Sunday, March 9, 2014

the zen zipper

chop wood carry water was one of the first "zen for everyday life" books I owned, a book I purchased over 20 years ago.
its message that I love is this:
     before enlightenment, you chop wood and carry water.
     after enlightenment, you chop wood and carry water.
your external life continues---it's your internal life that's radically changed.

many of my internal processes are related to zen-like or yoga-like thoughts, most of which are rooted in a sense of flow.
of moving with what is, of not resisting.
of accepting and moving through challenges without attaching to the difficulty or the potential outcomes.
of breathing in, and breathing out.
over and over again, reminding yourself to breathe every time you need to do so.


I own a black zip-front jacket that I wear to spin class.  I shed it before I begin sweating, tossing it on my bag behind the spin bike.  then I put it back on after I've cooled down and toweled off after class.  I've only had it a year or so.
a few weeks back, however, the zipper started balking.   you know, when it acts like it isn't going to work, and then, magically, it does.
after a week or two of "will I--won't I" zippering, with its magical resolutions, I finally detected a pattern:
the more thought I put into the process (is it going to work this time or not), and the more tension I applied to the zipper pull, the less likely it was to work.
the more relaxed I was, the less I thought about it or tugged on it, the more likely it was to happily zip its little way up.

it's my zen zipper.
it reminds me to relax, not to stress.  that the more I worry and push and tug, the more resistance I'm going to meet and the less likely I am to be able to close my jacket.
I kid you not.

I still think about chopping wood, carrying water.  I do laundry, walk the dog, clean, shop, tidy up.  I work, I write, I take my kids to appointments and nurture, listen, and love.  I sometimes cook.  it's all chopping and carrying.
and my zen zipper keeps me steady.  it reminds me to breathe, to relax, to trust.  it reminds me that I'm not always in charge, that things flow better when I don't try so hard, when I don't stress and push.

it makes me smile.
and every time it doesn't want to zip up, it reminds me not to argue with my life.
so I relax, I give it up, and up that little zipper zips.


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