No Mud, No Lotus
Updated: Apr 12, 2020
Last Sunday night I received an email from my niece Jodi. It was an invitation to join an email collective meant to inspire other women during this stressful time. I immediately flashed back to chain letters and later texts that promised ominous outcomes to those who broke the chain.
It turns out this was a one and done, send a picture/poem/ quote to one person and send the email to up to 20 people in the bcc line. Jodi said keep it simple, don’t agonize. I tried not to, but agonizing is one of my great gifts. I had never even realized what bcc was, who knew you could secretly include people in a conversation. I took a moment to fret over who might have been sneakily included in chats with friends... Then onto the challenge of inspiration. I thought of favorite authors, movies, quotes etc; realized I had five days and let it go for the night. After a few days of procrastination, it came to me.
For over a decade I have been working on collage inspiration journals. Quotes are written in frequently, filling in blank areas; my goal is to eventually have no blank spots anywhere. (Have I mentioned before that I have a fairly wide obsessive streak.) The clippings get saved for when the mood strikes... My sister saw me working on it during the holidays and asked with a sigh, “why not just create a board on Pinterest.” Now, l like Pinterest, but that is so 21 century; I barely have a toe dipped in these newfangled waters :). Honestly, I like the hands on, the sheer mindfulness that happens while I am cutting, pasting and revisiting what I have done previously. I ended up sending five pages to my email chain recipient, but am just sharing my favorite here.
No mud no lotus is a quote from the amazing Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, and is the title of one of his books. So simple and powerful, it is a message I carry with me always as it is tattooed above my left ankle. I got it during a particularly difficult time in my life; on the left leg as a defiant retort to the nerve damage wreaking havoc on that side. It’s the message we all need to carry right now, as we face another month of this nightmare of isolation , anxiety and dread. The anxiety got to me a little bit this week. Friends and family members have tested positive for the virus, and the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. Added to that is the continuing saga of my mom and the quest for bananas, Lactaid free milk, and the one and only frozen dinner she likes (lean cuisine meatloaf with mashed potatoes); delivery service is at a premium and the stock is low. The indomitable Maria, (my mom) is healthy and strong, albeit bored and so bitter about the lack of Yankee games. She has said in the past she is not dying until the Yankees win another championship, my worrying about her is apparently silly; she seems to be staying home yet I worry nonetheless.
So, I was calmed by skimming my journals looking for just the right message. I love the idea of courage as the foremost spiritual quality. Courage is exactly what we need now. More friends and family are inevitably going to be stricken with this virus, most will recover some will not. The challenge for all of us will be to keep our sense of joy and laughter alive. I have been lifted by all the humor that is coming out during this sadness. While not a participant in the twitterverse, I spend a fair amount of time reading lists of funniest tweets. I am apparently not the only one who thinks Stephen King might have written this start of 2020. (Read The Stand for a pandemic turned fight between good and evil; it is quite brilliant, perhaps he has already told our story.) I received my first email from the collective, and it was perfect. K. wrote “not inspirational but brings a smile to my face every time I look at it.” Here is Wilson the dog, a lotus flower , bringing a smile to my face and I hope yours too.