Sunday, May 10, 2009

Moving Toward Patience, Simplicity, and Compassion...

“I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.

These three are your greatest treasures.

~ Lao Tzu ~

When I came upon this quote late last night I typed it in here, but was too tired to write this post. I found, what for me, seemed the perfect image -- a table, a chair, a bowl, a spoon. I long for that kind of simplicity in this small cottage impossibly filled to the hilt, and I have been too overwhelmed to get a handle on it.

I've been feeling overwhelmed lately anyway, as I have written about my mother's impending death, made harder by the fact that she is just dangling at the crossroads, and I can't stand to see her suffer. It is suffocating and paralyzing, but still, one must do the daily round of tasks and keep moving forward.

Then I found a free download designed by my magical friend, Leonie, "12 Key Zen Habits," inspired by the work of Leo Babuata and I heaved a sigh of relief... ahhh ... you mean it could be this simple? Leonie says that you can download it for your desktop (which I have done) and it is an inspiration, it gives one hope, and I am going to practice it every day. It breaks down tasks into tiny nuggets and Leonie's wildly colorful, whimsical art is worth having as a daily inspiration all by itself. You can click on her link above to go to her amazing website to download the poster, (You need to scroll down a bit.) and click on Babuata's link to go to his inspiring blog. Simplicity, patience, compassion, and I would like to add to that, synchronicity.

Lately I have been having the most amazing happening and connections, synchronicity abounds. I was so sad that my best friend Jeff was moving, it was the impetus for me to begin to make plans to move to Asheville, NC, a place I've wanted to move for some time. After long thought I realized that I could move, but not yet. Patience. And then hours later I heard from Jeff that he was not going to move now either for a number of reasons. We both still plan to move, in different directions, but the timing was not right for either of us. I was startled that evolution and dissolution of our plans happened just hours apart. That's one example, there are many more.

And unbeknownst to me, something unimaginable happened. The two large parrots I had been caring for, having rescued one over a year ago and keeping Jeff's for a couple of months while he sorted some things out, left within days of one another. Maya, the macaw, went home with Jeff, and Blossom, the beautiful Greated Sulfur Crested cockatoo went to a beautiful and perfect new owner who has already begun to give her an incredible life. And when those two gigantic cages moved out of the living room, and the quiet of the two birds now having moved on, I was almost startled by the silence I had not had in over a year.

The carpet has been cut out because it was so old and my elderly rescue pugs were having "accidents" and despite my best efforts to clean up after them it was, well, not pleasant in here and the carpet was easily twenty years old. The floor was cleaned and painted and walking on the smooth, cool concrete was a revelation. It is so simple, and now so spacious in here, finally I can no longer bare the clutter, and I have started to clear up little areas. I don't want to move and carry the clutter with me. My mother always said I kept everything but dirty kleenex. Sadly, I think she might be right.

Patience. I have a tendency to make up my mind and when I do I move quickly and get it done. This has not always served me well, in fact, it's created some pretty awful messes. The older I get the more I am slowing down, and the last few years I have created little signs all over the cottage with a snail and the little phrase, "How slow can you go?" This is especially important now, because I think I wanted to move to rush through and past the pain of my mother's death, but there's no way to do that. My mother will die, I will have to work through my grief and whatever comes thereafter, and to move in the middle of it all is most certainly not the way to go. Rushing through something is never the way to go, and at 55 there are many considerations to take into account. It will be a good move for me, but rushing won't make it any better. Being prepared will. Making a simpler life here will make for a simpler life there. Being patient now will teach me patience for the future.

Compassion. This is what I teach. This is what I live. But it is so much easier to give to another than to give to oneself. I took the name Maitri legally because I wanted a reminder, every day of my life, of the teaching. Loving kindness and compassion for others, but first... first, we must have compassion and kindness for ourselves. We cannot give from an empty well. I have been the empty well that tried to keep running and running and running until my motor burned out, and it's time to be quiet and let the table rise. This is the way to plan a move and it will be the first time in my life I have done so. Moving slowly, with patience, compassion and grace will make for a far better life ahead. To plan, to clean out this cottage so that the dross doesn't hang onto my coat tails along the way. And to take my time doing it. To revel in the cleaning out. To celebrate the making spare. To finally be free.

