Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What Fills the Emptiness?

I had a great talk with a friend at soccer a few weeks ago:  we were discussing the mania of afterschool activities and how difficult it is to slow down and just start appreciating being with family without the constraints of practice here and a game there and a race to run on Sunday and two birthday parties and a large homework assignment to get done, swim classes starting up and do we or don't we join Little Athletics because that means Friday nights out and Sunday AM runs are great but that means Sundays out and if we do baseball that's all day Saturday shot again and....

What would happen if we didn't sign up for activities this term?  What would happen if the boys didn't learn to shot put and high jump and they didn't train for long distance?  How terrible would their lives be without baseball for a season?
What would fill the emptiness?

I'm only beginning to discover what fills the emptiness, but it's great already.  What fills the emptiness is building forts out of bed linens and building cities out of Legos.  What fills the emptiness is starting up a band (with Matthew on piano, Aidan on recorder, Andrew on drums and one of the many girls they are auditioning at recess at school as lead singer!).  What fills up the emptiness is tying up a string in the backyard to make our own badminton court.  What fills up the emptiness is meeting friends - cousins really, right Bobbi! - for a 2 km fun run as a family and watching the seven years olds, the same seven years olds that whinged the entire time last year - break out of the pack and leave their parents in the dust.

What fills the emptiness is the beginning of spring, the smell of sunscreen and mozzie spray, towels and togs on the clothes line, trips to the beach, surfing in the waves.

What fills the emptiness is bike rides and weeding the garden, home-made pizza and home-made sushi.

What fills the emptiness is meeting friends for lunch or at the park. 

I've been so afraid of the emptiness: but doing nothing means I'm not enough.  I have to do more for my family; I have to do more for myself; I have to do more to be worthy, more weight loss, more running, more laundry, more cleaning, better. healthier home-made meals.

The emptiness has been expanding.  Time I used to chase - but there isn't enough of it to clean the house AND weed the garden AND get the kids' assignments done for school let alone take a break and go to the beach - is now expanding. 

It's amazing how much of our so called "good-for-you" after school and weekend activities involve more time spent in the car than anywhere else. 

Oh.  So THAT'S where the time goes.

We've got all weekend to enjoy ourselves.  This despite - or because - I've been to the gym Saturday, Damon cooked the kids omelettes, they built forts and badminton courts while I read and napped, we then had a leisurely (well, with seven kids leisurely) visit to friends where we swam in the pool and had awesome Hungarian food before dropping Ryan off for a sleepover before she and her friend got up at 4:45 AM today for their dressage competition today.  This morning the entire family (minus Ryan) ran 2 kms - again with friends - and is now playing, making their own brunch, while Damon does a dump run and groceries, the laundry is going and I am chilling out writing. 

It is 11:00 on Sunday and the whole weekend still lies before us!  Andrew has a friend coming to pick him up for the beach.  Damon and I want to hang up some more family photos.  (A fact Damon is not yet aware of!)  The twins can weed the garden.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll finally get the bathroom and kitchen pantry organised.

Or not.

Don't worry about Ian.  He just runs around in the middle of all this, almost 2 years old going on 7.  When he gets tired, he pulls himself a bottle of milk out of the fridge and puts himself to sleep on the couch.  Good parenting technique?  Maybe not.  Good survival skills: definitely!

And so the emptiness grows.  And as it expands, time expands with it.  The less we do, the more we are doing with it.  How we get more out of less, with less work, is still beyond me.  It's all a bit too Zen for me to comprehend.  How am I trying less, working less, and accomplishing more?  How is it that by stopping the struggle, the goal is already achieved?

My friend, a Christian, defined it in terms of God versus Satan, that it is important to know WHICH being is filling your empty spaces, which activities are being proposed by which entity.

I realise that Satan, for me, wouldn't be in the activities themselves or in what he is telling me to do or not to do, but in a disproportion of activities, in a focus or emphasis on the wrong thing.

Satan, for me, would be unbalance.  Satan is the struggle, the striving to achieve, the expectation of perfection.  Wow.  All this time I have been trying to be perfect so that I would be worthy of enlightenment, nirvana, a better reincarnation, God.  Who would have thought it was Satan making me strive for perfection?  Sneaky little bugger, ain't he?!

God is not perfection.  God is balance.

God is the emptiness.  God is the breath.

I am sure Lao-Tzu would say that God is already here.

Go out and play with the kids and get over it!

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