Monthly Archives: July 2011

Equality in Cuteness

This perspective is difficult to admit, even to myself. But maybe I’m just getting old and that’s the way my point of view naturally shifts. Maybe I’ve studied and contemplated the Buddhist approach to reality long enough that my world view must inevitably shift to see things in a whole new light. Maybe my husband’s tendency toward the curmudgeonly has rubbed off.

The latest leap came yesterday as I was surfing blogs. I ran across page after page of mommies cooing about their kids in the sweetest way. These parents are so excited about their new little bundle and they want to chronicle every tiny moment, share every second with the entire world. Up until yesterday it warmed my heart to see other people appreciating the magic that is parenthood.

But yesterday, as I scrolled past the umpteenth photo of edible baby toes, the epiphany came: All Baby Toes Are Equally Cute.

This is an innocuous enough admission, until we begin to examine where this observation will lead: Your Child’s Adorable Toes are Not a New Revelation.

Can a person get bored with baby toes? Has my heart grizzled to the point where I am no longer wooed by such an amazing manifestation of life’s gloriousness?

I know that for the rest of my life, whenever baby toes are in my immediate vicinity, I will always take advantage of the opportunity to appreciate them, whether they are attached to my own child’s foot or the foot of a stranger’s baby.

But is this what I am wasting so much time in front of a monitor for, to witness the minutiae of another parent’s trip? Is this why we enter the online universe, to obsessively chronicle each step of the journey? Are we not trying to get to a different place, a “What Does It All Mean” Big Picture?

I know — harsh, dude. Not trying to be a buzz kill. Like I say, maybe it’s age. I remember wanting to freeze every second in an immortal record, to share the awe-inspiring experience of a new being. I remember being so deeply inside the connection with a newborn that the whole rest of the world became fuzzy and pointless.

And as a new parent, that’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.

But after having many, many of those experiences, and observing that others register a similar experience, I feel done with the newbie exclamations of intensely personal awestruck amazement.

Maybe I am just ready to take this fact of, yes, we as parents are incredibly lucky to be part of such a wonderful thing, and see what’s up around the bend. To witness the larger implications of the extreme adorableness of baby toes such as these:

I guess where I’m going with this new perspective is to remind these parents, enamored with the bits of flesh and bone that grip the plush carpet in their nice home (because aren’t most of us bloggers the privileged people who can afford to have a digital camera, computer, internet connection, and the time and energy to use them?) that they need to do more than swoon and take pictures.

When they encounter a rude teenage boy, they need to remember that his toes were once as cute as their own little tyke’s. When they are stuck in line with a cashier who is having such a hard day she can’t keep it together enough to be friendly or helpful, they must keep in mind that her child’s toes are just as edible as their own child’s. When they must deal with an old person driving too slowly down the road, they must appreciate that this person’s DNA is likely the blueprint for an entire clan’s worth of adorable digits.

Go beyond the rules, social guidelines, habitual rage and narrow perspective that we all get caught in and base your worldly participation in baby-toe-cuteness, because you as an aware parent know personally, on a visceral level, that it leads you to a new place beyond labels and the limiting pettiness of social conformity.

Take your awestruck gooeyness and make it count.

New Social Network or Another Noisy Pocket of Silence?

Google +. Are we excited yet? The only discussion I’ve heard so far is, will it kill Facebook and/or Twitter the way Facebook apparently killed Myspace? Having never used Twitter, I can’t speak to that issue. However, being a former Myspace user as well as a Facebooker for a few years now, I have a few opinions.

I think the common wisdom says that those of us on Facebook, and there are a crap-ton, will be loathe to move everything to a new place when Facebook seems to work fine. Myspace had gotten too cluttered and once a few people abandoned it, it seemed the exodus was unstoppable. I think we are too entrenched in Facebook to just walk away.

