Even as I know my own expert lives right in side of me, I still continually ache for an outsider to help light the way to me. To my interior self that knows where the path is and what kind of shoes I need for the path. Clearly, I need purple Birkenstocks and to paint my toe nails the same shade as these sandals.
Ask and the teacher shall appear, says Karen Maezen Miller, a Zen Buddhist priest who lives in California. I knew that she said this before the first time I spoke with her on the phone. I had read all three of her books. I can’t say I arranged the phone call. I can say I had befriended her on Facebook, and she accepted me as her social media acquaintance. I can say Karen is a writer like me. I can say she seems to like Facebook the way many writers do. I am making assumptions here, believing want I want to believe.
But still and yet. I put a call out for interviews about teens and cell phone usage on my Facebook page. Voila, Karen Maezen Miller offered herself up for an interview right there on my Facebook page. To say I was excited is to put it mildly. To say I wanted to bow before her across the miles and ask her to be my teacher is close to the truth. To say I would fly out to meet her is not the truth at this moment.
I can’t even recall when we spoke by phone, except to say she was my last interview of the day before I went and picked up my girls from school. I can say I do what I often do during an interview. I was not a quiet interviewer. I made myself known. I have dialogues when I do interviews. Maybe this isn’t recommended by seasoned reporters. Maybe they don’t believe in the power of conversation, but if I give some of myself, I get a heck of a lot back in return.
This, this is my secret folks. If you wonder why people tell me their stories, I will tell you that I tell them mine. I will tell you I’m not everybody’s favorite cup of tea. I talk too much and people talk too much to me in return.
Not that Karen Maezen Miller really talked too much. She did talk quite a bit about teens and cell phones. You can find her quotes in the article I wrote here. But I did talk too much about me as our conversation wound down. No, I didn’t bow before her as she spoke on speaker phone before me. But I did tell her about how nice and quiet it was in my office all day, and how hard it was to transition to being a parent at 3:05. I did admit I didn’t always have it in me, that I didn’t have the space to make the leap from reveling in my quiet office to being their mom.
And Karen said, “Oh, I think you do.”
The student asked and the teacher appeared. That short line was a koan for me. I heard my insides answer and there were no words. But if there were words for that deep tug, that deep tug said, yes, why else would I be here but to realize I was meant to fully expand into being the parent I know I am.
No, I’m not a saint. But every time I screw up this parenting game, that center in me is waiting to console me, to say, yes, you are so human, come here and have a cry. And oh, god, I have to apologize and say to my kids for the millionth time, “Let’s start over. Mom needs a restart again.”
Oh, I think you do. I think you do, too. We are all so human. Parent or not, relationships are often our gravity. Here I am being human. I screwed up. Let’s try again. I love you Karen Maezen Miller for the way you turned me back to myself that day. Inward I go so outward I can live well enough in the light of love. Namaste, my friend.