Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
Today, I am hijacking my mother's blog.
Last year I decided to start blogging anonymously. It was a very public diary that I didn’t tell anyone about. I eventually revealed myself in later posts. It was shared with just a handful of individuals very close to me but proved to be a wonderful way for me to stop mulling over the same issues that were plaguing my life at that time. It was free therapy! I still post once and awhile but it feels unnatural to do it now.
As any of you reading know, my mother always has a story (and has the books of these collected insights, and this blog, to prove it). She seems to have an encounter daily that was delivered to her straight from God! I thought that hosting a blog site for her would be fantastic. I was correct in thinking that. It has been a joy to get an almost daily email from mom with another wonderful adventure. I’ve been so honored to be the first to read these and then post them to share with all of you! (And I apologize for sometimes taking a couple of days to get to it!)
I think I was born stubborn. Flip through mom’s books, or search through this blog feed, and you’ll likely find a tale about me drawing on the walls, or catching carpet on fire, or challenging my mother’s explicit order to stop turning the light switch on and off. If you dug really deep, you might hear stories of heartbreak dealing with a rebellious teenager. Whatever has happened, and whatever I’ve done, one thing has remained certain: my mother loved me through it all and has been a constant inspiration.
You may be aware that the last few years have been tough for me emotionally. (If you don’t know that and really want to know about it, feel free to catch up at my blog.) However, I’ve been doing pretty great since February of this year. There were some rather cataclysmic events that took place, in the midst of an already existing mess, that ended up freeing me from the grip that had a hold on me.
I’ve equated that time with being on a boat in the eye of a hurricane. The hurricane turned into a vicious storm. The vicious storm turned into constant rain and enormous waves. That rain turned into a drizzle with a nauseating rocking of the boat. That drizzle turned into grey skies with continued constant swells. Those grey skies turned into a fog. The fog started to break with bits of blue above and then…I could see land. The skies were clear but I was still stuck without a paddle in the middle of a great ocean. I finally made it to shore. On shore, I sat until I had energy to climb the scorched dune. On top of the dune, I rested in a bed of grass but I gazed out at the great ocean that had owned me until I finally got up and walked away. Once and awhile, I’ll hear thunder and look back at the horizon seeing something brewing far, far away with the understanding that I am far enough away to be in any real danger.
Last night I had a moment where I looked back at the horizon. I was filled with guilt and sadness and regret. I didn’t want to do much of anything. When this happens, clothes don’t get put away, the shower curtain doesn’t get closed, dust bunnies occupy the corners of the house, dishes pile up in the sink…
It was 10:30 p.m. I was tired. I was sad. I looked around at the half-clean house and was disheartened. I walked to the kitchen for a glass of water before bed and observed the pile of dishes in the sink, sighed, and thought, “I’ll take care of those after work tomorrow.” The moment that thought crossed my mind, I had a vision of my mother smiling at me. I also had a vision of my mother who showed up at my house two weeks ago with a mop bucket and cleaning supplies to help clean things up. I thought, “My mother would never let this pile of dishes sit here over night.” I can assure you, no matter what she had done all day (and she probably did all of this on that day) - be it pulling weeds around her flowers, organizing shipments at Lost Sheep Ministries, cooking supper, feeding the homeless, checking in on prostitutes…and on, and on - she would have come home exhausted, looked at the dishes, rolled up her sleeves and cleaned them.
Instead of going to bed, I put a record on the turntable, thought about my smiling mother, and cleaned my dishes. When I was done, I cleaned the bathroom and put a load in the laundry! It was midnight by now. Although I appreciated my mothers determination, I was ready for bed and will clean the rest of the house tonight.
I titled this post, “Satori at the Kitchen Sink”. It was a reference to Jack Kerouac’s book “Satori in Paris”. “Satori” is a Japanese word that means a “sudden illumination” or “sudden awakening”. This is not one of Kerouac’s greatest books but it has a couple of moments. A great quote from it reads, “You are equal of the Idol who has given you your inspiration.” I’d ask you to ponder what idol has given you your inspiration today? Was is a broken relationship? Was it anger at your boss? Was it Instagram or Facebook? Was it the stock market? Was is a broken nail? Was it a secret website you gazed at? Was it a cold beer? Was it Trump or Biden?
My mother could easily give you a list of options for an enlightenment or an awakening. Perhaps she’d tell you to bake a cake for someone. I could offer, “clean your dishes.”
Now, mom is not an idol in the sense of an “object of worship”, but certainly as “a person who is greatly admired, loved, or revered” (those are from Webster’s). But I was able to take her example and apply it to my life and the result did indeed elicit an awakening - an illumination - joy!
One more note on Kerouac. I’m leaving you with a quote from his book, “On the Road”. It contains a passage that I have used over and over in life - I’ve almost worn it out, but I don’t think that it can be. It’s like a great pair of jeans or boots or that t-shirt you’ve washed a thousand times that’s so soft and comfortable when you put it on. I refer to this quote when I describe individuals in my life who are special. There are only a handful that I can apply this to, and I’m sure you have these types of people in your life as well! At this moment in the book, Kerouac is walking down the street with his closest friends. He trails back a bit to ponder the moment and looking at his friends writes,
“…they danced down the street like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!""
Thank you mom.