219. Sliding into Alignment

I overslept a little this morning. It’s my “free” day, where I don’t have to be anyplace unless I want to. My lovely husband had already given A breakfast, and ushered him through his ablutions. My role in the mornings is more like vibing. 😉 But I still had to say good morning to A, give a shout out to his fashion endeavors, and tell him Bye, be fabulous, when the school bus comes.

So I confess, I swished a little mouthwash in my mouth and hurried down to the kitchen. Living with people who have trouble transitioning from one phase of the day to the next, I have learned that my kitchen noises serve as a quotidian background soother, and that they help everyone jog their bodies to the next task.

Like every day, I hit “play” on the M.S. Subbulakshmi version of Venkateswara Suprabhatham (followed by Vishnu Sahasranamam and Bhaja Govindam, of course–if you know, you know. It’s not morning unless those are playing). I used to feel very guilty if I did anything out of order for Venkateswara. He is very dear to me, and I always tried to make my actions align with my values when it came to worship practices.

But a couple years ago, I made peace with how those high standards were no longer possible for me to meet. People always caution that you shouldn’t make even vague promises to Venkateswara that you cannot keep; He collects with interest. I struggled with that sense of failure, and then realized that I needed to arrive at the wisdom behind what appear to be rigid orthodoxies. It is just another way of saying that we have conceptualized a deity who helps us live up to the principle of aligning our thoughts, words, and actions.

And I am already doing that. I have done that, faithfully, for the past nineteen years. Parenting autistic/trans kids has brought me into that alignment. It is not an abstraction, or an erratically honored ideal, or one that I can ever dismiss. Showing up this way has been transformative for my spirituality.

As an added gift, it has freed me from the unease and anger about how the labor of pujas so often falls on women, not to mention that even if the puja prep plus childcare being so tough on women is treated as the default, it is simply not possible in a household steeped in autism like mine.

Anyway, after A left, I went back to bed! It was so luxurious to just be for a while. I thought my thoughts and finally got started on “The Chair.” I know, I am always behind on Netflix. Finally, when I was ready to be up, I went into the bathroom, and while I brushed my teeth, and ran a steamy washcloth across my allergy ridden face, I listened to some music. I thought about how so many of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s used to dream of being able to bring our music and shows wherever we went. And now we can. How I was now standing in a suburban bathroom acting like it was no big deal.

These are hardly original thoughts, but for a parent like me, who doesn’t get much sustained sleep, random thoughts that I get to pursue at whim are elusive. My brain is often too fatigued, and if I get time to myself, I fall instantly into deep sleep. I certainly show up for rigorous critical thinking, but the languorous reveries born of deep relaxation are so hard to come by that my mind often associates them with being in my teens and twenties.

I have more to say on the topic of alignment, but offscreen life beckons, so stay tuned for Part 2.

Radha.

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