5.09.2013

MOTHER'S DAY MUSINGS: ACTING WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF CIRCUMSTANCE


Often I will see something that strikes me, but I am in a hurry and rush past. Then I cannot stop thinking about what I have just seen, so I return. Even if I have only my cell phone, I snap some pictures, because I know that I am going to want to think about (and share) what's caught my attention. Walking under the scaffolding erected around a building this winter I noticed that some of the branches had been tucked underneath. I wondered how they would fare. And then I forgot about them. A week ago I happened to be on the same route. The trees, sturdy urban pears, as it happens, were resplendent, leafed out. But what was truly wonderful was that the branches trapped by the metal siding were equally boisterous. They were on their own time clock, a bit delayed in their development. But they were blooming.


At around the same time a friend sent me a lovely little book of days--meaning, a book that one is expected to read one page at a time, every day. I'm usually not good with such contours. I want to rush ahead through the month, look back to see what I missed over the year. But I decided to curb that enthusiastic impulse as best I could and instead focus on where I was (supposed to be.) I feel, at some intuitive level, that I'm in one of those life "wrinkles" (a karmic moment?) in which I am meant to be learning a very important lesson--but I'm not sure what it is. I'm really training myself to be open to leads--"what the universe hands you" as some put it.

The book is 365 Tao: Daily Meditations, by Deng Ming-Dao. Since college, I've been drawn to routing around in the literature and living of Tao, and as my younger son is studying the same, I'm humming alongside him. I try to keep open avenues of connection with family and with friends--those conversational highways often require maintenance, keeping up, finding on ramps, that sort of thing.

Theo, as a ten-year old, once complained about an adult he wasn't connecting with, and whom he felt didn't appreciate him: "We just don't have topic compatibility, Mom." I had never considered that concept but since then have found it enormously useful. Techies refer to "stickiness"-- or "connectivity". Velcro is a useful image, and so are burrs. (Can there be too much connection?) Some peoples' minds connect, affinities instantly spring up and there is no limit to talking, searching, examining, getting to know one another. With others, meh.


Anyway, a recent entry in 365 Tao is about "Acceptance", and in metaphorical spirit it seems to be about rain and drought. (Useful enough, that: the writer advises that we not plant a garden of water-demanding flowers during drought, as that is ignorant and egotistical.) But acceptance does not mean passivity or stagnation.  "Those who follow Tao do not believe in being helpless," he writes. "They believe in acting within the framework of circumstance."


And perhaps that's why those flowering branches stopped me in my tracks. "I am Tao," they seem to say. "I am trapped under scaffolding, out of the light, away from rinsing showers. The wind cannot even shake my flowers loose. But what do I do? I bloom, anyway! The scaffolding is actually a marvelously-textured backdrop for my extravagant beauty--like the meticulously-raked grooves of sand in a Zen garden, against which prickly pine needles will look soft and feathery. My blossoms have nothing to do with my circumstances. They have to do with who I am. My beauty comes from deep within, from the essential core of my being, from my rootedness. I will make the most of this unfortunate circumstance. Because I cannot help myself. I must bloom." 

Lately I seem to be hearing so many stories of people feeling trapped, stuck, unhappy in their lives, unable to take root. Does acceptance help? Does seeing how you are, in adversity, help you see who you are? So: Whether or not you have topic compatibility with someone you love: Bloom. Whether or not you feel noticed, attended to, in the sunshine of someone's attention: Bloom. Whether or not you asked to be pinned up against life's scaffolding: Bloom. Unfold in your own time, but bloom, because that is who you are, no matter what the circumstance. 

28 comments:

Ellen Reed said...

"They believe in acting within the framework of circumstance.".....I do love that.....smiles

Brenda@Cozy Little House said...

Such a profound post! I haven't been around in awhile. And I'm afraid I probably missed a lot. Your words are nuggets of gold, scattered among the grass so the sun finds them and makes them sparkle.
Brenda

Sound Beacher said...

http://omnomct.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/to-do-ct-vineyard-and-brewery-bus-tour-with-tastings-from-slow-food-shoreline/
There is a slow food group in CT. Seems compatible with your Slow Love Life, no?

Cristina said...

your last paragraph moved me to goose-flesh. thanks for the inspiration!

slowlovelife said...

