When I was a kid, there was this weed I loved. It grew wild in playgrounds and untended lawns. We called it sleeping grass, and if it has a real name, I don’t know it. It grew close to the ground, with flat, reddish-green, oval, frond-like leaves, and the reason I loved it was if you touched it, the leaves immediately folded shut. Whenever I found a patch of sleeping grass, I’d crouch down, and with a gentle fingertip, touch each leaf to watch it close. You had to be careful though, because between the lazily blinking leaves were sharp, thrusting thorns, sometimes long enough to poke right through your rubber flip-flops and pierce your foot.
Lately, I feel like sleeping grass. I want to close up at the lightest touch, pulling in my head and limbs and curling inward for safety. Also, I am prickly as fuck – all vulnerability and spiky temper. Circumstances overwhelm me. Words whether they are intentional, careless, or inadvertently overheard, hurt me. And when I get hurt, watch your step because I will slice right through your flip-flops.
Sleeping Grass Mind is a terrible state of existence. You’re basically sitting there, waiting to be provoked into shutting down or stabbing, which is no way to live. How then to proceed? I needed a plan. After coffee and soul-soothing croissants, this was the best I could come up with:
– Stay open, you twitchy little frond. Endure the moments of contact with other imperfect beings who will sometimes hurt, sometimes love, and always, always have something to teach. You miss everything if you’re always closing up.
– Focus only on the next step. Address and accept only what is spoken directly to you, and allow yourself to observe the behavior in front of you. Stop wasting mental energy trying to discern hidden motives or predict the future. We concentrate on the present moment and the next immediate step, okay? Watch your flip-flops.
– Try not to jab the hapless. You don’t need to defend yourself so hard and so continuously. Rest. Trust that who you are cannot be damaged or changed if you are certain in yourself. You’re not a thorn; you’re a rock.
3 Things That Were Good:
1. Waking up with muscles that are not-so-unpleasantly achy after completing a fitness challenge that culminated in 100 squats and way more sit ups and crunches than I feel are reasonable. However, there was no way I could wuss out when my 9 year old daughter had just done all of them, and my teenager was saying, “Good job, Mommy, you can do it!” while my husband held my feet so I could struggle through those last horrible sit ups. And maybe I illogically decided that his offer to reward me with a kiss at the top of each sit up was really more of a condescending taunt and I fantasized a little bit about smacking him right in his pursed mouth, and that little burst of hostility made me power right through. Whatever works. We’re doing another one of those 30 day things again. Don’t tell anyone, but they’re actually kind of fun.
2. I was in the midst of declaiming to my husband all the things that were irritating me and I suddenly burst out, “I know it doesn’t make ANY sense but I’m just a big anger ball right now!” Then he calmly walked over and placed a kiss on my forehead, saying, “I love you, my little anger ball.” Which suddenly defused me because I felt seen and heard, and I guess that’s how you neutralize a frustration-bomb. In case you were wondering.
3. The startling realization that my face fits perfectly into the hollow of my son’s shoulder – the same spot where, on my own body, he would tuck his head so he could fall asleep. Shortly after the anger ball conversation, the teenager came to my room and enfolded me in a hug – a departure from his normally Vulcan demeanor. “I feel like a monster,” I said, my mouth pressed into the fabric of his Assassin’s Creed t-shirt. “You are not a monster, Mommy,” he said. His chin almost rested on the top of my head. And I let myself take comfort from this child I have comforted so often in just the same way.
2 Things I Did Well:
1. I forgave. Actively. Others and myself. Not gracefully, and not perfectly, but with a gradual unclenching of fists and the softening of breath and heart. I forgave slowly but steadily, until I could find my way to some kind of smudged perspective. The process was messy, but I nailed the part about not stopping until I was done.
2. I vacuumed up enough fur off my living room carpet to fashion another cat. As it turns out, the filter on the vacuum was so clogged that for the last few weeks, we’ve just been running it over the carpet while making impressive vacuumy noises but not actually cleaning much. Periodically, one must remember to unclog one’s filter. Insert wise philosophical analogy here.
1 Thing I Am Looking Forward To:
There is a buttery, flaky croissant in the kitchen just calling my name. I shouldn’t keep it waiting. That would be rude.
Photo credits: “Still Life With Almond Croissant And Coffee” by John Nakamura Remy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. “Mimosa Pudica” by Roberto Verzo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.