We bought a painting of a monkey at a benefit auction a couple of months ago. The artist painted it in honor of the Chinese New Year.
I know next to nothing about Chinese astrology, but the painting ended up being one of those things I HAD TO HAVE, because that’s generally the way I approach charity. We took it home with some ballet tickets and a certificate for a month’s worth of guitar lessons.
I was procrastinating recently and looked up “Year of the Monkey,” – procrastination being generally the way I approach life – which is how I found out I was actually born in a monkey year, and that monkey years are supposed to be mostly disastrous for us monkeys.
This discovery lead to the following conversation with Mike:
Me: Hey, did you know it’s the year of the monkey, and I was born in a monkey year?
Me: That means 2016 is supposed to be a disaster for me, mostly, especially in health and my love life. …. And I’m supposed to be cautious about traffic.
Mike: What do you care about the Chinese Zodiac? You’re German. And Irish.
Me: It also says I’m to expect significant financial gain in 2016.
Mike: … Well, maybe you’re a little Chinese.
Just so we’re clear, I’m married to someone who’s okay with my being a disaster in love and health as long as I bring home the bacon.
Here’s the thing about reading up on my Chinese Zodiac: when 2016 started, I was in a conversation with someone who said they were picking a word of the year instead of a resolution. And then people around the room started picking words for themselves that were uplifting and inspiring and generally sappy like fearless, and giving, and uninhibited.
And I wondered for a second if anyone would pick the more obscure words like sycophantic or erinaceous or pauciloquent.
… Probably not, since so few people anymore see the virtue in behaving like a hedgehog. But I digress….
And I thought for a second, if I picked out a word for the year, it would discipline.
Stop groaning and hang in there with me. I have a terrible attention span. At the same time, I have a lot of stuff riding on my ability to focus at any one time, paired with a chronic inability to say no.
As an example, I give you Exhibit A, a more or less real conversation I recently had:
Person X: Beth, we need you to do this thing for us.
Me: Absolutely not. I simply don’t have the time. Good luck.
Person X: But we’re counting on you.
Me: This thing you’re asking, will it pay my bills?
Person X: No, in fact, it may make it harder for you to get more important stuff done, and result in everyone being mad at you for ignoring them.
Person X: And there’s about a 0.00001% chance you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment/make your kids happy/get some new business/make an actual difference in the world as a result.
Me: Okay, I’ll do it.
This is how a person ends up committed to about a dozen clients, another dozen volunteer obligations, a half-assed half marathon training regimen, at least three unfinished book projects, and a house and yard that look like a bunch of hillbillies married into a family of hoarders and started a wildlife refuge.
Which is where I finally get around to the point of this whole blog: An announcement of my intention to start a meditation routine.
There’s this friend of mine who keeps posting articles on Facebook about the benefits of meditation, specifically when it comes to improving self-control and focus. Helpful things when one is trying to bring more discipline into the picture and stave off disastrous monkey year.
Soooo, a meditation routine. Sounds pretty simple. From what I can tell, I just need to pick a quiet place, where I can sit without obsessing about the fact that the carpet looks like it hasn’t been vacuumed for a year and where no one will bug me for a full eight minutes.
There’s even meditation swag out there, too, which is kind of my thing. I could get a meditation pillow that would help my posture. I downloaded a meditation app too, with a timer and some tips and a little tracker to show your progress.
Of course, when I shared this with my loving family, they kind of pooh-poohed it.
“Are you going to post your meditation stuff, or make us all friend you so we can compete?”
This was from my thirteen year-old, who only wants to compete with me when he thinks he can win. … And who totally gets me. I mean, I would be way more likely to do this meditation thing if I thought I’d get points or something. Maybe a t-shirt or a medal, eventually becoming the master of all things related to meditation.
All of which leads me back to monkeys and my pending disastrous 2016. My Chinese horoscope says I can potentially stave off disaster by staying focused and disciplined. Science says a meditation routine could help me focus, and frankly meditation sounds like a more Chinese approach than the more German-slash-Irish solution of my ancestors, which involves less meditation and more libation.
Which, if we’re being completely honest, I plan to keep up with as well.
Nothing like having all my bases covered right?