Sunday, September 15, 2013

Life Hacks, and Quinoa Avocado Salad

"Do you know what my best secret power is?" my father-in-law asked me, relaxing into the pillows on our couch.  He had driven five hours from New Hampshire the night before to help me corral and chauffeur children to school and day care while S. was away on business and I attended some evening programs for work.  I had been giving him directions for the evening, finding menus and money for pizza, discussing diaper changes, and reviewing the arrival of my son's bus.

"No," I said. "What's your best secret power?"

"That I know it just doesn't matter."  He gave me a satisfied smile.  "Whatever happens, I can handle it.  And in the end, it comes out fine."

I nodded, and grinned sideways at my son, who was still tying his first sneaker, three minutes after he'd started the process.  I was trying to get out the door at get to work, and it was taking all of my willpower not to grab the shoelaces away and tie them myself.  "Grandpa goes with the flow."

My father-in-law is not a Buddhist, but if I were going to conjure a contemporary Buddhist, he fits the bill.  He thinks nothing of picking up and driving to Florida on a whim to go kayaking.  He makes scores of plans, because even he recognizes that you can't do very much in life with no purpose at all, but then changes them when it becomes obvious that they won't work, for whatever reason.  He is completely unattached to the consequences of his actions, though he has, without a doubt, excellent intentions.

This is precisely where Buddhism stymies me.  The non-attachment to consequences.  Because if you're trying to do something positive, aren't you going to be a little frustrated when things don't work out?  How are you supposed to aim for good, but then simply decide that it doesn't matter?  That you've set things in motion, and that they will run their course?  It would be like a doctor prescribing medicine to a patient, and then feeling content when the patient doesn't get well.  If my father-in-law's secret power is that he can find it in himself not to care, my greatest limitation is that I care entirely too much.

It doesn't help that my secret power is organizing things to run like the Deutsche Bahn of old, before it started to lose its reputation for perfection and punctuality.

Then again, I guess sometimes you just have to approach life like a salad.  You start out with a bunch of high-quality ingredients, and you throw them together, with some sense that you're going to end up with something edible, even if it wasn't entirely what you intended in the first place.  Even I know that you can't save every patient.  Or win every tournament.  And if we couldn't accept that, at some level, we would suffer from perpetual paralysis.  Like yoga, it takes practice.  And my father-in-law has been practicing for a long time.

What's your secret power?

Avocado and Quinoa Salad

12 oz. red quinoa, cooked and chilled
12 oz. leftover cooked corn

1 c. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 c. green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
1 c. tomatoes, 1/4-inch dice
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, diced

1/4 c. lime juice
2 T. olive oil
1 T. champagne vinegar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

In a large bowl, mix together cooked quinoa, corn, cilantro, green onions, and tomatoes. Gently fold in avocados.

Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, and vinegar, and mix until well-combined. Add dressing to the salad, and mix gently.  

Season with salt and pepper; serve.
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  1. Mine is reading captcha codes. Though maybe something a bit more far-reaching would be better.

  2. This is my biggest hurdle with Buddhism at well. I know I've written about it on my blog a number of times. I certainly haven't figured it out myself but I'm working on it constantly.

    I don't know I'd I have a super power, probably staying focused on a project despite having other things that vie for my attention. Of course that means those other things don't get done, and sometimes they are important and it's not a great thing that I'm neglecting them. But I do generally get my big projects done, if I'm inspired to do them.

  3. I had a Buddhist nanny for little M for about 9 months. She was the absolutely perfect person to hang out with a tiny infant, as she would put M in the moby wrap and then sit silently holding her for hours and hours. It was amazing. And she did this sometimes while I slept in the next room. I deeply admired her patience and inability to be frazzled by things like having only 3 minutes to run and catch the bus.

    She told me once about a time when this little boy she took care of really really wanted to go to the petting zoo. Since she didn't drive, they took the bus there, but the schedule and run was all different from what she remembered and they ended up having to walk a really long way (her carrying him much of the time). While the story was mostly about how great this petting zoo is, I made a mental note that I wasn't so keen on the idea of my kid being in that situation...

  4. I want to be more like your father in law. I have moments where I can set things into action and trust and let go of the outcome, but there are these areas of my life, the "dark corners," where nothing seems more difficult. I always get stumped in those places I'm most attached. Love the salad, by the way!

  5. I would love to hang out with your FIL and marinate in his knowing that it all comes out fine.

    I am much like you. But time and seeing things come out fine (and widening my definition of "fine") are molding me toward him.

    My superpower is attracting amazing women friends.

    Yum on the recipe, as always!

  6. I'm curious to know if your father-in-law has always been like this, or if there was something that happened that made this mentality click. I *wish* I had a little more of this in me, although I have come to the conclusion over the past 2 years that yes, whatever happens, I can handle it.

    Maybe that's my secret superpower: surviving.

    Can't wait to try the recipe!

  7. "My greatest limitation is that I care entirely too much."

    Me too!

    And I love Erin's question and am curious to know the answer.

    Like Lori, I would love to hang w/ your FIL and try to absorb some of his attitude about life.

    I try to go with the flow, but it is a struggle for me. I have always had difficulty with expectations and so many people and events in my life not living up to them. I am not sure where that comes from or how to change it. But I am forever working on it and myself.

    As for my superpower... I am most of my loved ones biggest fan! They know they can count on me to support and cheer for them. People often call me with good news, because they know I will be genuinely excited for them and forthcoming with my enthusiasm!

    Great post, questions and discussion! I miss you! I am behind in my reading and commenting and returning to your blog to catch up has felt like being back with you at BlogHer... It feels good to read your words and get my J fix! xoxo


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