Zen Is for Men
I’m reading Leo Babauta’s book, The Do Guide, How to Master Effectiveness and Overcome Procrastination, which is about being effective in the moment and, of course, mindfulness is a part of it. I read today’s pages as my granddaughter played in the living room. I sat in a chair near her so I could be available should she need me.
I had trouble focusing on Leo’s words: “It doesn’t matter what the doing is: sitting, walking, writing, reading, eating, washing, talking, snuggling, playing. By focusing on the doing, we drop our worries and anxieties, jealousies and anger, grieving and distraction.”
Of course I had trouble, because I wasn’t focusing; I couldn’t focus. Distraction was the order of the day. Emma was playing on the floor, the washing machine was chugging clean a load of clothes, the dryer was twirling another load dry, lunchtime was approaching, and the dogs kept sniffing around to see if Emma had any food scraps they could steal.
“Ah, ha!” I thought. “These are the thousand things that pull me away from focus, just as they did when my own children were young. Zen is not for moms. Zen must be for men.” Memories of those days edged to the surface of my consciousness. “Wash the dish,” yes, but meanwhile, the thousand things went on then, as they do now. I don’t mean to be an anti-zen feminist, but it’s hard to focus when children are around. It’s hard to be in the moment unless you’re down on the floor with them playing. And even then, the clock reminds us that lunch must be prepared, food cleaned up, dishes washed, naps taken, laundry moved from dryer, folded, put away, laundry moved from washer to dryer, repeat, repeat, repeat. I don’t have the stats on how many books on zen are written by men, but I’m betting most of them are. Most women, and especially if those women are mothers, simply don’t have the time—or the focus.