We’ve had some taxing home troubles recently, with a refrigerator flood that ruined our floor and an oven – just 15 years young – that up and died on us. Just to add insult to injury, my deodorant has been discontinued. So with my shoulders up to my ears, I started to think about the things in my life that are truly calming. Unfortunately I didn’t come up with a very big list.
Ordinarily I love television as a way to unwind, but I feel like most of what I watch these days is shrouded in violence. There are exceptions, like Mad Men and Parenthood, and if you add up what I watch, the non-violent probably outweighs the violent, but someone getting a bullet in their head is the kind of thing that sticks to your ribs a little longer than the latest self-effacing joke Jon Stewart made. Having just come off of three seasons of Boardwalk Empire and now headlong into The Sopranos, I wonder if I will ever get a real breather.
So, unless we’re talking about Mad Men, TV isn’t the great zen master. How about music? I love listening to music. Of course, I’m not commuting anymore, so there goes my largest chunk of listening time. And with a few exceptions, Sonja isn’t all that interested in rocking out to my music. That leaves children’s music as my main audio consumption. It’s not all horrible and I steer her towards the fun stuff, like Caspar Babypants, but still, those kids songs are relentless earworms. I’m still hearing them when I’d prefer to be hearing crickets.
I’m not a big gamer, but I enjoy the occasional casual game. I thought Where’s My Perry was the casual game of the decade, but it only took me a couple of weeks to get through the levels, and even though Disney has released more, they are not available on Surface yet. That leaves Candy Crush Saga on Facebook, a maddening game designed to get you to spend money, leaving those who refuse stuck on a particular level for days or weeks. I hate it. It’s taking up too much time. I want to stop playing it. But I can’t.
I’d like to say writing is calming but I can’t. It can be fun, but even when it’s going well, it’s not unstressful.
So what does that leave? Well, for starters, lunch. I’ve always structured my lunch around Sonja’s nap schedule, which now conveniently falls in the noon hour. This way, I can sit and enjoy a sandwich in peace. That’s all anybody really wants anyway. At least according to Tina Fey. I sometimes read during lunch, which, if I’m reading something good, is also very zen.
I’ve found folding baby clothes to be very zen. I don’t know why. Though I wouldn’t define any chore as a “favorite,” I find laundry to be the most pleasant, and something about folding those little onesies in half and tucking the sleeves behind the back just brings me to a peaceful place.
The truest moment of zen is at night, when all is quiet, and I hear Sonja take a deep breath on the baby monitor. She’s sleeping, all is well, and I can close my eyes and get some rest.
And while I sleep, I grind my pearly whites into sand for having only three destressors, one of which is a chore. A lot of the stress is habit stress, I think, leftover from more stressful days when Sonja was smaller. A malfunctioning kitchen doesn’t help, but on my better days I try to remember that life is not without its challenges, and the challenges involved in being a homeowner are pretty good challenges to have. But that’s another topic for another day.
Until then, here it is, your moment of zen.