The tricks our minds play

I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about a topic that tends to come and go in my life. It is one that always seems a bit hard to put into words. I can remember a time almost ten years ago when I was sitting on our bed in a loft we were living in. I had this surreal moment when I looked around and thought: all these things happening in my life are all a distraction to get me to not look at the painful stuff. A clearer thought was: working through the painful stuff is what moves you forward to that next level of understanding. It was not a fun time in my life. That day I was alone. Chris was traveling in China and life felt rough, bumpy, and not much fun.

The conversation from a few weeks ago circled back to that same feeling. Do we all have the craziest of lives because it keeps us distracted from the real and raw stuff we are supposed to be looking at the most? We do not want to so we stay hyper-focused on all that we have to do? We stay extremely busy, and then we never have to get really quiet and listen to that voice inside that tells us where we should really be looking? It has been true for me from time to time. I like to think that I am still listening even between all the many responsibilities and deadlines. Am I lying to myself though? Is it really possible? Or do you just need to walk away from it all, whether for a week, or month to really be able to see inside?

I just finished reading a book called “Dinner with Buddha” by Roland Merullo. At first it was a hard book to read. I could not get into it, and then as I found a few morsels of inspiration I was pulled into the quiet, thoughtful ideas inside. While it is a novel, it reads like a self-help book. There were quite a few ideas that come from the story and analogies the author shares. This idea in particular resonated as it made me think of that day ten years ago, and the conversation from a few weeks ago:

“Plugging along at monk-speed, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t all some kind of trick we were playing on ourselves. Maybe the more we crammed into a day the less we actually experienced. Maybe the addictive hurry was all a kind of racing away from our existential predicament, as if we could outrun old age and death, and as though, if we kept busy enough, kept moving, traveled farther, checked more items off the to-do list on any given day, then, like astronauts in orbit, we’d escape the bonds of ordinary time. Or escape, at least, the manic workings of our minds.” Page 118-119

Is that truly why we do so much? We are trying to get away from our minds and true thoughts? I sure hope not, but I can see it being true. I know it from the tricks my mind plays on me. Yet I want so badly to slow down, stop moving, get rid of the to-do list and live moment by moment into what my mind wants me to learn, however painful as it may be to look into all that is there for me to learn.

What do you think?

Ordinary Talismans

Common objects. Ordinary. Talismans.

I take two kinds of photos — people and odd objects. You know when you see that toothpick sticking out of the parking meter, or a bike is leaning oddly on its front tire and somehow holding up the weight of itself? Whatever the oddity, I find beauty in the common objects in life found in rare or strange places. At times, we find that a common object strikes a deep chord within us. It brings back memories that are strong and often vivid. Our own talisman of sorts.

Over the weekend we were at a local holiday artisan market that was nested within a new/used hardware store. I saw a few holiday trinkets that started a flowing thought process of the talismans in my life. I saw a bottle opener in the shape of pliers, vintage hammers, and a few construction-esque items that brought back memories of my dad’s plethora of tools meant to help him build, fix, and maintain the homes of many in my hometown. Beside the random fart greeting card, or joke about going bald, tools are often a talisman reminder of my dad. So are the moments when I wished I had watched him fix a pipe, build a deck, or the endless other projects I could have gained valuable and tangible knowledge to bring to my home today.

My other talismans? Pepsi and Daisies. Random, I know, but each remind me of my mom and grandma. My grandma’s daily drink was a Pepsi, and while I do not drink soda, from what I can remember my last 2-liter drinking of Pepsi was with her. It would probably taste nasty to me, like a syrup IV, but it will forever be my reminder of good ‘ole Granny Smith. I can also rarely pass by a daisy and not think of my mom. Sometimes to the point of having tears in my eyes. While I have not embraced, spoken to, or seen her for over twenty years, a daisy can bring back the strongest of memories. They are resilient, last forever, and are the simplest of flowers. While my mom did not last as long as she should have, she was one resilient and simple lady. Call my sappy, but the daisy is a quick reminder of her and her last words to me: “Be strong.”

What are the talismans of your day-to-day world?