I will never make a very good Buddhist. I like Target way too much. And TV. And caffeine. Still, from time to time I turn to one Buddhist teaching or another, fascinated by the focus, the clarity, and the equanimity. If only I could be that clear, that calm, I think with longing. Yeah, not very Buddhist.
But once in a while, I experience a Buddhist moment in which everything slows down and I am transported beyond my usual hooks and wandering thoughts. Most recently, one of these events occurred after I bought some new underwear.
Oh, just bear with me. There is a valuable lesson in here—maybe even a couple.
Nearly every day in our house begins with me asking Kim, “Do I have any panty lines?” Every time I ask, she dutifully looks to see whether or not I’m going to embarrass myself leaving the house. So much can go wrong with a noticeable seam or a few extra pounds in that mysterious space between the inside of my pant-leg and the outside world. And I have spent a small fortune trying to find a bridge that spans the chasm between comfort and style.
What I have learned over the years and my many, many purchases is THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SEAMLESS UNDERWEAR. It’s pure myth. But even knowing this fact, I have persisted in my futile shopping and endless obsessing.
If we don’t have big things to worry about, it seems assured that our minds will find little things to hook us. And no sooner will I find the perfect “no-show” solution than I discover I might as well be wearing a hair-shirt. Spiritual lessons in a wedgy, go figure.
But I digress.
After throwing out yet another pair of expensive and uncomfortable underwear, I finally decided to try something different. Erring on the side of comfort (perhaps also not very Buddhist, but even devout Buddhists, I have concluded, must wear something), I bought a pack of super-soft cotton undies.
While heading to lunch during a particularly aggravating day at work—and half-way through the first test of my recent purchase—a sudden realization jolted me out of my frustration: my underwear was so incredibly comfortable. For a brief moment, time suspended, and I and the soft cotton were one. I grinned at the thought. Then I wound my way through the cafeteria, caught up in and fully appreciating the present moment while silently giggling at my own ridiculousness.
Later I reflected on how underwear is something we really only experience in the present. Think about it. You don’t lament that thong you thought was a good idea three years ago—laugh about it maybe, but on the whole it’s not traumatizing you today. Similarly, we don’t normally cling to a pair that served us well all those years ago. And if it’s actually comfortable while we’re wearing it, it’s not something that even crosses our minds.
So on a day where I was feeling very glum, the fact that a plain old pair of cotton underwear could snap me out of my funk felt miraculous. Truthfully, I have no idea whether this underwear is seamless or not. But more importantly, I no longer care.