Do You Know What a Jizo Statue Is?

A few weeks ago, a package arrived in the mail from a friend. It was a small box that was surprisingly heavy. The return address on the package said it was from The Monastery Store in Mt. Tremper, New York. Hmm. I knew a friend was mailing me a package as she had told me to be expecting something…but what was this?

When I opened the box, I discovered a small cast iron Buddha looking statue. What was this thing, I thought? A Buddha to pray with?

The packaging slip included described this little guy as “3” Cast Iron Jizo.” Okaaay. Who is that? (Sounds a little naughty too, but ahem, I digress…).

Before calling my friend to thank her for her gift, I did a little research. (Didn’t want to be completely Jizo ignorant.) So, apparently a Jizo is a Bodhisattva (Japanese Buddhist god) who plays the role as a protector of children and unborn children who died before their parents.

From Jizo Statues: The Japanese Statues Giving Closure To Women Who Have Miscarried:

“The statues are believed to be protectors of children and unborn babies in traditional Japanese Buddhist teachings. It is believed that as the babies did not have the chance to build up good karma on earth, Jizo helps smuggle the children into the afterlife in the sleeves of his robe.”

Many women who have experienced miscarriages put them in their homes as a remembrance of their unborn child. (The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage.)

But Jizo is more than that. As The Monastery Store describes on their website: “Small, yet fierce as a mother protecting her child, Jizo Bodhisattva–Ksitigarbha, or “Earth Womb”–aids all those in the six worlds of existence who need relief from suffering.”

I hadn’t experienced a miscarriage, but I have had a rough year. When that package arrived in the mail, I’d been feeling lost, unsettled and uncertain of everything for awhile, on and off. My friend, so kindly, wanted to give me a little peace.

I put my Jizo on my bedside table, where she (he? I don’t know, but I like to think of her as a woman) watches over me and provides me comfort. I do feel a small sense of relief when I look over at the statue before I go to bed and wake up in the morning.

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How It Can Be Hard To Do The Work You Love

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I get stuck when it comes to buckling down and writing my scripts. I love writing characters and dialogue, and getting absorbed in another world. It’s meditation for me. But despite that, I haven’t been writing much at all lately. I’ve been outlining a new project, and while it’s technically work, it’s not the actual page writing that I love so much.

Why? I guess I’m just waiting for that super inspired feeling that often helps me produce my best work. I’ve associated that ‘high’ feeling with starting to write. And I’m at a place in my life where so much is going on that I just want to feel good lately. I’m all about the cozy, hygge life.

But I’ll never get the work done if I’m all about hygge! So, the thing is, I’ve got to up my writing game, which may mean being uncomfortable or suffering a little. And just the other day I read that the German word for passion is “leidenschaft.” And the non-literal translation means suffering – suffering for your passion.

This post explains it well:

When (not literally) translated, “Leidenschaft” means “passion,” meaning that the word in German carries a heavier load than its English counterpart. In English, you are always encouraged to follow your passion, as it will bring you the most happiness as opposed to following the more material, tangible, and fleeting things of life, such as status, money, or fame. Passion, in the long run, conveys a feeling of achievement and joy in the English language. However, in German, there seems to be a more realistic outlook to the word; if you are passionate about something, you will have to suffer to achieve whatever you are passionate about, akin to the English saying of “no pain, no gain.”

So raise a glass to suffering a little! In the name of art, of course.

 

One Reason Being In Your Thirties Can Feel So Lonely

I’m 35, and most of my oldest friends are married without kids or with kids and/or have successful careers, or simply are content being single with a forward moving career. Most of them are pretty settled in one way or another, feeling good and grateful for where they are in their lives. They know it’s damn tough and they’ve come a long ass way to be where they are. And their lives are certainly not without struggle, be it infertility, health issues, etc. But, they’re happy to have made inroads into whatever they set out to do. And that’s awesome. It’s really inspiring seeing your friends raise kids, embark on new, challenging career goals or start a business. I’m not jealous; I know we all have unique paths to follow.

Once there was a broader path we were all on. But now the path is narrowing and more lonely than ever. Here’s the thing I’ve been thinking about. I’ve been depressed lately, and I have been remembering that I felt this same combination of ‘lost and scared’ intermittently throughout high school and college – this bleak feeling of dissociation. But what ALWAYS made it better was having friends with whom I could relate. Because in high school and college, we all felt similarly. At least I think we did.

Some of my favorite moments of high school were spent sprawled in the aisles of Barnes & Noble (which some called Barnes & Nobles – which always made me feel silly and happy), with a stack of career books and an assortment of US Weeklies and random crap, talking about our futures and all the possibilities ahead. We were blank slates, eager and excited, and all the nervousness of uncertainty was mitigated by each other’s company. When you realize you’re not alone, a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders.

At 35, I don’t have lots of friends to sit with in B & N and kvetch about life and how uncertain everything seems. I have about 2 of those friends, and they’re back home in NYC. I’m grateful for them, because we can email and talk about life and how we feel (and sometimes I can’t even email them back because I am feeling too low). But still — the number of us who are uncertain and scared, keeps dwindling. I guess that’s good, right? That’s a phase we should be past, perhaps? But…

It can make you feel alone. To feel like everyone has got at least one anchor in their life at this point, and you don’t. It doesn’t mean I’m not grateful to be alive and striving but still.

Sometimes I wish I was back in high school, in those aisles of Barnes & Nobles, with my vanilla steamer and my best friend, uncertain but hopeful about where our lives would take us, but pretty damn confident it would be somewhere awesome.

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