Full Catastrophe Living

Week 2 of mindfulness meditation.

I think it’s working.

I didn’t watch any “TV” shows during the day this week. (Now that I have a number of unnamed sources for small screen activity, I’m simply going to refer to anything I watch in my home as TV, regardless of where it comes from.) Ok, I did jump on my mini trampoline with Mindy Kaling. But that was exercise.

I meditated every day for 10 minutes. Every day.

I took a couple of nice walks in nature. (Nature is a weird word. When I go for a walk in the car-exhaustier parts of the city, is that a walk in nurture? Or perhaps a walk in human nature? What’s the opposite of nature anyway?)

I did some writing. Not that blogging isn’t writing, it is, but I mean something that could potentially, one day, be purchased from me, for money.

I decided that my aching coccyx is not cancer but an anxiety-related pain that dates back millennia to the time we had tails. I know it’s hard to believe, what with lane closures on the Gardiner Expressway, ISIS and Ebola, but the days of tails were probably far more stressful, so it makes sense. My anxiety has been seeking new places to hide away from the meditation, and my ass got picked.

There was at least one other thing this week that felt significant and meditation-related but I can’t remember what it is. I’m using most of my mindfulness up on meditating and thinking about the fact that I need to meditate, so bits and pieces are falling through the cracks, which brings me to the huge mindfulness fuck-up of the week. It happened at Costco - perhaps one of the least mindfulness-inspiring locations on my small planet.

I ran in for cereal and got distracted in the clothing area. I tried on a cashmere sweater I thought was on sale for $9.99 (well you never know at Costco) and turned out to be $69.99. (I expect less of them.) Had I known, I wouldn’t have picked it up. Somewhere between pulling it on, looking in the mirror, and pulling it off, I lost my Ray Ban sunglasses. This event by itself would be bad enough if I hadn’t lost the exact same pair while out on an alcohol-free date that was a total bust, only a few weeks earlier. A theme? I think so.

I was in the cereal aisle when I realized, and went running back. I rifled through and knocked about 67 cashmeres to the floor, all while sobbing uncontrollably, in the middle of the store, with people staring, and worse, running to my assistance. What tragedy could possibly have taken place? While it’s certainly not Zinn’s meaning, I’d refer to this moment as Full Catastrophe Living.

I called my mom, who was incredibly supportive and incapable of doing anything from her location, but listen, let me cry and actually offer to come all the way there to help me melt.

“I guess it could be worse,” I cried into my phone. “I could have cancer. Oh ya, I do have cancer.”

I’d like to see this embarrassing incident as much much more than the loss of a 2nd pair of Ray Bans in as many months, and I’m sure there are layers of sadness and disappointment about everything that happened this year, but mostly it was the sunglasses.

My friend Brenda says “It’s all about the recovery time.” Kind of like exercise, it’s not important how high your heart rate gets, but how quickly it returns to normal. On that front I didn’t do too badly. By the time I was driving home, I was calmer-ish - a bi-product of the meditation I hope. Still, I’m really happy this happened at Costco, far from my home, where I don’t know anybody.

Post scriptum: While people say they love my honest voice, I’m concerned no one will ever date me if I continue writing this blog.


Dear Aviva, This piece resonated for me on so many levels. While I don't have cancer and I live far from Costco, I do share those occasions of feeling disastrously inept in managing my life. Your ability to reflect on and admit to those moments of despair and share them with insight and humour, is a true gift. I do hope you'll still wear that cashmere sweater and not give up on the dating scene. This will, no doubt, lead to more of your honest and brilliantly written columns and remind us, your readers, to maintain perspective, humour, and hope!


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