I’m rather fond of Buddhist philosophy. I’ve gone through various Buddhist phases over the past twenty years, studying with Tibetan Masters of the Universe and traveling to Buddhist hot spots like Nepal and Tibet.
I’ve loved the books I’ve read – anything penned by The Dalai Lama and Pema Chodron, for instance. Though I never had the patience for to meditate in a sustained way, I’d like to try again.
Thich Nhat Hanh is one of my favorites. He’s a wise old bird whom I’ve seen speak a couple of times. His view of life is so simple. Communicate with kindness and love. Live in the present moment. Eradicate desire. Embody the deep knowledge that as human beings, we are all interconnected. It sounds so easy, right? If I could live life the way he does, maybe I’d be calmer and less neurotic and try to control things less.
But if I really committed to the path of enlightenment, I’d also have to shave my head. Which actually might be a good thing, considering the fact that I haven’t had a hair cut in six months and as a result, look like Weird Al Yankovic:
Anyway, in one of his books, I think it’s “Peace is Every Step,” he talks about appreciating each day for the ills that have not befallen you. So rather than waking up grumbling about how hard it is to find stellar public schools in Brooklyn or the fact that you have a bunion – a bunion!! – on your right toe, you wake up grateful for the fact that you are healthy and do not have some kind of minor health complaint like a toothache, that could pretty much ruin your day.
It’s the Buddhist way of saying “Life could be worse.”
Yesterday was a giant reminder of this salient point.
The day started off with immense promise. I took B to her first Music Together class. At first, I could tell she was thinking, “Why the hell am I out with a whole bunch of people I don’t know, mama? Usually, we’re at home alone together, and you’re doing weird things like jumping up and down from behind the kitchen island and pulling funny faces, or talking to me in a really dumb voice and then talking to yourself. Don’t think I don’t see you, mama.”
But then she got really into it. Sat right in the middle of the circle. Even flashed her pearly whites (all 6 of them) and started making friends.
But after class and lunch, at about 1.30 pm, the day went south. En route to a long overdue visit to my doctor.
You see, I’ve been sick since last Friday, when I woke up with my throat on fire and barely able to swallow. Now, whatever form of the plague I have has morphed into a head cold with swollen glands.
Woe is me! Deliveries of chicken soup welcome!
The good part is that hubby cut me some slack this week, and because I was growling around the apartment like a slothful old lady with Tourettes, he woke up with B several mornings in a row (we usually take turns.) For this, I’ve been most grateful because I’ve never been a morning person anyway and I think roosters ought to be shot. Just kidding (sort of) animal lovers and PETA members!
The bad part is that every single night, my throat has become so dry and crackly that sleep has become a Macbethian torment. I’ve been in a continual seesaw between A. trying to muffle my cough (so as not to wake slumbering hubby and kids) and B. continuously shoving Cherry Halls Mentholyptus cough drops into my mouth, sucking slowly, awake and paranoid that I’ll fall asleep and choke on a cough drop in my sleep.
So while I prefer to avoid seeing doctors as much as possible, I finally made an appointment to see mine. He’s Italian American. Gruff. Charming. Thorough. I actually enjoy our visits, purely because he’s such a character. And a caring doctor. Of the old school variety.
But back to the story. I know this post is a bit meandering. Thank you for sticking around! At around 1.30pm, I was looking for parking near my doctor’s office when I got a call from hubby, who was with our very socially awkward and slightly depressing accountant doing our taxes. Does anyone have an attractive, charming accountant by the way? If so, I’d like their info.
Hubby was calling to ask me for B’s social security number. She earned us a lovely tax credit. Yay, B! We love you even more! Not that we could ever put a price on your beautiful being!
But then hubby broke the news. He said it didn’t look good. Our accountant had warned him were were going to owe a lot of money this year. I’m not going to name numbers, but the figure he quoted would be enough to roughly pay for:
A. Five really amazing holidays,
B. A new car or
C. A lifetime’s supply of Ritter Sports bars.
I love you, Ritter
I freaked out. Quietly. We said we’d speak later, and I rushed over to the doctor’s office. Whereupon I was told that they were backed up and there was no WAY I in hell I could be seen by 2.30pm, which is when I absolutely had to leave to pick up the boychild from school.
At which point I freaked out again. Loudly, sputtering “But this is ridiculous. How can you tell someone to come at one time and then not be seen for another hour?” and then instantly felt remorseful and like I should go to Confession, even though I’m not a Catholic, because the receptionist/appointment maker is my doctor’s wife, and a very sweet Italian woman who I’m sure makes whizzbang cannolis, and now I’ll never be able to worm my way into her good graces and benefit from her Italian home cooking.
I walked back to the car, tears streaming down my face, feeling immensely sorry for myself. “Right,” I thought, “We’ll just spend the rest of our lives paying back the IRS – where do our bloody taxes go, anyway??? – and then we’ll just go live in India where we can live on just $3 a day but then we’ll all get sick and die from dysentery and then the IRS will be really sorry, but it will be too late then, won’t it?”
And then hubby called again.
“I’m so sorry, sweetie,” he said. “The accountant made a mistake. We don’t owe anything.”
“We don’t?” I replied, in disbelief. (Inner monologue: Hip tip hooray! I’m going to maim our accountant! And now I’m going to really let loose and weep, big fat crazy tears of relief.) Which I did. Cry, that is. With such Oscar-winning prowess that B started to cry too, which made me feel a million times worse and so I stopped.
So life was essentially exactly the same as it had been 10 minutes earlier. But sooooo very different.
No horrendous debt to the IRS. No metaphorical toothache.
I should have felt great, right? I certainly felt relieved. But I was too bloody tired to jump up and down. Especially because after picking up the boychild, we turned right around and went back to the doctor. Who finally examined me. And informed me that I don’t have the plague. He doesn’t know what it is, but I don’t need antibiotics.
Ohm, Ohm, Ohm…In the spirit of Thich Naht Hanh, I am eternally grateful I am not living in 17th Century Europe and fighting Bubonic Plague (even though my throat still hurts.) And ohm, ohm, ohm…I am grateful I don’t really look like Wierd Al Yankovic (even though my hair is crazy curly right now.)
Here is B, eating her first lollipop at the doctor’s office. I am not including a photo of the boychild sucking on his lollipop, because he looks crazed in all of them, and I want to be sensitive to the fact that he will be a teenager one day and will hate the fact that I published a photo of him looking insane.
Mama, you crazy.
I know this was long! Thanks for reading!!!