When I was in Thailand, I studied Buddhist meditation in the jungle with a runaway princess. There are many stories to be told about what happened there, but today is mother’s day so I will tell you just this one.
In the US and other Western cultures, we sometimes say “you can’t pick your parents.” It comes up in times of familial strife, when things aren’t all Hallmark ad-like and you wish you had a different life with different people in it. It’s to remind us that, nope, we can’t. Our lives come pre-fabbed with certain people in certain roles, and nothing can ever change it. You have to deal.
One day after meditating with the princess, we were talking about our parents. I was thinking about why I wanted to learn meditation. The main reason is to prepare myself to make amends with my mother. We haven’t seen each other is almost four years. We had a falling out and have only communicated by email since, and a phone call this past Christmas. I know that if I want to have a civil, constructive interaction with her, I’ll need to reach a state of mental control where nothing, not a single thing, can phase me.
My mom and I, we’re both highly emotive people. She’s a button pusher, and I have never particularly liked having my buttons pushed. I’m a wildling, very unlike the docile, Leave-It-to-Beaver style daughter she envisioned she would get, who would say “yes mother” and stay out of trouble. I used to have an extremely short fuse. It’s getting longer with age, as I push myself to gain control over my lizard brain’s reactivity. She considered aborting me. When she told me that I was a bit taken aback. Kind of a blunt thing to say to the person you did not abort after all. But I don’t really blame her for thinking that anymore. She got knocked up by a virtual stranger in the middle of a revolution, after all. Now that I’m old enough to imagine actually being pregnant, the thought of myself in her situation makes me break out in a cold sweat.
So I tell the princess I want to learn how to meditate so well that my mother and I can make amends, and the princess says to me, as if to remind me of something obvious: “You picked your mother.”
“Wait what? What do you mean I picked her?” She looked amused that this was a new concept to me.
“We pick our parents. The soul chooses its mineral to grow.”
My mind is struggling to wrap itself around what she means. Her English is good but i thought this was a translation error. But she goes on to explain that before we are born, our souls (or whatever you want to call it) are just hanging out in this body-less zone, and we can sense zygotes forming in the physical realm on Earth and then when we see one we like, we jump into it, like in Avatar.
My mind is blown. I had no idea Buddhism involved such cool sci-fi plot lines. I ventured down the rabbit hole with her, and imagined my higher self sitting in the nothingness, watching zygotes go by on a conveyor belt, and doing a double take when I see my parents’ zygote go by. Highly abnormal circumstances. Two people with lives that are worlds apart, who become attracted to each other but will not stay together for more than a week. It wouldn’t be an easy life. It wouldn’t be a simple or sheltered life. But with that woman as my mother, I’d have true independence, and the ability to really shake things up in this life.
I imagine I then look more closely at this woman, and I know I want what she has: the fierceness, quick witt, street smarts, and complete irreverence for what anybody else’s definition of “normal.” Most of all: the wanderlust. Oh yeah, I’ll need that if I’m going to be stuck in a body for 100 years or so. What’s the point of having one if you don’t explore every corner of the globe wit hit?
So I get ready for inter-dimensional soul travel or whatever, and make the leap into the zygote that I would grow into my vehicle for navigating this world, from a single cell into the 29-year-old I am now. Divide, divide, divide.
It’s strange to think of my mother’s abrasive parenting tactics as a gift I gave myself. But if I did get to pick, I’d pick her again. I’m pretty lucky to be the me that I am. Whether it’s because of her or despite her, nobody will ever know. But it’s nice to think I knew what I was doing in this life at some point.
Why did you pick your mother?
If I ever make it back to the US, I’m going to go give that woman a squeeze.
If you can help me get there, my mom would really appreciate it.