A Meditative State of Mind

It’s Monday afternoon here in Denmark. We’ve spent the weekend at with my stepdaughter’s family outside Copenhagen. It’s been noisy and chaotic, as life with small children so often is. I play Ninja Legos and tag and watch a video with the 4-year-old and learn how to say, “I chase you” and “I cheer for Bernard…” in Danish. I eat pork roast and let the fatty, salted rind disintegrate slowly on my tongue.

Whenever we visit in-laws, there’s a way in which we give up control, and all the more so in another country. Life happens on their timeline (which, given the time difference from the U.S. west coast, has nothing at all to do with my timeline). The kids have their own patterns that we try to fit into. The family keeps the house much warmer than we’re accustomed to. Add onto that my limited Danish, so I’m part of some conversations but completely out of it for others. (The adults speak good English, luckily for me.) Half the time the day’s plan was discussed in Danish, so I missed out on the discussion. This is never a deliberate attempt to leave me out, but just evolves accidentally in the midst of the household busy-ness.

And so I reduce all my expectations, detach from any particular outcomes, and just exist. If I see a way to be helpful, by washing dishes or picking up toys, I do it. I sing to the baby in English while the others make a meal. I go to the grocery store with my stepdaughter.

We’ve been to Denmark many times of course, since all of my husband’s family lives here. On some trips I play tourist part of the time, dragging family members with me to the amusement park at Tivoli or finding someone to accompany me to the National Museum or to Kronberg Castle in Helsingør, where Hamlet supposedly lived. This trip, however, is all about the new baby and my stepson’s transition to fatherhood. It’s driven by the baby’s timetable and the parents’ impulses to rest or to socialize.

This is a good opportunity, then, for me to practice carrying my meditative self into real life. I just breathe. I notice what goes on around me, but I don’t actively chase after any particular agenda. Sometimes something comes up for me, and I observe it, but I can let it go. What I find is that this relaxed state provides me a way to slowly transition out of the deep depression I have been inhabiting for the last couple of months. I am not ready to plunge straight into life yet. But I also don’t need to plan my escape from it. I start to see how life can be tolerable. Through the baby’s smiles, I’m reminded of sweetness and hope.

My medication transition isn’t over. I’ve still got a long way to go to get off the Effexor, but I’m going to stay at the same level while on this trip. My sleeping hasn’t quite stabilized, but if I need a nap in the afternoon, everyone just attributes it to jet lag. I don’t have quite the energy I should, but I have just enough to appear functional. I can chat with my in-laws and take a little walk in the park, where tiny white flowers peek up between the trees. Little Kristian, the 4-year-old, demands I chase him over the bridge; after that, we can go and throw bread crusts to the swans.

It’s all quite uneventful, and that seems to be just what I need right now.

bridge-denmark

 

14 thoughts on “A Meditative State of Mind

  1. I’m so happy to read this. I’m glad you’re having an easier time and able to be with your experiences. Copenhagen is top on my list of places I hope to visit in the future. 🙂

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    • I watch those, too, and try to listen hard to learn a bit more Danish (well, except the ones in Swedish or Norwegian). It is hard to pronounce! My efforts are always amusing to the family. 🙂

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  2. Glad that you are doing well, all things considered. I know that being in a place where another language (that you don’t know) is being spoken can feel really bad and excluding, even when that’s not intended. Those feelings are valid.
    Thinking of you on your trip, sending warmth and love. 💕

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  3. Thinking of you. I think breaks like this are so good and can be so healing. Hope the medication changes and all of that goes better for you. Glad you were able to find some joy and peace.

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  4. Well, we miss you, that’s for sure. I’m sitting here going, dang, she’s all the way over there in Denmark (sigh) with no stream of journal entries to let me know what’s on her mind. I’m going into La Q withdrawals. Little white flowers, swans, baby smiles, okay, great transition, now get on a plane and come back safely….Q, I’m not certain I have enough anti anxiety medication to manage your vacation right now.
    I have to ask because…well, I have issues…..are you the same person who went to China with her husband and I playfully harassed you about not talking enough about tea? So, um, what kind of tea does one drink in Denmark? Anything good tea wise? I don’t think I know a single person from Denmark, a lot of places across the globe but not Denmark.

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    • Hello dear, yes, I’m the same one who went to China in October/November. I love love love traveling. I live in a fine but mediocre house and drive a disgusting-smelling car and eat at home most of the time and in a million ways don’t spend much money so I can travel. Of course, this is going to be much harder since I quit my job in September. Luckily, I had already paid for the China trip before I decided to quit. The Denmark trip was a family requirement, since my husband is from Denmark and his grown kids still live there. But I will have to get my rear in income-earning gear before we can arrange for our next international venture.

      As for tea, I tried multiple types in China but was kind of disappointed by oolong tea. In Denmark, people drink coffee more than tea, so I took my Earl Grey with me. On the way home over the weekend, we spent a day in Amsterdam, where I was served a very delicious cup of tea by an Arab-Dutch man.

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    • I know what you mean about insufficient sleep and strangeness. Though sometimes I think the strangeness of insufficient sleep is actually who I REALLY am, when I no longer have the energy to put up my socially acceptable front to the world.

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  5. an Arab-Dutch man ………. now that’s some interesting diversity. i’m of African and German decent on both sides. Maternal grandfather born and raised early on in Zaire. My maternal grandmother is half German, 1/4 African-American and 1/4 American Indian. My parents divorced so I don’t have a lot of info on exact locations but I know my paternal grandfather was born and raised in Germany but was of African decent.. He came here late in life with his children. He Americanized his last name. My father was first born American generation. All of that is to say I know people travel but Denmark seems a strange place for this gentleman. Evidently he’s accepted or he wouldn’t have a job.
    Oolong isn’t one of my favorite teas. I’ve got milk Oolong that is so nasty I’ve been giving it away to people. I don’t like that milky taste in my Oolong.

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  6. Pingback: I’m Not There During Sex | la quemada

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