Friday, September 4, 2009

The Ego As Swiss Cheese, Full of holes and a bit stinky

It seems life is so full and busy right now that all I have time for is "to do what needs to be done", if that makes any sense. It seems akin to the experience Zen masters confer upon us when they have us sit a retreat with such intense schedule that somehow the ego doesn't have time for it's usual tricks. At some point in the process the ego begins to look like a bit of swiss cheese, full of holes and a bit stinky. Gruyere ego, that's what I am dining on these days.

It is all good, an opportunity for transformation. For the most part the experience of my mother's death has been a good one, one of deep peace and gratitude. Gratitude for her presence in my life, for all I have learned from her and with her and for her peaceful passing. I have encountered such loving and kind and comforting souls along these final steps of her journey, including the delightful, young funeral director who seemed to have such a direct understanding of the simple nature of our needs and dignified caring presence, a true kindred spirit. Of course there is sadness and a sense of an empty spot at moments when I might have called my mother or as I start on the project of cleaning out her apartment.

Thrown in with all this our house goes on the market this week so there is the busyness of last minute painting and prep which seems endless at this point. Throw in some phone calls and emails re: my mother and a little of this and that and all you can do really is attend to the details which is really what the Buddha suggested we do. Rumination and worry and anger are so clearly too much of energy suckers at this point. It seems so obvious from where I stand. And yet I got to look at what I habitually do and have a bit of a power struggle with the swiss cheese part of myself.

As we prepare we look at the house next door which has exploded into a rental property of vast busyness, 8 cars or more. I can no longer keep track of the number of people who actually live there. I had to spend a little grumble time to see the futility of my anger over this. I got to see the feature movie on clinging and fear as I worry over the impact of the this house on our property. And then I looked at my mother's death and how it had been so peaceful, why would I want to get all stirred up over the house next door? In the grand scheme of things how did this make any sense? Mother's death fine, house next door makes me crazy? I ask myself what's this all about. Why has it come to me? And the answer that seems most apparent is that there will always be people around us doing things that we (our little selves) don't like. At some point we need to make peace with that, find a way to hold it, that doesn't generate anger and torment for us. If I don't do it now, when will I do it, I ask myself? And so I work at being less egocentric. I work at letting go. It doesn't mean some appropriate action isn't taken. Maybe I will ask the woman upstairs if I can help her put some of her things in the storage room so the yard doesn't look so full of stuff. Or maybe I won't. I will wait and see what seems appropriate. And I feel thankful that my mother has provided me with this lovely parting gift of peace.

We attended my mother's cremation on Wednesday. It's not that usual for families to do but something in me wanted to do it. We helped the body in and started the cremation process, said a few prayers and a final good-bye. It seemed good to do, an act of respect and completion, a final act of keeping her company through the difficult. I have been saying a prayer for her each night before I fall into my work induced sleep.

And as always there is much to learn. It seems these days life is bringing me the simple reminder to do what needs to be done and let the rest go. To do my part, that's all I am asked really, and the universe handles the rest. No energy to waste on the fruitless trappings of worry and anger and speculation. No time for art, little time for blogging. But that is life right now, why argue with it? So I need to hurry off to buy more paint, paint the living room. I am truly thankful for all of this and the lovely souls I meet along the way each day. May your day bring you what you need.


  1. Hi Carole!

    Just wanted to leave a note to say I am thinking of you, and to take good care of yourself during this busy time! Heart Hugs - Christine

  2. Thanks for the visit and the hug! I needed that. Yesterday was rainy and I worked all day in the kitchen in a somber kind of mood. Usually I love cleaning and decluttering but it felt like things were catching up with me. I was looking for cookies and comfort! Ah just to be able to go with the flow!

  3. It's me again :) I just wanted to offer this...

    You *are* in the flow... Whatever life is presenting you in the moment *is* the flow. The flow is inclusive of everything you experience - including the somber days, and the need for comfort food. It all just flows the way it flows. I know you know this :) From where I stand you are flowing beautifully - with awareness/mindfulness - with Heart. C

  4. thanks for that. it's easy to get tangled up in our ideas of "what flow is" and other such thoughts!