“We often hand our tension over to others without understanding that it wasn’t ours to begin with. Someone passed it to us, and so we pass it to the next person, and they to the next, until it lands in the hands of someone with the tools to process it and let it go. The more of us who are open to inner work, the more points there will be in the giant web of humanity where harm will not be able to spread.” -Yung Pueblo
Last night our two-year-old daughter was struggling to go and stay asleep. It was about 1am when I finally fell asleep with her wide awake, but wedged safely, between my husband and I in our bed. I truly have no idea what time she fell asleep.
Our four-year-old son came into our room about 6am, which is not abnormal as we are normally already awake or about to wake at this time but today was different. We all needed just a little more time. My tired eyes struggled to see how I could convince our son to go back to sleep, so I wooed him with Kung Fu Panda II, and he settled in, awkwardly resting on my pelvis/stomach area to quietly watch the movie on the tv in our bedroom.
Then the dogs heard that someone was awake and rushed into the bedroom. Our 60-pound labradoodle, eager for some cuddle time with our son jumped forcefully onto our bed and landed directly on top of our sleeping daughter. Luckily, she did not stir, and the dog settled between my legs as my daughter snuggled in against my right shoulder.
There was a brief reprieve of comfort before our other dog, a Black Mouth Cur – who is also 60 pounds, jumped on the bed and forcefully cuddled with me on my left side under my arm and pressed against my ribs. Our son was now in a sort of nest with on my stomach, leaning against the Labradoodle, I was effectively being pinned down on all sides.
My dear husband was happily snoring next to me, and our exhausted daughter was sleeping peacefully between us, nestled as close to me as possible without being directly under me. I understood then that the task that laid ahead of me was to find rest if I could but more importantly to not move and disrupt the delicate balance of six living beings in our bed.
During this time, I did several breathing exercises and mindfulness meditations. My heart was full of gratitude that I had so much love surrounding me, and I focused on the promise of a new day, rather than my exhaustion and the annoyance of spending precious morning hours stuck in bed.
Despite my best efforts, my started mind to wander to resentment after about thirty minutes or so of suspended movement. I watched my husband snoring and resisted the urge to wake him up so I wouldn’t have to be miserable alone. Thankfully, our son was blissfully unaware of my discomfort and his sister was completely unaware as she slumbered.
Then the Black Mouth Cur farted, which startled her awake, then she repositioned herself before going back to sleep. This allowed me the opportunity to free a hand and grab my cell phone. Now I was armed with the endless entertainment of the internet. Thing were starting to look up.
Marcus Aurelius is usually my first stop when I need inspiration and Seneca when I need to reflect on something specific. However, today, I bypassed them both in favor of aimless scrolling and stumbled upon the works of Yung Pablo, specifically, the referenced quote.
My reflection on Pablo’s words allowed me to free myself from resentment and annoyance, so much so, that I was able to fall back asleep. When I woke an hour later, little had changed around me. The dogs were still being space hogs and their flatulence was still prominent. And I was still the cornerstone for slumber for our daughter. Nothing had changed but my perspective.
Our daughter was starting to churn and called out “mama” and “I’m hungry” a few times before her eyes opened all the way, and with that it was all over. Our son started jumping on the bed saying he wanted a “snack” and both dogs jumped down from the bed, barking, wanting to go outside. My dearest husband was still asleep, but I was freed from the conflict of waking him, as our daughter took it upon herself to greet him by jumping on his head while laughing hysterically. By 8:30am we were all awake and life was in full swing.
Right now, it is 6:45 pm and I can confidently say that today was success. We had a pancake breakfast, I had a zoom chat with a friend, we had a dance party with the kids, we went to a baseball game and closed the busy day by watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Life is good. Today was a fantastic day.
The moments of annoyance in the morning have been lost by the overwhelming number of happy moments gathered throughout the day. But I do wonder how much of this gratitude could have been lost had I woken up with different intentions. How could have the day looked if I had chosen to be well rested instead of helpful?
The answer is almost inconsequential, as rhetoric isn’t my strong suit, but the sentiment remains: I choose how I greet the day, regardless of what I am surrounded with. I can find beautiful irony in that the meditation I came across while struggling to take the brunt of the morning’s chaos caused me to shift my perspective from inwards selfishness to outwards usefulness.
Today, I will remember that I have many tools to deal with all sorts of circumstances that some of my fellows may find difficult to navigate. My practices and skills are most powerful when my actions benefit others.