Deputy Editor Andrea Miller’s editorial introduction for the September 2011 issue of Lion’s Roar.
I was an only child, and on Saturday mornings I’d watch cartoons all by myself while my mother slept in. Sometimes, when the cartoons dragged on, I would sneak into the kitchen for a snack. I’d climb on top of the counter and rummage around in the baking supplies. I’d put peanut butter into a bowl and smother it with thick corn syrup, stirring in chocolate chips, sprinkles, and brown sugar. Then I’d park myself in front of The Smurfs and relish each spoonful.
All this is to say that I do know saccharine and I hope that what I’m about to tell you doesn’t strike you that way, but if it does, please bear with me: Under the cocktail of a Mexican sunset, my husband, Adán, and I had our first kiss on August 9, 2006. So on the ninth of every month, we celebrate. Season in and season out, to this day.
Our celebration almost always includes dinner at a restaurant, but the rest of the day is ordinary—at least on the face of it—because we do regular things. If the ninth falls on a weekday, we might make smoothies and eggs for breakfast, then drive to work. If the ninth falls on a weekend, we might walk in the park, buy groceries, do laundry, or go to a yoga class. The flavor of the day, however, is never usual.
On the ninth, the first thing we say to each when we wake up is “Feliz día especial,” or “Happy special day.” On the ninth, we’re very careful with each other; we’re careful to remember how lucky we are to be together and to not bicker over stupid things, like being five minutes late or leaving a wet towel on the bed. On the ninth, we listen more, kiss more, hold hands more.
Essentially, the ninth of the month is our day of mindfulness. When we look at our lives clearly, we see that every day is a special day, but because we’re not always paying attention, non-ninth days slide by, seemingly without specialness. I really like that Adán and I share the ninth, but I’d like to develop more awareness for the rest of each month, and the teachings in this issue are helping me on that path.
“Let Me Count the Ways” by John Tarrant is a celebration of love. “Meeting and marrying,” he writes, “we are ten feet off the ground, our hearts beat fast; the moment can’t find a way to end. That’s really how life is when we are not pouring it into little containers.” But, continues Tarrant, “Love is not an equanimity practice; it doesn’t filter your responses or fit them to a preset level.”
For a practical guide to working with relationships, there is Susan Piver’s “Six Ways to Make It Work.” The key, according to her, is the six paramitas, or transcendent perfections: generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and wisdom. In “When You Greet Me, I Bow,” Norman Fischer expands on how couples can benefit from the tools of spiritual practice. Meditating together enriches a relationship, but the wider view, he says, is that there is no spiritual practice greater than just being alive with others.
“Waking Up Alone,” by Karen Maezen Miller, is a teaching on how we can grow through heartbreak. It’s also a reminder of what it is that enables some couples to make it through the long haul. “Love that lasts,” she says, “allows the love story to end. It isn’t laden with romantic fantasies or regret.”
Carolyn Rose Gimian’s “The Buddha in the Mirror” is about self-love—being unconditional friends to ourselves—and how that is the foundation for loving others. Finally, Judy Lief’s teaching, “Biggest Love,” offers insight on how we can expand the love we have for the people closest to us so that it embraces everyone, even people we don’t know, even people we find difficult.
What I like about the teachings in this issue is that although they are all about love and very celebratory, they aren’t too sugary sweet—not at all like that concoction I made as a kid. These teachings have the grit of real life in them—the acknowledgement that relationships are often work and sometimes painful. If you appreciate that quality, too, you may also like to read Right Here With You. It’s an anthology I edited for Shambhala Publications about bringing mindful awareness into relationships, and it offers kitchen-sink wisdom from some of the teachers in this issue, as well as from Thich Nhat Hanh, Tara Brach, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Jane Hamilton, and more.
Right Here With You is being released on a very special day. You guessed it — August ninth. The same day Adán and I will be celebrating exactly five years of being together.