Saturday, April 26, 2008

Take Five

My mother was a classical pianist who escaped into the piano whenever life became stressful -- I particularly remember her pounding away at Rachmaninoff and Beethoven's moonlight sonata during my teen years.

And though her own training was classical, she loved jazz and ADORED Dave Brubeck's classic, Take Five. She was, however, constitutionally incapable of either playing it herself -- the 5/4 rhythms, while she loved them, she found impossible to execute -- or of actually "taking five." She was a very impatient woman, always revved up, always doing something or going somewhere, churning to-do lists over and over in her head. Playing piano was the closest thing to downtime she ever took.

My father, on the other hand, had club feet and an enormous capacity for "just sitting." Now granted, he worked long days and long weeks and traveled a lot, but my memories of him at home mostly consist of him kneeling on the floor steaming the backs off of his beloved stamps or sitting on the couch watching baseball and calling for mom to bring him his beer and potato chips.

I grew up assuming I was more like my dad -- my mom often called me lazy -- and I remember thinking in a rather superior fashion, once I had a home of my own, that if my mother had figured out, like me, how to put her to-do lists on paper she could have saved herself a lot of churning.

If you read this blog regularly, you may have noticed that in a couple of posts earlier this month -- A Time for Silence and Spring Giddiness -- I was struggling a bit with my apparent need to verbalize everything, getting messages to "Stop the words now." I was panicking a bit at the time, for fear I would have to stop blogging altogether.

But as I sat in meditation this morning, exhausted after having spent all day yesterday moving into my new office, I was actually still enough to separate from all the whirling and planning that usually goes on in my head when I take time to sit down. And in that stillness I realized that the gentle prodding to stop the words wasn't about blogging or not blogging. It was about not wasting precious meditation time on the blog.

However like my father I might be in other ways, the energy and impatience that consumed my mother has also been consuming me. Whether or not I have learned to make lists, the fact is that something in me is always pushing forward and planning or moving ahead. And, more serious, something in me, despite all my training, tells me that I have no worth unless I am DO-ing. Hmm -- an old adage comes to mind: those who can, DO; those who can't, TEACH. If I were truly capable of just BE-ing, I would probably just BE. Instead I talk about the importance of BE-ing and don't hear my own messages.

So I'm grateful I was tired enough to let go of all those thoughts and plans this morning, because the actual rest I got in today's meditation fed and restored me. And the message to shut up isn't about my not DO-ing something right. It's a loving divine presence reminding me to be patient, to sit, to restore myself, to take time to rest and heal. Listen to your own message, it says: you can't pour out of an empty cup.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good for you for hearing yourself, hearing God, and listening. Or, as the title of Lily's radio talk-show says it (in The Princess Diaries): "Shut Up and Listen." I have always loved that title. It's such a nice thing when we are able to do it, but is it ever hard to do!