The Matron fairly flew to her regular Sunday Mediation Group. She loves these people beyond reason, a room populated by other souls who search.
Today,, yours truly needed that meeting, that half hour of silence shared by a handful of people. She was in a mood.
Actually that mood dogged the Matron all week. She was irritable and overwhelmed. The heart of the week included the three required "Professional Days" at work, most of which involved college faculty stuffed into an auditorium listening to people talk at them. One day this activity last SIX HOURS.
Yes, six hours of sitting. While people talked.
The Matron can't even tell you what transpired during those lectures as she was mightily occupied with her Kindle and Anne Enright. Indeed, over the course of those three days, she managed to read everything Enright has ever written -- and she recommends you do the same. Start with The Gathering.
But this was the Matronly state. Not present. Discontent. Distracted. Annoyed.
Her husband annoyed her. Children, grated. Even the dogs, the dogs! One must be in a particular state of mind to welcome the mad swoop of love from an 82 pound coon hound. She wasn't there.
After much searching, she realized just one phrase -- and one alone -- described her. The Matron was a fussy bitch.
Now, the combination of fussy-- its implicit prickly and prissiness--and bitchy--with its all out snark and critique-- is pretty much an entirely uncomfortable place to inhabit. One must remain in a state that is both snullen, dark, critical and snappy, WHILE ALSO offering prim critique of the unacceptable world infringing on one's own pristine (and practically perfect) state.
A woman of considerable talent, the Matron managed both, pitch perfect. Her poor family tiptoed around, not knowing if they were to be subject to sarcastic commentary or passive-aggressive critique. Mostly, John, of course.
"How nice that you slept nine hours! I was SO happy when I was vacuuming the cars at 7 am after checking my email and sweeping, just knowing you were getting really good sleep."
Or her favorite: "No, really. I'm FINE."
So she roared into meditation (again, that talent allowing her to straddle multiple, contradictory emotional states) all fussy and bitchy.
THAT'S MY ZAFU, IDIOT!!!
That's what she wanted to say to the 75 year old grandmother of 12 huddling on a cushion. Instead, she closed her eyes and the miracle -- the regular, predictable and life-saving miracle -- of silence took hold. She succumbed to the roil and ripple of silence, the breath in the room.
And felt better.
That more settled state situated her in a more receptive state of mind. You see, fussy and bitchy project. Fussy and bitchy is reactive. The Matron's particular fussy-bitchy state certainly found its origins in the world around her, beleaguered and overwhelmed by the stacks and stacks of tasks stealing every hour. She didn't write all week! Didn't meditate!
The Matron went over her woes -- this considerable list, this stack of woes -- with a friend after meditation.
The list? She's teaching more than full time (130% -- for the money) and that extra class is brand new, and online (Creative Writing). Not only that, add on the details of children! Performing Arts high school for Scarlett, auditions, rehearsals, the endless stream of friends and outings! Why, even on Sunday, the Matron had three hours of attending to the actor ahead. He Who Cannot Be Named's debate team needs money and yours truly? She is the grant-writer savior, hoping to plow out at least 20 to major local foundations. If you haven't written a grant? It takes hours. Then the driving, the friends and there's Merrick: tennis, drums, and the extra tutelage means slogging to tutors. If she wasn't already Over-Burdened, the Matron began the process of applying for a Fulbright to be used during her 2014-15 sabbatical. Plus, she's strutting her stuff for a massive grant application (50 grand and 5 thousand to three finalists), is revising a novel and oh . . . she'll have about 150 students. Don't even get her going about cleaning the house. . . and OH. She has to WRITE A PLAY for a local theater company. When in the world will she have time to write a play?
But a strange thing happened as the Matron moved down her list of troubles. Her voice trailed off a bit . . she became hesitant, unsure. A little bit embarrassed.
These are not troubles.
You may already know this, reader, looking at the above List of Woes. Not one item - not one -- on that list is an actual problems. The so-called burdens she's been railing against all week? Gifts. Gifts born entirely of success, hard work, and no small amount of luck: engaged children, a solid career, aspirations, a lovely large house.
The Matron has been commissioned to write a play. And was whining about it (there's that talent again).
As God-Buddha-Oprah-Allah-Universe is her witness, the Matron did not know this until that electrifying, reality-shifting moment on the sidewalk. All that worry, all that 'to do' settled on her shoulders like an ocean, is entirely 100% good stuff (okay, except maybe grading freshman comp papers), things she herself set in motion.
She's overwhelmed with opportunity. She gets to teach Creative Writing! And Contemporary Fiction, Introduction to Gender Studies. That's fun, folks. How lucky - -how fabulous -- to have a super-smart, top-five-of his graduating class son keen on debate --and if that's not enough, that she possesses the precise skill he and his team need, that grant-writing experience and ability. How amazing -- spectacular and singular -- really, to have a daughter like Scarlett? Talent, joy and kindness trailing her across every stage she's ever walked. How lucky that the Matron was able, at 44 and after staying home with children for a decade, to not only land a job at a college but establish a career. Then there's writing. A gift that's pure lose-yourself-pleasure. She'll be doing a lot of it, soon.
Fussy Bitch packed up her broomstick and flew home.
So did the Matron. Lit. With gratitude.