Don’t get me wrong; I like Zen people. I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I was twelve. But sometimes I want to very diplomatically screech at the top of my lungs to certain Zennies, “Exactly what planet (or what drug) are you on?”
Here’s an example. I read an article recently: “How To Live A Life of Contentment,” written by what I must assume is a single, male, non-parent, Zennie. (See http://zenhabits.net/peaceful-simplicity-how-to-live-a-life-of-contentment/
Of the 17 things this Zen author listed, I squirmed the most at:
1. Eliminate some commitments. (He writes)
Oh, my dear Zen Guru. Which commitments will I eliminate? Feeding the baby breakfast? Changing his poopy diaper? Buying groceries? Shoveling the snow so I can drive to get the groceries? Helping the kids find their snowboots? Cooking dinner? Doing the laundry? Picking up the zillion baby toys, pots, pans, and shoes that are all over the floor so that we can get to the dinner table? Bathing the baby? Sweeping under his highchair? Taking showers and brushing my own teeth? Picking up the kids from their schools? Washing dishes? Supervising homework? Fishing the baby out, when he’s elbow-deep in playing in the toilet?
This will be a tough decision. I really think it’s going to have to be brushing my teeth that gets eliminated today.
2. Do less each day. (He writes.)
3. Leave space between tasks or appointments. (He writes.)
Great idea; I’ll take a half hour to myself, to relish my favorite book of poetry in between bathing the baby and getting a new diaper on his bum. He’ll be fine and so will the carpet. Then I’ll take another ten minutes to meditate in between cooking the dinner and serving it. I’m sure no one will mind. Lastly, I’ll take a breather in between doing the dishes and the kitchen floor, and getting my kids to bed. A midnight bedtime story won’t affect them tomorrow when the alarm goes off, not at all.
4. Eliminate as much as possible from your to-do list.
(Did we perhaps already cover this?)
5. Slow down and enjoy every task.
This is my favorite. The author suggests that: “Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s a work task or taking a shower or brushing your teeth or cooking dinner or driving to work, slow down. Try to enjoy whatever you’re doing. Be in the moment.”
Fantastic! Easy. (I’ll tell this to my screaming baby while I’m holding him down for a diaper change: “Sweetie pie, let’s just slow down and be in this moment, while we let the poop fly where it will”)
6. Single-task. Do not multitask.
I knew this was written by a single man without kids!
7. Eat more slowly.
8. Drive more slowly.
9. Eliminate stress.
10. Create time for solitude.
11. Do nothing.
“Sometimes, it’s good to forget about doing things, and do nothing,” he writes. Yeah! I’ll just not turn off the oven while the pie is in there. I’ll just not take out the trash because it feels so good to do yoga within nose-shot (is noseshot a word?) of a smelly trash can. I’ll just not sleep, because sleeping is for sissies and people who don’t know how to eliminate chores and commitments.
Now it’s my turn. Wanna hear my version of How To Live A Life of Contentment? See the article – part II at http://www.term.org/1796/oh-zen-how-to-live-a-life-of-contentment-part-ii/