things about which i just found out AND meet my monkey!

Spotify. What!?

How awesome is Spotify? I could waste endless amounts of time with this. Most likely I will. I tend to discover things 500 years after everyone else has. For all I know, there are people out there getting around with jet packs or in fold-up cars or actually using Jedi mind tricks effectively—right now. Like I’ll bet there’s a whole information superhighway out there. I’m sure I’ll soon find out if it’s happened. (Or maybe I just invented something awesome! I’ll call it “cyberspace”!) But holy crap-a-doodle-doo, I could waste a lot of time on Spotify. And what about Pinterest?! How cool is Pinterest? I totally did not get the point of it and then one day I suddenly totally did and now I am wondering how I ever got by without it.

So, I have been giving a great deal of thought to my writing plans for 2013. I am hesitant to call these plans “goals” because goals are way to pressure-y. Plans on the other hand are malleable. Pleasantly jelly-like. Then instead of failing to meet your goals you adjust your plans. See how that works? (And, no—semantics is not a cop-out.)

I had everything sorted out regarding the publication plans for my novel, The Mosquito Hours. I mean pretty well sorted out—the bones of a plan. (I won’t bore you with the details. That’s what Steve is for.) So, I had these lovely plans beginning to coalesce, merge, jellify. Then I decided to enter a big novel writing contest (more on this as it unfolds—if it does indeed unfold) which sort of threw all my plans to chaos. And last night I stayed up until midnight to enter this contest at exactly the moment they began to accept entrants even though I was so wicked tired and I made the mistake of really reading the contest rules and it was rather confusing and I think I may have agreed to something unspeakable and then if I win I have to go to Seattle and that will involve, presumably, a ride in a plane and I don’t like that and do I even want a book contract in the first place and should I keep editing The Mosquito Hours or move on to one of my other novels-in-progress and this goes on but I will stop now just at the point before your ears start to bleed.

(You’re welcome.)

There is a concept in Buddhism known as monkey mind. Here I present an excerpt from Taming the Monkey Mind by Thubden Chodron (1995):

The monkey mind is a term sometimes used by the Buddha to describe the agitated, easily distracted and incessantly moving behaviour of ordinary human consciousness... Once he observed: “Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch and lets it go only to seize another, so too, that which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continually both day and night...” Anyone who has spent even a little time observing his own mind and then watched a troop of monkeys will have to admit that this comparison is an accurate and not very flattering one.

monkey1 Meet my monkey, dear reader! Isn’t she cute? (She’s not cute.)

After my monkey started going berserk last night, I couldn’t settle down. (Really? you say. I totally know you’re being sarcastic.) That stupid monkey tore back and forth around the joint and roosted in the rafters to throw poop down on any reasonable and calm thoughts that might happen to make their way through my vibrating gray matter. I finally fell asleep but had this terrifying dream that I was in a treehouse and was inexplicably filled with dread and doom and my husband had to wake me because I guess I was whimpering. Then I dreamed that I was lost and couldn’t get home and there was some really urgent reason why I needed to get home. Then some kid woke me by climbing into bed and kicking me repeatedly. Then I dreamed I was making out with this really cute boy. That wasn’t so bad. Then some other kid woke me. But that time I didn’t dream anything. And then my son woke me at 7:00 to ask me if I was awake.

I feel better today. My monkey is definitely tamer while the sun shines. The Buddha said to work towards deer mind. “Deer are particularly gentle creatures and always remain alert and aware no matter what they are doing.” So, I will work on my edits, take one moment at a time, see what unfolds and calmly and mindfully respond to whatever it might be. And cultivate deer mind.

monkey2 And occasionally, when the monkey gets to flinging poop, I will retreat into Spotify. It’s happy in there and very sedate. And you can make playlists of songs from the '90s when you were 20 and hot and one called “old timey mellow mix” with artists like Gerry Rafferty and Seals and Crofts.

Don’t worry. I’ll find what sustains me. We all will.

You've been as constant as a Northern Star The brightest light that shines