Unraveling

by Rachael on April 21, 2016

the mess at my deskI dream of the perfect container, or holding space, for my idiosyncratic, freelancing poet’s life. This container would comprise a spacious, orderly home and predictable routine, and (I imagine) it would grant me a more placid soul.

The dream makes sense, given the chaos in which everyday life typically plays out in our home. I neither sleep nor write as much as I need, my desk is a mess, and most days I just barely get the kids to school on time. And the kids! Who, after a day of obedience at school, tear into each other the moment they come through the door.

What doesn’t make sense about my dream, though, is that I imagine that one day, after a lot of hard work, it will actually come true. When I wrote in September that “everything in me could unravel” in exploring the meaning of housekeeping, it was this fantasy that I wanted unraveled, that if I only I could work just a bit harder or smarter, I could find a way to contain our chaos completely.

In one of the first teachings I ever heard, the teacher said, “I don’t know why you came here, but I want to tell you right now that the basis of this whole teaching is that you’re never going to get everything together.” I felt a little like he had just slapped me in the face or thrown cold water over my head. But I’ve always remembered it.

— Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle April 21, 2016 at 10:14 PM

Oh my goodness, this is exactly where I am right now too. Striving after perfection and feeling like dirt when my imperfection slaps me in the face.

It will never be together, and that is ok. Now if only I could believe it!

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Rachael April 22, 2016 at 9:45 AM

“I want to tell you right now that the basis of this whole teaching is that you’re never going to get everything together.”

Sometimes, I read this quotation and I feel relief. But when actual chaos is erupting everywhere, the idea that I won’t ever fully contain it or make it go away does *not* give me any comfort!

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