Mad Cleaning Binge

Ever since self learned that son is visiting with a friend, a few weeks from now, self’s equanimity has flown out the window. All of a sudden, MesoAmerica book lies untended on couch, and all self can see in front of her two eyes is — dirt.

She started cleaning out the closets first. (What the hell — ?? It’s not as if any visitors will be poking their heads in there, but anyhoo) She pulls out old journals (piles and piles of these). But before she even gets through one pile, she sees something that catches her interest, and it’s an old issue of Parabola, the issue on “Restraint: The Power of Not Doing.”

Hmmm, self finds that theme mighty resonant this morning (Will it make her stop cleaning? Perhaps help her navigate back to the couch and back to her book? We shall see!)

First, self reads the Letter From the Editor. And it describes an argument about what restraint is.

There seemed to be two factions. The first declared that “Restraint is a doing.” The second, that “Not doing is not restraint.”

Oh my goodness! Both arguments seem equally compelling to self! She plunges on.

“If not causal, what is the relationship between restraint and not doing? Is there one?”

These seem supremely important questions, at least to self, but now her mind is running around like a rat in a cage.

“The blessed freedom of not doing is of course a gift, and can never be generated by effort. But will this gift appear without effort?”

Further on:

“When you practice, writes Master Sheng Yen in this issue, you begin in the dark room of your ego.”

Hold on a minute! That name, Master Sheng Yen, sounds mighty familiar! Self rushes to her bookcase and there pulls out her copy of a little pamphlet called “Still Thoughts,” which she happened to pick up at the Manila Book Fair, one August. Ah, the author is Master Shih Cheng-Yen. So it’s a different Master. For a moment there, self thought she was seeing double.

Back to Parabola:

Master Sheng Yen describes the usual state of mind of an ordinary individual as a “passive and reactive state.” We live “constrained” by such “self-enclosing” forces as “anger, hatred, vanity and greed.”

Enough! Self’s got to get a grip and stop reading. Reading is the force that mucks up all her days, makes her procrastinate, leads her to spend all day at home in her pajamas!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Disappearing Empires

Poor son. Self spoke to him yesterday and he said, “Mom, I’m sorry I won’t be able to make it up there for Mother’s Day.”

And self said: “Huh?”

Took a minute before she realized: Oh, that’s right, this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. She’d spent so much time lost in her book — lost in MesoAmerica, frankly — that she’d completely lost track of this very important holiday.

But, trust self to make an excellent recovery! (Almost) without skipping a beat, she was able to assure son that she would not take it personally if sole fruit of her loins did not present at her doorstep!

This morning, self spent about half an hour revising a short piece (It’s so short, it’s hardly a piece: one page!) Then she returned to her book. And, in the space of five or 10 minutes, she read about the following MesoAmerican kingdoms: the Wari, the Tiwanaku (These two lived peacably side by side, apparently for centuries — no weapons were discovered at the excavated sights, so it seems they had entered into a kind of symbiosis: that is, they shared precious water resources, and traded with one another, but without coming to blows! How amazing is that!), Chimor (which Mann calls “the greatest empire ever seen in Peru”) and, finally (coming close to 1491 now), the Inka.

Self would love to quote, as she’s just learned about the meaning of a new word: “interdigitization.”

But since absolutely no one has been reading her last couple of posts about 1491 (Self checked blog stats this morning!), she’d better restrain herself.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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