So I have been doing something kid-free and happily selfish for the first time in, oh, possibly years. I’ve been attending an ikebana flower arranging class at a nearby Buddhist center (!). It is a deliriously meticulous three hours of placing, basically, two sticks and a flower in a deliberate relationship of angle and form to each other, to the container and to whatever else – the surrounding empty space. It is usually pleasant once I am going but I feel intimidated by the plant materials and the blank slate of the container before getting started. Actually, I’m not even sure if pleasant is the right word. I get frustrated with flowers not facing the way I want, scared I’ll cut too much of the branch, and uncertain if the whole composition is anything but goofy. The teacher says the art of ikebana connects to the practice of Buddhism and in that sense the act of living. Well at any rate I always come away feeling like I had a satisfying and rejuvenating break with my little plant sculpture, even if it looks like I shoved a fistful of twigs in a cup and it took me three hours.

The teacher starts the lesson with a meditation and a short reading from a Buddhist text. This week she said something about holding no regrets in any of the three moments – no regrets in the past, no regrets in the present and no regrets in the future. I mentally checked off my status: past regrets, meh, nothing much; present, sure it’s bound to be rough but I’m doing okay. . . future? What does that mean?. . .and that’s how I backed right into the bramble patch. Future. Regrets. Visions of Lydia’s life the way it would have been if . . . I blinked hard and tried to keep the tears from coming out, debated running for the restroom. It was unexpected. If I let it out I wasn’t sure it would stop. So I fought it off. It would be a scene and I’d done so well keeping it together, pretending to be a normal person with average problems. Or at least that’s what went through my head. Some days I think that’s hogwash to feel any more put-upon than anyone else. Serious illness, accidents, mental illness, old age and death. Shit falls equally upon us all. Well, maybe not exactly equally but it sure does fall.

After that I was flustered during practice and I broke a branch. Probably an ikebana faux pas. But I still found a way to use it and I think my arrangement looked surprisingly spectacular in the end. Sorry but it isn’t what is shown in the photo above. Since I had borrowed the Buddhist Center’s vase for the ikebana lesson, I took the arrangement apart and wrapped the flowers in newspaper to bring with me. The photo is what I shoved in the cup when I got home (haha), plus a bloom from our garden that accidentally snapped off. Cotinus (I think), gladiolus, delphinium…spending time with the plants helps me breathe and get on with things.