Thursday, May 15, 2014

Paradise in Plain Sight

The first time I  saw Karen Maezen Miller's name was on the book jacket of Momma Zen.  I was experiencing a rare alone moment as a new mother, drinking a Starbucks coffee in a large bookstore when I found myself trembling in front of the display.  The subtitle, "Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood" were the words that made me feel less like everything I was doing was WRONG WRONG WRONG, less as if I was totally screwing everything up.  I was a new, midlife mom and definitely walking that crooked path.  I laughed and wept through every page, then started the book over and absorbed them.  Then came Hand Wash Cold, more brazen and hilarious observations on how to survive humanness through the endless and thankless task of laundry and, oh yes - the path of zen.  I devoured that one too, then started it over again.  Now, Paradise in Plain Sight has arrived and I don't want to finish it.  I know I can start it over again but I am really breathing this one in the first time around.

Anyone who has read Momma Zen or Hand Wash Cold will have heard about "The Garden" but for the benefit of any who - gasp - may not have heard of Karen Maezen Miller, I will tell you that she bought a small neglected house that had a 100 year old equally neglected zen garden.   In Paradise in Plain Sight she eloquently speaks of the kismet that brought her to that door and her road to rediscover the garden.

But don't take my word for it.    From the chapter entitled, Moon, "I was in that peculiar misery that follows as soon as you're handed what you ask for.  Up close, it doesn't looks quite the same."  From, Path, "Once you admit you are lost, everything you see is a sign pointing home."  This lovely bit from Curb, "The best parts are nearly always the parts we think we don't have.  At least, that is how it looks from the curb, where we judge ourselves at a distance from everything and everyone else.  We can stand on the curb for a long time, turn it into a crossroads from which every direction seems unappealing or even dangerous, afraid to take even a single step, so accustomed are we to feeling unlucky, unloved or stuck.  That day, I felt like all that, but I was about to get my way.  Everything was about to change.  It always is." And some favourite bits from my (so far) favourite chapter, Weeds, "Weeding is not a popular pastime, even among gardeners.  Weeds are the very emblem of aversion.  Weeding doesn't produce a rewarding outcome.  No grand finale, no big reveal. There's absolutely nothing to show for it. ...The most common weeds in the yard are crabgrass, dandelion and chickweed.  The most common weeds in the world are greed, anger, and ignorance.  This is the way to weed.  Anchor yourself low to the ground so you can get a good look at what you're dealing with.  Use a spade to loosen the hardpack and go deeper.  The next part is tricky.  Take hold of the stem and apply your attention, allowing the root to release.  Haste and carelessness will only aggravate the situation.  Sometimes you can get the root on the first tug.  Other times you'll just tear off the top.  Even if you don't get it all the first time, that's okay.  It may take two or three, ten or twenty, one hundred thousand or a million times, to get the root completely."

Yes, yes, yes.  And you can see and hear the lovely Ms. KMM here.


Snap said...

There you are! My copy of Paradise In Plain Sight is on the way. Gardens are me.... ;) When I saw the You Tube, I knew I had to have the book.


thecatalanway said...

Love all those quotes - I had never heard of her (sorry!)

Nice to see you here

Send us more messages from your patch of earth, please!

lots of love

Kate x

Kim Mailhot said...

Weeding, planting, sowing, blooming, fertilizing, lying fallow, many metaphors for this thing called life.
Live it, love it, beautiful Heart.