Monastic Mom


As my middle years are dwindling to a close and my youngest child will soon be springing from the nest, I find my life has reached an equilibrium. As I watch my children reach adulthood and begin to define themselves outside my realm, I sometimes find myself wistful for a return to poetry, romance and adventure in my life. Yet one backward glace toward past times such as these in my life and the wretched heartbreak or disasterous consequencesthey have wrought is usually enough for me to gently release my wistfulness and return to center.

I have had often in my life a confusion between desires and needs. As a teen I felt I "needed" freedom and adventure to escape the dullness of small town life. Other times I "needed" romance, music, poetry to "fulfill" my life. Yet, now I find myself in middle age living in an even smaller town than that of my youth devoid of romance and yet quite content with life. I can clearly see these past "needs" as mere desires. Living a life in dharmic awareness, I can see where desires too oft lead to suffering.

Should these aspects of life be avoided and shunned? By no means! Aversion is the flip side of desires. It is the "grasping for" and "clinging to" that should fall by the wayside. Living in the present moment teaches us to enjoy when one has these aspects of life and to release them when the time comes. Yearning for these when they are absent is living in the future. Clinging is living in the past. Perhaps the koan of life is to recognize the difference between needs and desires and live in the present moment.

And of course, the same is true for parenting. As children grow and start moving out into the world at large, present moment thinking is to let them blossom on their own and not cling to past times.

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