That being said, I think there are a couple of reasons that make a new network appealing. First is simply the chance to reinvent yourself. Precisely because I filled in all the blanks in my Facebook persona years ago, starting over on a fresh page, revealing updated information and current quirks, is fun and satisfying. I think this desire to uncover one’s present identity, after all the events and life experience lived since we appeared on Facebook for the first time, will inspire a great number of people to take the time to sign up on Google +.

And second, a new social network offers the allure of a happening place. It may just be me, but 9 times out of 10, when I sign into Facebook, I may find one good quote or link shared by a friend, or one compelling status update, but for the most part it’s people telling me from their cell phone that they’ve “checked into” Chili’s restaurant (thanks for rubbing that in my face) or that they’ve leveled up on the latest virtual attempt at having a life (time to hide yet ANOTHER game). I am almost always ashamed at how pathetic I’ve been to waste the time getting online and pretending that I’ll find some kind of meaningful connection.

Google + keeps the dream alive.

Do you have any thoughts, predictions or tips to share on the newest trend in social networking, or about our virtual lives in general?

Receive – Embrace – Transform

At times along the path of my spiritual study I come to a place where I feel like many of the truths I have encountered will coalesce into a gold nugget that I can carry around in my awareness.

The latest one: Receive (with aimlessness), Embrace (with emptiness), Transform (with signlessness).  I have to credit Thich Nhat Hanh with these terms, and most of the ideas as well.  I have read many of his books, and continue to reread The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching as an endless source of wisdom.

Based on my study of Taoism, I find that organizing things by 3’s helps me remember as well as process new information.  One might at times, for convenience sake, label these 3 categories as Body, Mind and Spirit.  Being connected, the categories are extremely fluid in my understanding, and I am constantly aware of the fact that I am trying to glue a nametag onto things that are beyond labels.  As always, I do not mean in any of my written meditations to pretend to have anything figured out.  I am simply swimming joyfully among the words as they harmonize.  I am always open to hearing someone else’s impressions of what I discuss.

To remain in mindfulness, as Hanh recommends, I am experimenting with a process triggered by reciting to myself the words receive – embrace – transform.

Receive begins with mind, to receive sensory perceptions, to be aware of thoughts, feelings, impressions.  Hanh adds “with aimlessness” because if we have a goal or objective in mind as we receive input from a variety of sources, then we will color this input and not see clearly.  We must be aimless in order to be open to seeing things as they truly are and not how we want/expect them to be.  Though the stimulus may originate in the body, heart or thoughts, I associate this step with mind because that seems to be the final processing area.

Embrace is the step of accepting what is.  This process happens in the spirit or heart, where we can become aware of the oneness that exists between our own self soul and whatever it is we have just received.  Even if it is something negative, to embrace does not help perpetuate, it simply acknowledges what is real, which is an essential step to move forward.  If you are being attacked by someone, it is not helpful to pretend it’s not happening.  To embrace what is in front of you simply means to acknowledge that it is there.  “With emptiness” gives room for reality to be as it is.  If I hold something by smashing it against the pavement, it will be contorted and I won’t get a good look at what it is.  I will be manipulating it and possibly causing conflict or suffering.  If I hold my hands in an empty cup, I can embrace without interfering too much with the form or movement of whatever I hold in my attention.

Transform is the step I associate with the body, although we can take the information of an input or the energy of a situation and simply perform a mental or emotional transformation.  However, the body, and by extension the earth and physical manifestations, seems to be the realm in which change is most easily observed, in which a metamorphosis stops being a fluid and ephemeral process and becomes a solid move forward in time.  Ideally we take this step with signlessness, in other words, without a preconceived notion of exactly what it’s going to look like, simply moving in the direction suggested by events, environment, further input, etc., because I believe an openness to possibilities leads to the best possible outcome.

So the idea is, if during the day I find myself scattered, lost and/or overwhelmed, reciting these three possibilities, to receive, embrace and transform, can pull me back to a place where I pay attention, I acknowledge what’s happening, and I participate in the wisest, most loving activity possible, given the circumstances.

That’s the plan, anyway!