Choices and Consequences

When watching CBS Sunday Morning on, when else, a Sunday morning, I learned that more video is uploaded to YouTube every minute than I could possibly watch in a day. I can’t imagine the luxury of time it would require to even sift through all of the content on the site, let alone the Internet. I only use either when I am looking for something very specific, and something that will, at least in my feeble mind, add value to my life. But apparently some people have the time to watch other people play video games. Wow. I wish I had time to play video games (not really).

I have been sick and laying about the past few days, and taking full advantage of having recently purchased a Roku device. There are so many things — good and interesting movies and shows — that I would like to watch, and I know I will never have enough time in my life to see them all. It brings to mind a conversation I had with a TV-obsessed friend at the age of 24, a time during which I refused to have TV in my home. “I really learn a lot from television.” So true. The guilt I might have felt at that time in my life has vanished; it really is OK to spend time, some time, watching television.

But then there are so many other things I would like to do, like travel and plant gardens and write books and sip tea on rainy days. And then there are all of the things that I need to do. Laundry. Bills. Home maintenance. How does one fit it all in?

It’s impossible. And the finitude of time is slapping me across the face as I look forward to my 40th birthday in a few months. It saddens me that I will never have enough time to completely pursue all of my varied interests. The older I get, the more this realization intrudes upon my ability to live in the moment. Some planning is needed, lest I miss out on the most important things. Like season two of Happy Valley.

So there comes the regret, the guilt. Looking back on my life, I have wasted so much time. So much time, it’s unbelievable. Doing things that did not bring me joy, that depleted me, that robbed my soul of its warmth and effervescence.

Ideally, I would like to work toward a reconciliation of presence and planning — both intellectually and in practice. It is said that life is about choices. But it’s not just the big choices, like where we go to college and purchase a home. It’s also the little things in life that have big consequences, like which TV program to choose next.

Chillax Like a Zen Master Kitty Cat

I went to the doctor today for what thankfully turned out to be a pesky little virus. As has happened in the past, my blood pressure was a bit elevated. I have intermittently experienced high blood pressure since I was a teenager, when during a hospitalization I was monitored daily for what was reading in the 150s over the 110s.

My gut tells me that my on the high side blood pressure is a result of my reaction to stress — and even if it isn’t, stress certainly doesn’t help my blood pressure relax. Lucky for me, I share my home with three cats who, on the side, serve as humble Zen masters who constantly remind me how to respond to my environment in a healthier way.

First of all, Cookie, Pebbles and Bam Bam don’t hold a grudge. They can’t help but react, rather than gently respond, to the subtle annoyances in life — like when the cute-cute face does not immediately result in a treat. Yet moments later, they are purring, snuggling, and reclining belly up in close proximity to their treat stingy human friends.

Resting, playing, and enjoying the moment are my cat friends’ priorities, not something they try to squeeze in when they can find the time. It is simply a way of life for them. In addition, they appreciate the small things in life — like a squirrel climbing up a pole or rekindling a relationship with a long-favoured toy. These momentary delights are happily absorbed into their hearts, sustaining their vivid engagement with life.

In the safety and pleasance of my home, with three Zen masters to serve as an example, I should be able to embrace a sense of ease and simplicity at every moment, regardless of the circumstances in which I may be immersed — no matter how disturbing and enduring they may seem. Animals are friends and healers with tremendous wisdom to share.

Unintentionally Insensitive

Not too long ago while at lunch with friends, one of them remarked about an insensitive comment made by a mutual acquaintance. Having committed similar infractions more times than I care to admit in my own life, I felt the need to defend her. “Sometimes we say things that we don’t mean,” I pleaded her, and my, case. Yes, but as I was reminded, some people say the wrong thing more often than others — and then don’t think twice about it afterward.

When I arrived home from work today, tired due to allergies or perhaps some as of yet unexplained medical condition, I noticed something odd on my front porch. I looked closer and noticed that it was covered with little tiny ants. Having just killed a huge ant that zipped from one end of my desk to the other earlier in the day, callous human that I am, perhaps I overreacted. I used my shoe to swish off what my gut told me was a piece of candy.

And just as I did that, I realized that I just kicked a robin’s egg that had fallen from the nest on the stoop above. The nest which seems to be doomed; the one from which I have buried baby birds the past two years. The fluid-filled shell and about 20 ants were carelessly tossed aside by my imperial foot. I immediately experienced a deep sense of regret, then remorse. Even though I am not one of those regularly insensitive people, I felt as through I had violated the sacred agreement between woman and the earth on which she roams.

I can’t offer you a pleasant resolution to this story, because I have not yet discovered that for myself. But I have been reminded to be more present, more intentional, and more caring at every moment. Especially when I am feeling tired.