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Happiness

Happiness
Is here and now
I have dropped my worries 
Nowhere to go, nothing to do 
I don’t need to hurry

Happiness 
Is here and now
I have dropped my worries
Somewhere to go, something to do
No longer in a hurry

How wonderful! That by the time we come to the end of the second verse in this simple song, it is such a real possibility!

We live in a time in the world where the footprints of hurry are causing pain to the earth, and to our collective consciousness. Hurry is such a contagious energy; and whilst there is a gentle movement growing to decline the invitation to be ever busy and in a hurry, it can still feel like it takes more discipline to do less than to say yes to all the opportunities that come to us.

When this song was new to me, I distinctly recall thinking “nowhere to go, nothing to do!!?! – what an absurd luxury!”. But really, what is absurd is that such a concept should seem like a luxury, not to mention an absurd one!

I love the Plum Village practice of having a “lazy day” each week; a day where we have a chance to catch up with ourselves in our bodies. At first unspiralling from the habit of having a very full diary was difficult, even uncomfortable for me. Life is so full of so many exciting opportunities to do, learn, see, talk, listen, meet, play… so many verbs, such limited time! 

But what is the quality of our experience when we are so preoccupied with cleverly slotting it all into the schedule, planning our route to the next thing whilst we are at the current thing? How available are we for the people we are with, for ourselves, when we are busily trying to manipulate time? Are we fully present at our appointment with life? Are we able to see that here, now, in the present moment, is the very pureland we are conditioned to be chasing?

I am really seeing a difference, thanks to this song, and the permission I needed to consider a lazy day as a valid thing to schedule; in how I parent a toddler with my youngest child now, compared to her older sister, 13 years ago. What a radical thing, to allow enough space in our day, that we can walk a block at toddler pace, enjoying instead of feeling frustrated and anxious about looking at tiny leaves, patterns in the pavement, shapes in the clouds. There is even enough time to be aware that my tea is there! 

How long does it take a toddler to walk a block? As long as possible!

Right now, my parenting is my teacher, my toddler is my bell of mindfulness. And I feel so grateful that her natural way of doing life waters the seeds of mindfulness that are planted in me from times when I could study the dharma more fully.

I remember standing in a very long queue in a busy Paris train station the day after a delicious week in Plum Village, and humming this song to myself as the queue slowly moved. For me, the songs of practice can act as short cuts to some of the essence of the teachings, and I really appreciate this!

I wonder how it is for you?

Featured

Breathing In

Breathing in
I go back to the island within my heart
There are beautiful trees
Upon the island
There are clear streams of water
There are birds, sunshine, and fresh air
Breathing out I feel safe
I enjoy going back to my island.

This beautiful song is one of my favourites from Plum Village. 

I sing it, and other songs of practice, to my toddler each night at bedtime. Some days, this is the extent of my “formal dharma practice”!

A lecture I heard around the idea of our island, talked about the need to nourish and maintain our island, so that when we really need it, it is a beautiful sanctuary for us.

That we can choose what trees to plant and nourish there. We wouldn’t expect a mango tree to grow from the seed of a lemon, and similarly, if we want our island to be calm, we can mindfully practise feeling calm; so that if there is a tempest in our external world, those trees we have planted on our island are there to shelter us.

In my own life, I really notice the difference between the times that I look after my island, and when I let it slide, and weeds of fear, and anger spring up there. Then, if I am shaken by circumstances, it is harder to find the peace I need within me when I haven’t been looking after my island.

In the same way that we can’t wait til we need our car to learn how to drive it, we cannot expect our island to feel like a safe place without our careful maintenance.

Last night as I sang this song to my 19 month old daughter, she cuddled me and said “Mummy I like this song”. And it was a wonderful motivation for me to do what I can to nurture my island within.

I hope you can find time to plant some lovely trees on your island this week.

Summer Hoodie

My daughter runs to me when I pick her up from preschool 
35 degrees Celsius, a stinker of a day
And she is in a hoodie
They have stayed inside all day with the aircon blasting

All those cloth nappies as a solo parent
Two years worth
To save her planet

But now I buy her single wrapped plastic cheese for the convenience

The summer hoodie is my doing too

And so

Late stage capitalism closes in
Sputter stumble grip squeeze…
We heave and try
We trudge and sigh
Bound, and on our knees

Conditioned slaves to a broken system
Acutely self-aware
Of our own pathos
as we participate in the continuation
of our own oppression

How could we make a poem with rhythm
When jolting discomfort is what is now so deeply familiar?
When removal from so much of what is natural and beautiful about the human experience has become our accepted reality…

How has it come to this though?
Our ancestors would not have wished it for us.
The legacy we stand to leave does not look great.
And yet, here we are, rubbing our noses in sea-trash-to-be, as fossil fuels burn on.

Eat shit and die. Could we at least soften it with a comma, or even two, for Oxford?

We fell

The states were closed to one another
As our hearts lit up

A tiny window opened for us
To sip from true love’s cup

We yearn and strive to feel close
With new laws holding us apart

We both stay home so far away
When home is in each other’s heart

I long for you my darling one,
To feel your arms around me

To hear you whisper to my hair
Of all the things that should be

Hold on my love, and I will too
To the truth of our sweet story

This pain we know is compost
For a garden full of glory

(C) Zoë Xanadu 2021

Delivery

Hanging preschooler sized pants on the line
On a sunshiney lockdown day

Brrrrmmmmm
The postie bike stops at my gate

Through he comes with two big packages
“I’ll just put these here”

They sit by the door
As I continue my dance with the endless laundry cycle

I pick them up on my way inside
One, a bundle of online fast fashion for the teen

The other addressed to me
Flat, registered, with stiff cardboard inside

My graduation certificate and testamur
Just like that

Ten years of isolated online toil
Solo parenting, working so many jobs

My Masters degree has been conferred in hi-vis
From the other side of the laundry basket

Not a mortarboard in sight
But what beautiful weather for Graduation Day!