Friday, August 26, 2011

TP Holder Teachings

This morning I was all set to write about my first overnight meditation retreat or the east coast quake. Instead, my experience of dropping a toilet paper holder in the toilet while the toilet was flushing is the thing that immediately rose to the top.

Today started off delightfully enough. Partner was off for the day. We had a very sweet time eating breakfast on the patio outside and sharing a meditation session outside together under a beautiful blue sky – the calm before Hurricane Irene’s schedule visit tomorrow. I cleaned off the counters and he was washing dishes. I got recycling organized and suggested we could drop it off at the center together.

Before leaving, I used the bathroom. I had just used the last of the toilet paper. As I flushed, I took off our wooden toilet paper holder and reached in the cabinet over the toilet (who thought this was a good idea?) for more paper. We were out. Partner was at the doorway by then as I mentioned this. And then, it simply dropped from my hand and fell in as the toilet was swirling.

I remember thinking very clearly: I am not putting my hand in there to fish it out. I probably even said this out loud, as Partner stood off in the distance watching.

I watched as it bobbled near the drain in the bowl, hoping, hoping that it would not go down. Don't do it, I kept saying to myself.

Alas, it went under and beyond the bowl.

In a split second, all of my disbelief coalesced into some kind of garbled version of shame and guilt. In my childhood, my father would rant over accidents that us kids did.

Partner was there looking at me: Now what? It's got to come out.

Looking under the kitchen sink, I thought I had a set of those yellow rubber gloves. But none were to be found.

I went to the drawer with lots of recycled plastic bags and looked for a large sturdy one. I put it over my hand/arm. Good, it went up to my elbow.

I marched back in and plunged my hand into the toilet and tried to feel as far up as I could go.


Shit, this is bad, I thought. I felt sick as Partner looked on.

He said quietly, you may want to call your friend.

I had no idea who he was talking about. He said: You know, the plumber.

Just like Partner uses certain trades people that go back generations with his family, this one was mine in our relationship.

Plumber has deep connections with my family and remembers a time when he stayed over in the home I grew up in and looked out the same window facing the barnyard and mountain behind that I saw a generation later.

The thing is, I could not make the call. I was all choked up with humiliation. I wanted to run away, but there was nowhere to go. I wanted to throw myself on the bed and cry, but other housemates were still in bed. So I walked out the back of the house and into the woods where there is a fire circle.

My childhood fears came flooding forward. Fears of worthlessness, fears of causing trouble, fears of stupidity, fears of costing money, fears of..., lots of stuff came up and out from various childhood stages and situations.

I thought, maybe some of my clients' issues are getting to me. When I came home last night from work, I had picked up the wrong item at the grocery store. Partner mentioned it without blame. I felt a little emotional over that. At the time, he asked if anything had happened. No.

Sitting on the wood bench, I wondered if the jittery financial and political situation in the world and the tremendous change that is taking place is affecting me. I left a troubling part-time job with the plan of building my business. My last paycheck from that organization comes today. I have some work, but not enough. I'd gone to a local Chamber of Commerce meeting yesterday morning and was disheartened as I witnessed small town struggles and small business challenges. I also witnessed people with a huge commitment to bettering the community.

Then there was the east coast earthquake earlier this week. It really rumbled and shook the house. The floor moved, the windows rattled. We thought everything was okay. But the next day, the water was yellow. We boiled water and used bought water for two days. But it also shook to death our old air conditioning unit and finished it off. The repair man came out and would be giving us an estimate on replacement. Insurance doesn't cover this stuff.

My Achilles heel is accidentally doing something that costs a lot of money. We have generations on my paternal side that live so small it hurts. They prefer to read or write or go on little side trips like little scraps of bread. They don't do traditional 8-5 work. They farm, they teach, they mine, they cook, they make art, play music, go to church. They lived their lives close to the bone.

As the fear and tears subsided, I made my way back inside.

I called Plumber. He said, don't worry. If you want, get a mirror and a flashlight and see if you can see it. Otherwise, go ahead and use it. If is stops up, then we will do something. If not, it can function the way it is until it stops. Or, the roller may even move on.

Partner and I discussed the options. We will continue to flush until it backs up and we need help.

No one blamed me. No one laughed or teased me.

My mind's wild ride with its rolling emotions submerged me temporarily. But the power of mindfulness practice is that it allows me to see things a lot more objectively, feel what is going on, and see what comes up. This offers the opportunity to practice kindness for myself and the generations before me who also dealt with those same patterns.

It's good to flush the mind.

As a curious person, this kind of research is so helpful. Now I will be wondering where my teacher, the little roller, is and where its final destination ends.