Thursday, July 14, 2011

We're all in this together.

While picking out a birthday present the other day, I found a little something for our home as well.

Zen Ties by Jon J Muth is a follow-up to Zen Shorts, one of our current favs. As you can see, the illustrations are insanely beautiful. And the stories? Equally so. I love that a big bear in boxers can subtly introduce kids (and their grown ups...) to the wonderfully welcoming world of Zen (holy alliteration!).

If you were to snoop around our house right now, you might think, judging by our bedside tables, that we are are a family of devout Buddhists. (I'm currently reading Buddhism for Mothers; Bill has been working on Awakening the Buddha Within for months - he likes to read several books at a time; and Liam often gets caught reading Zen Ties or Zen Shorts after lights out.) But we're actually not devout Buddhists (or devout anything for that matter...). We're just regular people who want to live the very best lives that we can.

That desire often leads us to the used bookstore where we're drawn to anything that sounds the least bit promising. Since the books are usually priced about two bucks a pop, we find no need at all to be selective. We've brought home everything from Who Moved My Cheese? to Dianetics, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families to I Am My Mother's Daughter. Our bookshelves are full and oh so random.

While we can almost always find something to take away from what we read, it's the books about Buddhism that seem to fit us best. For me it's like reading something I already knew that I was never able to put into words. Sometimes I see myself as I am now ("I totally do that already!"), and sometimes I see who I hope to be in the future. Either way, it seems to make a lot of sense. (And it doesn't hurt that the more we incorporate the teachings into our lives, the better our lives become...)

So anyway, back to the newest book in our totally random collection: Zen Ties. It's a playful and clever introduction to the idea that everyone and everything is connected. All of us affect all of us. We are responsible for ourselves but everything we do affects the world around us. Our choices, our behavior, our actions all have the power to impact others. It's up to us to decide what that impact will be.

Pretty major stuff for a five year old!

(It also taught us that we should always do our best. Liam just told me that. I asked him if he could keep himself and his brother safe for a few minutes while I took a shower and he said, "I'll do my best! That's what we're all supposed to do. Zen Ties taught me that." Awesome! But totally not helping me get to my point.)

(Yes, I have a point. Or if not a point, at least something I wanted to say.)

The introduction to interconnectedness was subtle, which I liked (nothing worse than having something shoved down your throat*) but I wasn't sure if it was too abstract for Liam to grasp. I was searching for a more concrete example that he could relate to and this morning in my inbox, I got one!

It was an email from none other than Miss Courtney Jaye herself. Yes, THE Miss Courtney. The one who sang to Liam in his room when he was a starry eyed three year old. The one whose music has been like the soundtrack to our lives. The one who my son is pretty much in love with, both as an artist and as a "very pretty girl". She's obviously a very important person in our lives.

The email was telling us about the Kickstarter Campaign she launched to raise money to help fund her trip to play the Austin City Limits Festival in September.


I had never heard of Kickstarter before but I think it's a fantastic idea. Talk about all of us affecting all of us! As I tried to explain to Liam, "Miss Courtney needs a lot of money to get to a show in Texas-"

"How much money?"

"A lot."

"Like, how much?"

"You're not going to believe it but she needs like ten thousand dollars-"

"Don't do it."

"What?"

"That's way too much money, Mama. You can't give her that."

"No, I know. I can't give her $10,000. Probably nobody can. But I can give her something. And if I give her what I'm comfortable sharing and a bunch of other people do the same thing, before you know it she'll probably have enough."

"That's cool."

"Yeah, I thought so too."

"She's a really good singer."

"Yeah, I know. It makes me feel good that we could help her."

"Me, too. Cause she's a really pretty girl and a great singer and we love her."

"I think it's cool that we can do something nice for her that will not only make her feel good but also allow her to share her music with other people."

"That's like something nice she can do for them."

"Yes! It's kinda like in Zen Ties. You know, how we're all connected?"

"Yeah, and how we always do our best."

"Exactly."

{Please click HERE to help Miss Courtney get to Austin. Thank you!!!}

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*Super random side note: When I wrote, "nothing worse than having something shoved down your throat" I immediately thought, "NOT a euphemism" which is something Bill likes to say ALL THE TIME, whether it makes sense or not.

"Can you help me with the dishes?"

"Is that a euphemism?"

I think it's one of the names he says he's going to call the blog he's never going to start. That and "Zombies Among Us." Whatever he calls the non-existent blog, the first post should totally be called, "Bill, Pete and R Kelly." It would be a video of him and his friend Pete at the R Kelly concert, which is where they are right now. For reals.


Before he left he was like, "What should I wear?"

"It doesn't matter," I said. "It will be wrong."

I really wish he'd start that blog. It would be highly entertaining.

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