So not me and other music to drown by

August 31st, 2008

The drowning man is not troubled by rain.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what sent me underwater a mere twelve hours after our seven-hour drive home from six days of vacation. The parking ticket on the car we left behind? The opaque algae bloom in the fishtank? The stinking carload to unpack and sort? That assault awake at dawn? No food in the house? No milk in the fridge? No cream for the coffee? The dog’s persistent whine to eat, to chase, to go outside? My daughter’s breathless urgency to make French Toast for breakfast? Then open her own restaurant? Write the menu? Make a flyer? Charge premium admission for patrons seated in the backyard? Have a lemonade stand? Have a bake sale? Have a Labor Day party for the neighborhood?

And all in the first 45 minutes of the day.

By the time my husband wakes I’m already over my head in dread. I’ve remembered what it’s like now to be home. A ranch manager. A playground supervisor. An animal handler. A carnival barker. So not me.

What’s the one thing I could do for you so you have a better day, he asks when I’ve sunken from view, just a telltale bubble on the surface. So not me.

I’m dumbstruck by the question. One thing? For me? A better day? There’s not one thing that can be done for me, I think to myself, because I’m not even here. There’s no room for me here. This is all so not me.

I wish you could see it all with my eyes, I say, knowing the complete impossibility of that request. Because it’s all me.


One thing I’ve noticed since I installed the new bloglist down the right hand column, the one that shows the title of the latest posts from everyone, is how often we write about the same thing at the same time. Themes seem to dance among us like the waves of a desert mirage. We write about power one day, belief the next, hope, wish, and the eternally cherished first day of school.

You might call this coincidence. In Buddhism we call it no coincidence. There is only one mind, you see, and it is what you see. The mind that is always in front of you is the mind we all share, although the filters we perceive it with are uniquely our own.

We share one mind, and in that way we share one life, but we do not share the view of it. The judgment, the resentment, the desperation, the dread, the fear of drowning, is only me.


There are a lot of things you can find on vacation when you’ve temporarily lost sight of the crumbs, the weeds, the dog hair, the fish tank, the empty fridge, and the overdue registration on the car you left parked on the street outside your house.

On vacation, it can seem like you find yourself. But what you’ve really found is that vast field beyond yourself, beyond your limited views and habitual perspectives. You find mind, the mind so easily lost when all we see is the drudgery of a daily grind. And you wish you could live in that boundless space. In truth, you already do.

On my vacation I found an oasis in a tiny shop in Carmel, a shop oozing with rich comforts and colors and drenched in herbal fragrances. I bought two flavors of these delicious shower gels, the one thing I can give myself to wash away the dread of the day. No one else can do it for me, thanks honey.

Then I realized, because we share this vast mind and all things in it, one of these gifts is most certainly yours.

The better to drown with.


Leave a comment on this post anytime by the end of this Friday, September 5 and you could drown yourself in 8.4 fluid ounces of bathtime bliss.

Oh! And you’re all invited to our Labor Day lemonade stand and bake sale. It’s a party for the neighborhood, you see, to celebrate the drowning of me.

I just love when this happens! This giveaway was won by one of my dearest drowning buddies: Lisa at Sunset Pig.

Plus we made $20 at the lemonade and bake sale.


  1. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing the enlightened truths of your daily existence. How quickly we can switch from bliss to blah.

    Yes, I, too have noticed similar themes and needs in our blogging. Awakening together as One. Incredible. And very much needed as we seek to heal ourselves, each other, and the planet.

    My husband’s out of town visiting some family. I’ve been home alone for 4 days. It’s been a much-needed break to just clear my head, focus on me, connect with my mind. Rest. Relaxation. Clarity. Renewal.

    I so appreciate your writings. Thank you, dear Karen.



    Comment by Lisa — September 1, 2008 @ 12:28 am

  2. Speaking of waves, surely you wrote this in response to my post from this afternoon…

    Comment by Jena Strong — September 1, 2008 @ 1:20 am

  3. wow yeah I know how you feel, I sympathize, hey when you find a way to make it better let me know. What adds to my dreaded day is when my huz goes to work and tell me to be happier and “have a good day” or “you just don’t want to have a good day” then he gets to leave for 11 hours to sleep then sleep in then do it again while I stay here in he(ll)aven. =p Well at least misery loves company right?!

    Comment by Teril — September 1, 2008 @ 1:29 am

  4. Drowning? Or just swimming deep?

    Comment by kazari — September 1, 2008 @ 1:39 am

  5. when I am drowning, I remember that you are always here to save me. thank you again. and again. and again and again and again.

    Comment by Lisa — September 1, 2008 @ 2:51 am

  6. Well at least you’ve no need for an umbrella!

    Comment by Shalet — September 1, 2008 @ 3:18 am

  7. Well, since I dream about water most nights, drowning is for me. Or not for me. It’s why I’ve never seen Titanic. I don’t need all that water in my sleep.

