Tag Archives: zen

Monkey Business

Summer is truly over.

The sun has scampered away. The little dears are off to school. And all that remains is me and silence and my computer.

Because it’s just down to that, isn’t it?

This humming blank screen and my thoughts.

And if my thoughts were all about my book, well, it would be a match made in heaven. But unfortunately, my thoughts are flying all over the place and rarely have anything to do with my book.

Financial worries, chocolate urges, children’s schedules, school trips, gray hairs appearing, wrinkles deepening, yes.

But novel? No.

I’ve been reading about Chinese sayings for this novel set in Singapore that I’m working on and I read a doozy yesterday:

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders. Lao Tzu

And I realized that I have absolutely no control over my thoughts. They swing like a bunch of monkeys through my brain, breaking all the dishes, eating all the chocolate and making one hell of a mess.

So I’m trying really hard to learn to control them.

I’ve learned an approach that is working for me. And I thought I’d share it.

In my mind’s eye I lure the grinning, arm-pit-scratching beasts with bars of chocolate. (Lindt’s milk chocolate with hazelnut, if you care to know–and those, I admit, are not in my mind’s eye, they’re in my stomach). Then I grab the monkeys by the neck, open wide each one’s jabbering mouth and place a sock in it.

It’s a zen-like ritual: Open mouth. Insert sock. Open mouth. Insert sock.

And you should see the looks on their little hairy faces.

Of course, there is a lot of mumbling and thumping going on but I’m usually able to ignore that and finally get some actually writing done.

So tell me, how do you deal with your jabbering monkeys?

photo by  棟樑‧Harry‧黃基峰‧Taiwan (flickr)

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Zen and the Art of Doing Handstands in the Pool

I took my son to his swimming lesson today and afterwards, instead of rushing away to complete a long list of errands, I let him play in the pool.

For the next half hour I watched him splash and make shapes in the water. He made circles and question marks, even triangles with his sleek body. He swam and dove and thought of nothing but the wet water and its silky feel against his skin.

I watched him in his funny little swim cap and his blue goggles which gave him the air of an elfin super hero. His smooth body encased in regulation blue swim trunks. His little pink toes sticking out every which way as he yet again flicked his body over and dove for the bottom. Where, as anyone knows, lies the power and silence of an aqua universe.

Around him swam an assortment of people, executing frog kicks and breast strokes–even a half decent free style. The winter light outside darkened and the huge window on the side of the building became a mirror, doubling my moment of zen. I listened to the whaa whaa of the pool acoustics. And watched the worms of white light wiggling on the sparking blue water.

My wristwatch ticked at me impatiently but I decided to do nothing but look and listen and be in the moment.  I remembered my son as a baby and pictured him as the young man he so soon will be. And I thought how much I wish upon him a life time of these moments when nothing is accomplished except for bliss.

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