“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s one of the main questions we face in life, right up there with “why do we exist?” and “why can’t I ever figure out how to program two shows on my DVR while watching TV at the same time?”
When he was three, my son used to emphatically yell he wanted to be a “baby doctor and a monster truck driver!” Now he’s moved on to “a math teacher…or a scientist that discovers a new planet.” My four year old daughter usually answers with, “A pink princess ballerina cowgirl!” Same thing I want to be someday, how strange.
But, in the off chance my pink princess ballerina cowgirl dreams don’t come true, what are my alternatives? After much consideration, a few cups of coffee and some mind-sucking time spent on Facebook, my career path has reached the only occupation that rings true for this middle-aged housewife: I want to be a monk when I grow up.
After all, I love the Dalai Lama. (Holla, your Holiness! Text me! We can compare notes on what is wrong with humanity these days, it’ll be fun.) I’ve read countless books by him and about Buddhism in general over the years. I just finished another Thich Nhat Hanh book on prayer this past week. Pema Chodren’s book, When Things Fall Apart, is on tap for next week. I have the utmost respect for these people, their lives and their teachings. They seem to have a handle on this existing business. I read their words and take them to heart and I know they speak the truth. I am living a lie.
My daily life is so caught up in technology and useless information. My brain is on overdrive. I want to be free. Free from Twitter, Netflix, email and an overflowing DVR cache of unwatched shameless reality TV shows. I want to give up my cell, throw my GPS in the trash and delete my Facebook account forever. I’m sure I can live without knowing I have to turn left at 1.3 miles. Maybe I can manage existing without the urge to let my “friends” know in my status that I had scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.
I want to live in the moment. I want the power of Now. I want to know the Secret. Don’t tell me it’s not possible in this hyper, short-attention span world, Oprah says it is! I want to shed all of my wants and desires. I want to live a simple life. I want to spend my days meandering around some ancient forest, wearing nothing but a frock and Birkenstocks and owning nothing more than a bowl and a spoon. I want to be one with nature and connect with the universe.
But how does one go about this sudden career change? Is there a University of Phoenix online course? Can I catch a how-to video on youtube? Maybe there’s a secret monk society that meets once a week at my local rec center, right after the Tuesday night Zumba class?
And what exactly does a monk do all day? Chant? Think? Eat? Pray? Love? If this is what a monk’s life is all about, then this woman is ALL over that. Just please leave Julia Roberts and her giant toothy smile out of it for the love of God/Buddha/Oprah.
Even if I woke up one morning and informed my husband and family that Mommy was going off to “find herself” and become a monk, what would be the reaction? These days I can barely take a trip to Wal-Mart by myself without huge amounts of guilt and an unshakable feeling the world will fall apart without me.
No worries. As long as there’s an article on how to become a monk on the eHow website, I can take comfort in knowing my dreams won’t die. (Even in spite of the fact that the article tells me it will be “Moderately Challenging”.)
No doubt years from now, when I’m old and gray and the kids have long since moved out, these dreams will still be there, gently whispering to me, taunting, “Darla, you are not living your life yet.” “Darla, stop surfing the net for iPad deals on amazon.com, it won’t fulfill you.” “Darla, stop updating your Facebook status, no one cares.” “Darla, let it go. Let it ALL go.”
Meanwhile, I suppose I can always be a monk in my mind. Sure! I can meditate and Zen out with the best of them. Or just catch the TV show Monk in reruns. Good show! OCD is hilarious! I can SO relate! Yeah, I think I have a few dozen episodes on my DVR right now…Peace out.