    You’re so you, by the way.

    Comment by mapelba — September 1, 2008 @ 4:13 am

  8. I came back to find my house trashed by seperated husband who had been house sitting for a while. Packets of meat in the fridge, car keys in the washing machine, cigarette butts in the garden and a toy gun on the porch (I’m a vegetarian non smoking pacifist).. time to reclaim ot houses whether they have been empty or occupied and make them HOME again.

    Comment by Honey — September 1, 2008 @ 9:07 am

  9. Thank you… I love what you wrote about all of us sharing one mind. I have felt that many times during my life but could never articulate is as eloquently as you.

    Comment by Mariah — September 1, 2008 @ 10:51 am

  10. The harsh reality of home life on the other side of vacation bliss. sigh. Good luck at the bake sale.

    Comment by Robyn — September 1, 2008 @ 11:58 am

  11. You are so right about our shared universal experience….I had the worst day too! Nothing went right, and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t shake my frazzled temper! I hope you (and I) have a better day today!

    Comment by Mindful Mama — September 1, 2008 @ 12:18 pm

  12. Wow, yeah. That’s how I’ve been feeling, kind of drowning.

    And then I work so hard on trying to find myself in the busyness, and get exhausted because I allow myself no time to just be.

    I thank you for being part of my mind and helping me see my life from a different view (that is an awful lot like mine.)I agree that there is just one mind that we can tap into, if we pay attention. We aren’t really alone at all.

    Comment by Rowena — September 1, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

  13. i’m not sure that i completely understand how the one mind thing works. but i know it’s true. your entry sums up how i’ve been feeling for a couple of weeks. simply overwhelmed with the daily grind and underwhelmed with myself. if that makes sense. i could cry over the vacation i need so badly and am not going to get…but then, i’m so practical that i can’t forget about the daily grind waiting for me anyways. so what does it matter.

    Comment by Sarah — September 1, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

  14. perhaps the bubbles could float me to the top of the thick, sludgy pond I find myself in!

    We’re thick in the humidity that precedes the remnants of Gustav that will surely arrive in a couple of days. I’m thick in the clutter of end-of summer frivolity and back-to-school reality.

    My kitchen’s a mess and my washing machine is still broken.

    But I keep reminding myself that I can put away one thing at a time. And then another.

    And, surely, the rain will come.

    Comment by bluelikethesky — September 1, 2008 @ 5:52 pm

  15. I will always remember an article by Anna Quindlen, where she discussed the role of the mother and the family vacation. She said that it’s not so much a vacation as it is simply “taking the show on the road.” I will second that, and I will also add my two cents about the homecoming: overwhelming and suffocating. Your first 45 minutes describes my reality exactly.

    Comment by Kristin H. — September 1, 2008 @ 10:59 pm

  16. Calgon take me away!

    Comment by kathryn — September 1, 2008 @ 11:26 pm

  17. Bliss in a bottle? They should be handing those out for free at the local pharmacy. Thanks again for your words. Your blog is quickly becoming one of the few relevant ones in cyberexistence.

    Comment by Anna — September 2, 2008 @ 1:19 am

  18. ride the waves of life a wise teacher once told me.

    Comment by Bridge — September 2, 2008 @ 4:35 am

  19. On my recent “vacation” I got to dance away with my kids, then soak for an hour in a hot tub. It was a glorious night … now I keep thinking how a hot tub at home would make me happy, but maybe it wasn’t the hot tub … but the whole getting out of my martyred routine and enjoying time with the people I spend all my time with.

    I still don’t have a hot tub, but maybe a bath with bliss in a bottle all alone or with a husband or a baby would make me remember to be happy.

    Comment by Mrs. B. Roth — September 2, 2008 @ 5:35 am

  20. I think practice is finally paying off- as I read this entry I’m not hearing myself say- wow, even her? Yes, all of us, living the same life, watching the bubbles go by, feeling the water pull us under sometimes. The tribe may be a virtual one, but the knowledge that we are all in it together is a salve for the heart.

    Comment by nyjlm — September 2, 2008 @ 3:50 pm

  21. so not me too. some days, anyway.

    Comment by RocketMom Cheryl — September 4, 2008 @ 1:45 am

  22. All one mind…different perspectives. That reminds me of the wisest thing my grandmother Horowitz ever said to me–We were talking about God and different religions and she said to me…”…Yahweh…She is so big, so amazing, so powerful and so unknowable but He gave us each a gift a little window to look upon her to know her and to try and understand her/him. Our windows are all slightly different but if we could just beyond that narrow view we would all see the same vast sky and green fields. We are all one. Thanks for this Karen.

    Comment by Meg Casey — September 4, 2008 @ 3:50 am

  23. I’d share a lemonade with you any day.

    Comment by Jennifer/The Word Cellar — September 4, 2008 @ 5:57 am

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