There’s a Buddhist story about a monk who had a beautiful antique vase. A friend came to visit, with a young child, and sure enough, the vase was shattered. It was irreplaceable, and the friend was mortified. The monk was serene about the entire experience, saying he appreciated the vase as though it were already broken. The moral is to live life fully appreciating things as they are, for they will not remain so forever. The lesson is, children will destroy your prized possessions.
My kids discovered two little stuffed mousies I owned, Lewis and Clark. These were my traveling buddies. They were small, cloth, sand filled mousies, and they’ve traveled the world several times. They climbed Mt Fuji with me. The explored the Great Pyramid of Giza, and they’ve visited the quaint patisseries Paris is known for. I got tired of taking my picture in front of landmarks, so they stood in for me, gaily making an appearance instead of my young adult mug. It made me smile to watch my two-year-old daughter have conversations with them. I envisioned her exploring the world and the mousies showing her the sites they knew so well. Then one vanished. Morgan couldn’t say where it went, and we searched all over for it. Days passed. Weeks. Months. Her vocabulary improved. All the while, I kept hoping it would turn up. Tonight she told me she put the mousie in the big trash can, because it had germs. This happened months ago.
I feel so sad. I have lost something of sentimental value that cannot be replaced.(They came from a small shop in San Fran, 20 years ago). Blame is useless. I could have forbidden her from playing with them. What kind of parent would THAT make me? I could have checked the trash. Every trash can, every time. I should have done that. I think of his last adventure, and it makes me sad I wasn’t there for him, when he was always there for me.
And then I start trying to be practical. I can buy another toy. This is how the Velveteen Rabbit became real. I can MAKE a mousie, for crying out loud. It doesn’t stop me from being sad that Clark is all alone now.
I am extremely grateful for the things I have, and I appreciate my wonderful, imaginative children, who teach me so much about letting go, even (especially!) When I don’t want to learn.
There is another Buddhist story, of a young monk, well loved by everyone in the temple, who died abruptly, unexpectedly. At his funeral, the other novice monks were taken aback to see the Master weeping openly. “Master,” they said “Are we not to be happy for this man, who has moved on from this world of suffering, and will surely be rewarded? This is a good thing!”
“Yes, yes, yes,” said the Master. “But when else do I have occasion to cry?”
Tomorrow, I shall begin construction of new mousies; one for me, and one for each of the kids. Tonight, I’m thinking about Lewis, who has gone on to adventures unknown.