Meditation, monkeys, and how I’ll stave off certain disaster

FullSizeRender (17)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?

Mike: Hmmm.

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.

Me: Hmmm

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?

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  1. From one monkey to another, I dare you to meditate for a full 8 minutes. Instead of year of the monkey, it would be year of \”Hey look! Squirrel!\” Let me know how it goes. I\’m fiercely competitive. If you do it and there are prizes (and money) in it, I\’ll join in! 🙂

  2. I just Googled Year of the Pig to see what it said about me and then got totally distracted by the fact that there\’s apparently a cycle of elements that goes with these things too, and now I\’m really disappointed that I\’m a Water Pig when I could have been a way more badass Metal Pig had I just been born twelve years earlier.

    Have fun meditating; personally I\’ll be spending the rest of the day quietly giggling to myself at the mental image of a hog in thick black eyeliner and studded leather headbanging while wailing on an electric guitar.

  3. I am also a monkey. I had no idea that this year spelled doom for me, so thanks for the heads up.

    I also coincidentally started a mindfulness routine just last week (I\’m fairly certain that\’s 21st century code for meditation) largely due to an old grad school friend who started a mindfulness page on Facebook. Small world.

    I don\’t know about discipline, but it\’s definitely helping to reduce my anxiety levels. Of course that\’s before I knew that my health and love life are going to collapse at any moment…