The Magic is in the Mud

Feature artwork by Mora Thornton 

Within my Home Sweet Om chronicles, this is the second of a focus on mundane magic- see my first here.

Let’s just say that everything looks a bit muddy lately… Juni has decided that sleep is for the weak, so Eric and I are up 7,000 times a night trying to help her find rest. And in that process, our own rest has become a thing of the past. I literally feel like I’m emerging from a swamp each morning.

But this is parenthood. Stiff upper lip and all that. I have built a barrier to negativity. But it requires so much energy to keep up that wall. So this morning I just let myself go. Eric was entertaining the kiddos and I let tears fall down my face. I was afraid they’d never stop, but the floodgates had opened.  

So  found myself starting out the window this morning, wishing I was someone else…  daydreaming I lived in the big house across the lake, and that if I lived there, I would have a nanny to cook, clean, and play with my kids while I nap, that my bed would always be made, that I would have hours in the morning to write while I drank hot coffee and stared out my huge sunny windows in organic cotton pyjamas.

… but then I thought, what if there’s someone in that house, staring out their window, daydreaming they lived in the cozy little cabin on the other side of the lake, laughing tired but happy with their supportive husband, and getting cuddles from their two amazing kids?

The Magic is in the Mud

And although my crushing fatigue and weariness of the motherhood role did not immediately disappear, my little life suddenly looked a lot warmer, more sacred, more lovely: I worked a little bit of magic.

“Most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the lotus flower of happiness grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering

It is natural to want to remove ourselves from suffering; indeed, it’s often necessary for self-preservation. The “fight/flight” instinct can be literally running away from harm, or it can just be a dissociative coping mechanism. But there is usefulness in naming our suffering as well, in diving into the “mud” so to speak- even if we have to run or dissociate from the hurt itself, there will come a time when we need to sit with some of our discomfort, our pain, our sadness, our exhaustion- we may never befriend it, but we may choose to have a conversation with it, to find what is useful in the muck.

Lotus flowers grow in swamp- their colour emerges from murky waters. These beacons of bright need their messy surroundings to flourish. 

Lotus flower
Artwork by Mora Thornton 

I saw my life from the outside in today… I was grateful for my two tiny hooligans and cozy cabin home and husband that comes home from work with a smile and arms open to take the kids. I wasn’t any less exhausted, I didn’t not have a hard time with Kas’s outbursts and counterwill… but it felt different. In yoga, we call this “satya”: the ability to listen to one’s truth: ALL of my truth, not just the convenient parts. The magic was in the mud today.

 

A MAGICAL TASK:

Is there a messy emotion that you’ve been avoiding but would be safe to entertain for a few minutes? If it feels accessible,  invite this emotion to tea; sit with it for just a few moments. If there is something your body needs to do, honour that (crying, walking, shouting, stretching, for example). Just let yourself see the feeling; witness it, don’t judge it, breathe through it. Let this be your mud. Even if no lotus emerges today, tomorrow, or this year, remember: “No mud, no lotus”- lotus flowers bloom suddenly, briefly, and beautifully. They are just sometimes slow in coming. 

A RECIPE FOR MAGIC:

  • Sometimes all you need is extra maple syrup
  • Anything said in a funny voice will get a laugh… from you, if not anyone else (I highly recommend Grover)
  • If it’s cold and snowy where you are, find something growing and imitate it … that shit’s got chutzpah
  • Grown-up colouring book apps are immensely satisfying for those of us who laugh hysterically at the thought of finding time for the real thing
  • If you have children, spend some time just watching them at points through the day- where do they choose to rest their gaze? What makes them laugh? What makes them call for you? In what ways are they beautiful today?
  • Feel your breath as it enters and exits your nostrils at least a few times today
  • Turn your phone all the way off for at least half an hour if that’s available to you. And then go an extra 15 minutes just to show the FOMO that it did not win
  • It’s always possible to learn a new word, and hilarious to use it in as many sentences as possible- and to watch people’s reactions
  • Remember that everyday is your unbirthday

By the way: the gorgeous artwork for this post is done by the very talented Mora Thornton- please check out her Etsy shop!

1 Comment

  1. Meg
    January 12, 2018

    Oh Bri…this was SO beautiful. The potter I am couldn’t resist the title of magic in the mud of course … Love love LOVE your gorgeous writing dear friend. Coming to you from totally sleepless nights and a vulnerability that only an exhaustion this deep could create. I hear you, see you, love you!!!! 💜💛💙💚

    Reply

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