"In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and kind."-Tao Te Ching #8
It's often easy to forget that at the times, I've been the lesser grounded individual. It's often easy to leave it behind me that there were others along the way who cleared the brush until I knew my bearing without the aid of a gentle road at my feet. I feel it in my toes now wherever I walk. I can see the shift of the wind and the groans of a tired man, so wrapped up in his work that thirty years later, in his time for repose, the memories of pulling bodies from blazes has worn on his tolerance. Even on his best days, screaming children, in all their innocence, can become a nuisance to him. I can see how men get wrapped up in dreams and forget to turn off the lights when they leave the room. All these things I understand fully well, but I often have to remind myself to have the consistent patience to approach them with kindness.
My recent return to written word came about with a post on Unknown Soldiers; tea without a name. The many unidentified samples that sit in my cupboard, waiting for their turn to dance with the kettle, gleaning enough information for me to get an idea of where they came from. Sometimes, it's just not enough to know for sure. The agony of the leaves unfurling piques my interest, as they eventually, with enough force push the lid of the teapot upward. During each pour, I carefully balance the pot atop the chahai so every last drop finds it's way to me. This process, one of the few I follow as carefully as I used to count down the seconds, is a reminder of patience. By not rushing, my next cup won't brew prematurely; there won't be unnecessary bitterness waiting for me at the bottom of the cup. The empty pot can now rest and the steam reminds the leaves during early infusions that it's time to wake up.
This Unknown Soldier, a gift from Brett @ Teacup in Seattle, came to me in a small brown bag, with a kindly written postcard. An oolong of sorts, but that's as much as I care to read into it tonight. I'm on my third straight session with it, which means I must be enjoying myself. The postcard, which, at the time, knew the history of this tea, disappeared somewhere during the move last September. So, I've got another mystery at my hands, but I'm beginning to enjoy this, in the way we often find ourselves spilling, to strangers, the stories we dare not share with our loved ones. Some years ago, on a trip to Paris, I met a girl at the airport. She and I spent the entire afternoon at a park near the hotel, watching children play and gutting ourselves out. Perfect strangers, but perfect for each other in that moment.
So, on meditation and kindness, where does that leave us? I tend to think about a lot of things as they relate to my life as a father. Tonight, Grace had another bout with not wanting to sleep. I had to fix a scheduling mistake today created by someone else. After reminding them to take a look at it, instead of acting, they forgot about the conversation, and failed to take care of the issue. After an hour of my time spent making the necessary arrangements, my child had gotten bored and fallen asleep. I was hoping to keep her awake until bedtime, but by now, she was beyond waking, even with my best attempts. Three cheers for late naps. She woke up in a great mood, but I knew bedtime would be rough. After several failed attempts at putting her down, she began to cry, saying she didn't want to go to bed. All I could do was hold her and remind her that it's okay to cry; that it's okay to be frustrated and upset, and in the brutal honesty of a child's emotions, the only thing to do is deal with it in the here and the now. At her age, she isn't concerned with yesterdays or tomorrows; she's seeking comfort for what she feels right now. The act of laying next to her until she is carried off to sleep; the gentle words reminding her that it's going to be okay. Simple problems merit simple solutions and this doesn't just apply to dealing with children. From the day we're born, we learn that crying elicits a response from those who look after us. As we get older, we're all still crying, just in a more complex string of notes.
Brett, whatever this tea is, thank you. It just may keep me company until morning.