Definitely. I am in the Slow To Come To Cooking School, but enjoying it more and more when I do tackle it. Luckily, I can be a member of the Raw Food School, as I eat ingredients before they get to the pot. Kidding aside, the slow food movement is absolutely marvelous. We ought to be appreciating and savoring every bite, slowly. But I know that most of us can't live daily that way; even 30 minutes to cook lunch is too long when you have a job, kids to tend to, all of it. So, as with so much, balance.

karensandburg said...

no topic compatibility - what a great concept, especially so because it doesn't judge either party, just explains a total lack of connection.

that bit about a life 'wrinkle' struck a cord. when i'm stuck, i know there is a lesson there. what is it, where is it, how will it reveal itself to me and sometimes it's as mundane an experience as walking by scaffolding and noticing that against all odds, something is flourishing. noticing it sets you on a course and then another and i'm glad you're here to describe these magnificent meanderings and the confluence of seemingly unrelated events that ignite to enlighten us... Maybe we need these wrinkles to nudge us deeper, to force bloom us out of adversity.

C. Carter said...

Dominique, I am so touched and moved by this powerful and poignant post. I want more people to see this! May I have permission to cross-post about this on my blog? I would like to borrow the bottom photo (with full credit, of course) and then give people the link so that they can come over to read this ... would that be ok?


And beyond all that, may I extend a very heartfelt, "Thank You."

mary said...

Hi Dominique, This post is close to my heart. I have been reading The Tao for about 7 years....I have grown and am blooming despite circumstances--yes, just a bit latter, but still blooming. I think that it is quality of resilience that The Tao speaks to; accepting the circumstances knowing that everything changes except our nature of connectedness to The Tao. Have a wonderful Mother's Day.

Melissa said...

What a beautiful post...

Arlene said...

What can I say? Thank you, You have made my day! Have a wonderful mother's day, Dominique!

Sheila said...

Flowers always help me. Lovely piece.

Lyn Hicks said...

Indeed the feminine way is to move slower, observing, graceful and perceptive! Our intuitive gifts awaken when we are at this more rhythmic pace, the more subtle messages and beauty can only be observed when we move this way. Acceptance is part of this way, seeing what is there, being open, allowing that moment to wash over us and all that means. In clarity, in the stopping we then can rightly, clearly, slowly. noticing the goodness that is there awaiting our notice. Lovely post!

Karen Rand Anderson said...

"My blossoms have nothing to do with my circumstances. They have to do with who I am. My beauty comes from deep within, from the essential core of my being, from my rootedness. I will make the most of this unfortunate circumstance. Because I cannot help myself. I must bloom." Wisdom and love!! Thank you, Dominique. Such a wonderful post.

William said...

Very nice post Dominique, in a touchy-feely girly kind of way, but very nice nonetheless.


Although, I do believe sometimes personal 'blooming' doesn't always 'just happen' organically and may be require the occasional dose of something equivalent to a Miracle-Gro.


I recommend a Taylor Fladgate Tawny 40 Year Old Special Reserve Port combined with Shirley Horn's 'Here's to Life' on the stereo for best results.

Meghan Davidson said...

Love this sentiment. Bloom where you are. Be you. That is what we're here for.

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Jessie said...

I like this concept of the framework of circumstance and it has been rumbling around in my head since you posted it. It is easy to get distracted by and comfortable with a framework that has the usual supports -- family, friends, work, things -- and to let the status quo carry you. In those times when the things are most dire -- when the usual supports and comforts are stripped away, you have a clear choice -- to wither or to flower. It seems to me that it is in those moments when you see yourself and your life your choices most clearly. The trick is to make conscious choices when life is humming along reasonably well.

Amy Clark said...

A delayed response but the subject of Acceptance is present in my mind. In a yoga class yesterday I dedicated the intentions to Acceptance and have been thinking/struggling with the concept.
I finally Accepted that my husband left me and his family. Accepted his new relationship. Accepted the new territory of my life. For that phase I became released and able to explore this new territory with my motto of "faith not fear" that it would all work out.
I have a new life. It's all about service by creating. I developed a program called CREATING FOR A CAUSE. It Never would have happened if he hadn't left. I'm grateful.
But as the final hours wane on the tail end of a very long life together and I look out on the apple trees, play house, studio and neighbors--I fear it will all be scrapped for me. Starting over. Back to an apartment? My possessions mean so little now. It's really the moments and the people I love.

My struggle is standing Strong and not feeling Helpless. But feeling empowered to Accept this new life of creating, a new relationship and precious time with my children. The struggle to accept and acknowledge the ending of one life not knowing what the plan is for this new one.

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JewelD said...

Oh my god - the images of the blossoming pear branches against the corrugated metal - I could smell the flowers! And that moment of going back to see something again that you just passed - I know it well...