The last decade, during my separation and divorce, my life has become simpler and simpler out of necessity. Less money, less space, the life I had had no longer accessible to me in any sense of the word, and it was scary, and it was hard, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

We are used to cushioning ourselves against the pain of living in the world that all too often seems impossibly hard. We don't look at life as a series of chances to grow spiritually and become more, we feet lost, alone, even in a houseful of people that we love, we wonder where we went wrong when what we are doing is following our hearts for the very first time in our lives, to make the hard choice, and then we have to live with the consequences. That's what happened to me. And it's taken me a decade to really, truly understand who I am and what I want. And it's the deciding that matters. Knowing where I'm going, not how fast I get there.

And so I will simplify my life. I will be patient. I will not only have compassion for the world around me, but for myself. I will celebrate the decade of pain and sorrow, of almost drowning, of being so lost I didn't imagine I could ever have a life, and slowly, ever so slowly, I will climb the mountain toward my dream, and it will be all the sweeter for the waiting. Yes, I will move, I will find my little cabin in a pocket of a mountain with my animals and garden, writing and art, and I will re-enter the world, a world I thought I'd never be part of again, and even that will happen slowly.

One of the most important lessons I've learned in my life is rooted in that saying, "Wherever we go, there we are." We can't go some place else to get away from who we are and the life we have. We have to make the life we have, here and now, as beautiful, peaceful, serene, loving, and fruitful as we can. If we can attain that, we really will have something to carry with us, and the years ahead will be all the richer and more fulfilling because of it.

I am making many changes in my life right now and it feels good. Even making this page white instead of clouded with color gives a kind of clarity and brightness that lifts me up. It's the words that matter after all, and they seem to have more weight, more impact, on a white page with no distractions. That's what I want for my life. I am seeking it. I will find it.


Mike Golch said...

A great posting,I hope that you had a great weekend.

Mountain Woman said...

Yes, a beautiful post on very important topics. It is very difficult to be patient. Much easier to push ahead but sometimes we just have to be in the moment.
Thank you as always for sharing your beautiful thoughts and heart.

Victoria SkyDancer said...

Your words were exactly what I needed to hear/see today. Thank you.

Blessed Be,

CyberCelt said...

I am always thinning my possessions. As I got older, I started asking my relatives and friends, "What would you like to have?" I would rather give my things to them while I am on this Earth, but I do not want to weird them out.

God is teaching me patience right now. It is a hard one.

kasandria said...

Your a great writer. Enjoyed reading your blog. Keep up the good work! Clicked some ads for you.

czaroma said...

What a beautiful post! It kept me inspired all throughout... thank you for sharing your words and your thoughts. These are the excatly what I am after at - living life in patience, simplicity and compassion...

I'll follow your blog and keep on dropping by. Have a great day!

Mystery Ranch said...

Hi Maitri I've given you an award at Your posts are thoughtful and inspiring. Since I just broke my right ankle and can neither walk nor drive, I am 'practicing patience, simplicity and compassion' whether I like or not. LOL Actually,slowing down, being present, and not moving into fear and imagination makes it easier.

lilyruth said...

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sen and qi said...

I love the quote by Lao Zi. I find the Tao very easy to understand like I have an affinity with it and your post broguht me quite quickly to my 'home' or center. Lovely lovely blog. Thank you and God bless.

igoddess said...

Congratulations beautiful Maitri! I am awarding you the BOTIBOTO Award (Beautiful On the Inside, Beautiful On the Outside). To find out why I have awarded this to you, please visit .

I hope you will accept this Award and tell all your global sisters everywhere about it so they too can celebrate their own innate beauty from this day forward.

You can also share this award by picking five blogs that you consider deserve this award too. Simply go to for details, and to collect your Award.

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