Friday, September 23, 2016

Enchiladas and Meditation

That one time I went to Korea to
see my husband in September 2008
Here's the thing: I'm a woman of a certain age. Don't let that scare you away.

I'm on a quest, and I'm looking for that thing we all want: happiness. You know—contentment, self-acceptance, to be confident and comfortable in my own skin—the whole enchilada.

And also an enchilada, because now I want enchiladas.

One day I stood still and really thought about some choices I had made that maybe weren't the wisest ones. I asked myself, out loud—what am I missing? Because clearly, I was trying to find something, correct some thing I felt wasn't as it should be.

Back in the day when I was in college, I took a business management class and one of the things I learned about myself is that I have an "external locus of control." What this means is that someone else is always to blame or to credit for my failure or success. It's the way my brain is programmed. I can see how this has been at work, in both good and bad ways, throughout the years, in all aspects of my life. It's the thing that lets me make choices I don't necessarily agree with but others assert are the right ones. It's the thing that makes me worry about how others will react or need before they voice it. It's the thing that leads me to say yes when I just want to say no. No. NO. NO!

But no more. Because, here's the thing: I've looked everywhere for that thing that I'm missing, and I realize it's inside of me. I can't find it out there and it's not doing me any good to keep looking. I mean, enchiladas are good but they're not the answer. (note: sometimes enchiladas are the answer when the question is what do you want to eat?)

I'm not a live in the moment, this is what I want kind of person—I've always been more of I can make it through this, I'll have what she's having person, but I'm tired of being this way. It doesn't make me happy. I came to this understanding earlier this year, and it makes me feel like such a steroetypical middle-aged white woman: I've got Eat-Pray-Love syndrome. But I can't just go on sabbatical, so I'm taking a more understated approach that will fit my world.

First of all, I started meditation classes at my local Buddhist temple. Everyone is happy there. Everyone is cheerful, helpful and oozes contentment. I told my husband it would feel like a cult if it weren't so introspective. The answers don't come from them—they come from within, and meditation is a big part of that.

I've tried to meditate before but I never thought I could do it, because I always thought I was doing it wrong. My brain just never stopped churning up distractions for me. But, I've learned that if you can't stop thinking thoughts, you're not doing it wrong—you just don't pay attention to the thoughts. It's as easy as that. The thoughts never stop, but the choice to follow where they lead is mine. This is what I'm learning. This fits.

And it's working. I'm not looking outward for answers most of the time, I'm looking within. Introspective versus reactionary. I mean, some days are better than others, and I'm still going to cuss you out from my car if you drive like a dumbass, but I'm working toward a goal.

I'm getting quiet. Introspective versus overthinking. Writing more.

Sometimes it's a sarcastic tweet, sometimes it's a poem or a short story, sometimes it's a blog post or journal entry, but it's writing and that feeds me. It's pulling my focus to where my head is at during any particular place in time. Introspective versus oblivious.

And since I just realized as I write this that I have all the ingredients necessary, I'm off to make enchiladas for lunch. Introspection makes me hungry.

If you want to check out the trip I took to Korea when my husband was there for a remote assignment, start at day one. It was quite an adventure.

UPDATE: the enchiladas were good