“Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. No one to be.” -The Buddha
When my kids were little, we lived abroad, and we’d usually travel back to the States at least once a year to visit the grandparents. Upon landing, I’d have to fill out a landing card, and I always got stuck at the empty line, waiting for me to write down my profession. Usually, feeling exhausted and frazzled after flying with three small children, I’d write something like professional juggler, driver, caterer or psychologist. I’d chuckle to myself and would usually get a smile out of the TSA agent reviewing our documents.
My profession for so many years was defined by all the big and small things I did as a stay-at-home-mom. And I loved it…well, most of it. And now that my youngest is leaving in a few months for university, I find myself asking…what would I write on my landing card now?
For a perfectionist, like me, the above quote by the Buddha is a very scary proposition. Nothing to do? For the person who stress-cleans at 2am? No one to be? Nowhere to go? If I am not busy taking care of others, who am I? If I am not going somewhere where am I? I’ll tell you where I am…in that crazy place I call my mind–the mind that stays busy with negativity–pushing me to be better and do better, the mind that protects the heart from feeling, the mind that got me out of poverty, and the mind that is satisfied never being satisfied.
But what kind of a life is that? There is no peace in that. Or joy. No time to stop and smell the proverbial flowers, or linger upon a particular sentence in a book, or slowly sip coffee, or…finally begin interacting with that inner child, who has been crying out for love and compassion for, well, a long time.
So, maybe the job title I’d give myself right now would be a version of the Buddha’s quote: “A person learning how to just be”…