At the Brink of Truth

At the Brink of Truth

Every breathing moment of our lives presents us with the possibility of awakening to wisdom. Every action, every thought we generate leads us constantly to the brink of discovering our true selves.

–Ajahn Sumano Bhikkhu with Emily Popp, from Meeting the Monkey Halfway (Weiser

I’ve always loved the rain.  When I lived in New Mexico, it rained so little that I had dreams about thunderstorms and showers, and awoke disappointed to big blue skies.  Living in Seattle, er, I mean Roanoke, presents me with new challenges considering how much rain we’ve had lately.   I want to embrace the rain, to continue to love it, but honestly, I just want it to go away.  At the very least, just rain when I’m sleeping.  It’s taking a toll on my kids’ enthusiasm for biking.  The commuting wouldn’t be so bad, I guess, if the  little munchkins on the back of my bike  weren’t screaming and melting in the wet.  Trash bags, while great in a pinch, are simply not comfortable, and umbrellas don’t stand the test of biking, though it’s fun to try to take flight, Mary Poppins style. (We broke down and  purchased some inexpensive raingear at campmor this week. ) The truth is, the business of getting from point A to point B by bike in the rain with children is tedious.   It can be done, sure.  It just sucks.  However, I’m learning about my “true self,” my threshold for minor annoyances, my endurance, and commitment to my goal of carlessness.  Some truths that I’ve realized:

Truth:  Mass transit works.  Instead of riding the bike, we take the bus.  It’s silly to think that the only way I can get around is to slosh through the city on bike.  The bus will take me most places I want to go, the kids think it’s a hoot, we stay mostly dry, and it’s cheaper than a gallon of gas.  We didn’t think twice about subways and metros in bigger cities.   The bus seems like a humble but accessable option.

Truth:  Be social while at home:  Instead of running around the city, we invited the city in.  My kids are very social creatures, and are happy with someone other than me to interact with.  We’ve hosted teacher-chats, parent-child play dates, and invited friends I haven’t seen in a long time over.  I’ve cooked copious amounts of easily prepared foods, set up paint stations and puppet shows, and invited the neighborhood in.  The kids are happy, I’m happy, and we’re spending wonderful rainy days with friends, connecting with people, having quality conversations, and washing the paint off the dog.  Good times!

Truth:  Long walks in the rain are good for the soul.  Nodding to neighbors, chatting with people you meet who are seeing the world despite the wetness.  Walking to the market with the dog, the stroller with the younger napping, the older child suited up and puddle jumping, and the promise of a small treat, this makes for a pleasant day.  

All of this is fairly simple stuff, I admit.  No rocket science here.  But we live in a world where, you want it, go get it.  I’m learning from and experimenting with the fact that a carfree existence demands you think differently about what you need, how you need to get it, and what the effects of getting it are.   I’m not anti-car;  mostly, I’m trying to be anti-instant gratification, anti-sendentary lifestyle; anti-thoughtless use of non-renewable fuels, and anti-car as the only way.  I’m trying really hard to not be anti-rain.

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