Autoimmune / Buddhism / Healing / Strawberries / Tigers

Tigers Above, Tigers Below.

Yesterday, I was angry.  Really fucking angry.

I was alone, parked in an empty parking lot with my anger.  So, I called the Food Snob.  I called my mom.  They both tried to make me feel better, which made me more angry because they were not angry with me.  I was mad at The Universe.  Mad at doctors that send me to other doctors who send me to other doctors because they have no answers.  I was fucking angry.  So I sat in my car and I yelled at The Universe.

Goddamn it.  For the first time in my life, I am doing everything right.  I should not still be sick.  Fuck.  You.  Universe.

As I inhaled, I was flooded with thoughts.  Pearl’s laugh.  The way Atlas hugs me with wild abandon.  My husband who believes that I can move mountains.  That’s what The Universe threw back at me.  Vivid pictures of a life more beautiful than I ever imagined.  My life, just the way it is.

Okay, I get it.  I’m sorry about that Goddamn it I threw out there.  But I’m still mad.

I picked up a pizza for the kids, drove home in a funk.  I followed our evening routine with my mind elsewhere, and went to bed as soon as the kids were asleep.  Lying there, angry, frustrated, and scared, I thought about how I was going to shake off this funk for the next day before it pulled me under.

I thought of books I had read years ago by Pema Chödrön.  She writes about using hard times to open yourself up instead of shutting down.  How, if we choose to open our hearts to the difficult times and people in our lives, we will find peace.  I needed to find that peace, so I went in search of some written salve for my irritated spirit.

This is what I found:

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.”

― Pema Chödrön
The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World

I read it over and over again until I fell asleep.  And I woke up this morning without anger.  This passage has been on my mind all day, reminding me to appreciate the strawberries that I have in each moment.  Laughing kids.  Ginger tea in my favorite mug.  Ice cold water.  A kiss from my husband.  Quiet time to write and reflect.  I’m breathing them deeply as they come to me, their perfection like sun soaked strawberries fresh off the vine.

Tigers above, tigers below.

Here’s to savoring the sweetness.

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