VERNON COUNTY - I’m not usually the type that goes around categorizing the events in a day into zen and un-zen moments. But, today is different.
My personal definition of zen is “peaceful, present and calm.”
Merriam-Webster’s definition that comes closest to my own is: “A state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort.”
Merriam-Webster offers no definitions for un-zen, but I think they should. My most recent example of un-zen is me wrestling with my brand-new hose. I pull the hose to the front of the deck to water my hanging baskets, and no water comes out. I walk back and unkink the hose, trek back to the hose nozzle, and here comes the water!
I move two feet to the left to water the next basket—again, no water. I drop the hose, unkink a different section, and go back, to have it happen again I bought plenty of hose to get me around to the back of the deck, but all this walking back and forth plumb tires me out, and the unkinking unnerves me.
This scenario has played out daily ever since I purchased a thicker, improved, and more expensive hose. There is nothing zen about my ranting, swearing, and stomping back-and-forth across the wraparound deck to fix the hose that refuses to stay fixed for one precious zen-like moment.
Today, after wrestling with the hose at the end of a grueling day of working in the heat, I decided I needed to chill out for 15 minutes on the couch, preferably with my eyes closed and in a prone position.
Enter Finnegan, my mostly white dog with brown velvety ears and a black heart-shaped patch on his back. He’s small, with delicate baby paws and a delicious pink belly I’ve been known to kiss.
When I lie down, Finn jumps up. He wiggles and worms his way in between me and the couch. When he finally settles, his head is parallel to my face and all four paws are sticking straight up. He too has chosen the prone position for a snooze.
Feeling crowded and uncomfortable, I’m unable to relax into a nap. When Finn starts softly snoring, I turn my head and reposition my neck so I can see him better, because he is that close to my face.
His tiny bottom jaw is hanging open, exposing his little white teeth. They’re smaller than the tiniest kernels of corn you’ve ever seen. Four are visible and one of them is crooked.
As he inhales, his naked pink belly rises slightly, and as he exhales a soft puff of air makes a barely audible whoosh sound. I find myself staring at those minuscule pearly whites, his twitching black nose that’s no bigger than my thumbnail, and the angle of his slack jaw. He looks content. He looks to me to be in a zen-induced meditation.
Watching Finn, my eyes start to get heavy. My breathing starts to match his.
When I wake up, my mouth is hanging open and there’s pool of drool on my arm.
I recognize this as my one precious zen moment of the day. And tomorrow, I’ll wind that un-zenlike hose up and take it back to the store!