Ok, so I've never been able to stand those insipid cheesy-ass Reader's Digest-style columns about the wisdom of children and how much we can learn from toddlers and all that shit. Trite cliched crap. I don't wanna hear it. Makes me want to chain-smoke and drink a bottle of Scotch.
That said, um...meet Lulu.
She's my girl. Her mother and I, both Nebraska girls from back in the day, inadvertently discovered each other here in San Francisco out of the blue a few years ago. She and her husband live not far from me over in Cow Hollow. Lulu was born in February, making her an ancient almost-5-months now. She and I hang out afternoons now and then so that her mama can get out and about, go for a run here and there, you know, when dad's out of town for work.
So here's the part where I eat crow. In spite of all that about Scotch and cigarettes -- I'm crazy about this little heartbeat beating next to mine.* She's soft and tender and trusting and fearless; she tucks her head into this strange lady's chest and burrows in. (I think it's just the boobs, but oh well. I'll take what I can get.)
Being with Lulu is like some crash course in Buddhist meditation. She brings all these transcendental ideas that I read about in theory - the learning to sit still, being present in the moment, slowing the mind, calming the breath - into materiality. Everything suddenly becomes very simple: no more lists, no more rushing here and there, no more trying to kill six birds with one stone in one afternoon. The perpetual multi-tasking goes out the window. You breathe, and eat, and sleep, and move slowly and deliberately so as not to tweak the squeaky floorboard that leads into her nursery. You turn your phone to silent mode and sit with her sighing on your shoulder and she sleeps and the sunlight moves across the room and the air gets slow and heavy and the clock ticks and she breathes and you breathe and the hours pass and that, my friends, is meditation.
Zen teacher Norman Fischer has a killer excerpt in the Shambhala Sun I mentioned the other day. When I read his article this afternoon while Lulu slept, I thought of her immediately:
Zen meditation is just this simple, childish practice. Just sitting, just breathing, being with whatever arises, but then letting go and coming back to just sitting and breathing, trusting that being alive in the body, the breath, the mind, and the heart is enough. Being content not to know, but simply to be present with life as it appears.Yes.
* Um, also, I'm getting really strong arms from hefting around a little 18-pound tank.