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in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of life...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Matrix of the Practical - A Plumbing Story

No, these are not my new “prayer flags”, although I probably need to get some and string them around the house. These towels are a sign that I’ve been caught in the matrix of the practical the past 2 weeks. And it wasn’t pretty. :) And you thought I had disappeared into the Forest, living a contemplative life. Needless to say, I have not stepped over that threshold yet…

The story begins with a plumbing back up in the kitchen sink on the afternoon of Nov. 5th, a Saturday. Dear Hubby tried to ream out the pipes to no avail, which meant we were without a functioning sink until the plumber came that Monday. So I washed dishes in the shower. :) The plumber successfully reamed out the kitchen pipe that runs under the basement floor, but it took 4 times – as we stood there with visions of having to dig up the basement. There was a clump of roots attached to the end of his reamer. Oh-oh. THEN, he discovered a leak coming down the basement wall at the site of the kitchen drain pipe. Oh dear. Not being “financially stable” at this point (as the Cricket job ended as quickly as it began because certain crickets couldn’t harmonize with each other – chirp) we opted to not have the plumber fix that, as DH said that *he* could fix that. Wifey :) didn’t believe it, but what can one do but to humor DH, and stay out of the way… So for two days DH tackled the job of finding and repairing the leaky pipe.
The dishwasher stood in the middle of the kitchen floor for two days. DH found a crack in the main kitchen drain pipe, right at floor level. And of course the pipe was not a straight line down to the basement. There was a 3 foot section of pipe that had elbows and turns in it to navigate the foundation. He cut out that section and took it to the local HD store. The handy men there told him to use a certain type of plumber’s “glue” – a thick, black, sticky substance – t0 seal up the crack. It worked! I amazingly maintained equanimity most of the time, with a few moments here and there of – what if you can’t fix it! He assured me he could. Oh me of little faith.

Six days later the sewer drain in the basement backed up at 11pm on Sunday night. Photo not available – you wouldn’t want to see it anyway. During the night the furnace went out and we woke up cold. Great – one more thing. My husband said the two were not related. By now I am turning into Eeyore, the poor-me little donkey in Winnie-the-Pooh, with more oh-dears, oh-no’s and what ifs, and how are going to ppppppaaayyyyy for th-th-this... Brain went into stress mode – biologically. The old neural pathways kicked in and I started functioning on automatic mode, the body contracted into a hard ball of anxiety and numbness. I would have liked to have made a different choice here, but I was unable to turn into the laughing Buddha – to see that it was my mind that was contracting around the event, creating stories. DH reminded me that I had become trapped in “the matrix of the practical” – as he coined it – only focusing on the practical problems and not the bigger picture. I had become trapped by my own mental matrix, and sitting in Silence in “The Forest” was the furthest thing from my mind – because – my mind had become entangled. And somewhere in the mental matrix there is still a belief in a separate sense of self that still feels threatened by life’s happenings – blocking the flow of Life through my “pipes.”

So – to continue - furnace guy and plumber guy arrive late Monday morning – fortunately not together. Furnace guy fixes furnace. Thankfully it is under warranty. Plumber guy, not so lucky. This time he reams out the outside access to the main sewer line to the house and can’t find the problem. So he calls the manager plumber with the special fiberoptic camera that looks into pipes. But *he* could not come until Tues at 11am, which turned into Noon. Meantime – no flushing the toilets and no running the water. Campers we are not. Maybe I need to rethink this sojourn into the Forest.

Tuesday camera guy finds the problem: tree roots in a 25 foot section of the main line in five different places. (We have two huge Cottonwoods, and a Walnut tree just a few feet from the house whose roots have infringed on the line.) So he ordered a “Jetter;” a plumber’s version of the “big guns” – a rooter with a cone shaped tip that shoots out forceful streams of water that cut through the roots. “Jetter” guy arrived an hour and a half late. (As Eeyore woud say – “of course” :) But, within a half an hour we are root free and back in business. Ah – life as it is… Never a dull moment. :)

I’ve always thought the “Forest Life” – the life of a contemplative - would be “easier”. Maybe that’s just my fantasy. I’m sure The Forest has its practical problems as well. You can’t escape the matrix of the practical. It’s just life happening the way it does – she says after the fact. :)

Late in the evening, as I prepared for bed, I noticed how wonderfully silent and peaceful the house was after all the chaos. And then I realized that it wasn’t the house that had been chaotic, it was my mind. And it wasn’t the house that was silent, it was the Silence within me being noticed again. The Silence had been underneath the mental matrix all along. I just couldn’t access it because of my narrow focus on the practical problems… I couldn’t see the Forest for the deeply entangled roots… I think I need a “Jetter.” :)

And that's the end of the plumbing tale - hopefully...


You might find this article in Parabola interesting…


  1. oh no! eek! What a story! You know it reminds me a bit of something that happened when I took a feng shui course years ago. I started moving things around in the house. I think we had a plumbing event and an electrical event. So it makes me think energy is moving around your house! That's my 2 cents!

    And those towels do look like prayer flags! Much metta to you, Christine. Hope life is settling down to a dull roar. I expect you have a new appreciation for heat and plumbing :)

    Going off to check out the Parabola article

  2. Thanks ZDS ~ Well it sure is moving now! All obstacles have been removed and shorts reconnected :)

    A dull roar is good. Just call me Tigger - roar?

  3. bless the plumbers and the heat guys

  4. Hello Suz... Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment :) Yes, am definitely grateful that everything is back in working order again!

  5. Oh boy, what fun (not)!
    "...then I realized that it wasn’t the house that had been chaotic, it was my mind. And it wasn’t the house that was silent, it was the Silence within me being noticed again." Beautiful. This past week I realized something similar about stress, that it was in me and therefore under my control...should I choose to practice controlling it!

  6. OH! Brother!Dear Christine...have I ever been there! With the plumbing and the mental matrix (what a great name for it). When my former husband would say he would 'do the plumbing'...without one breath of the Matrix...I would whisk the wrench right out of his hand! No Way ;)It always took 200 hours longer and 5000 trips to the hardware store....with a few choice words in between. When I first met M. his first, romantic words to me were "Just so you know...I don't fix stuff." A man after my own heart.
    Perhaps a good sturdy tent and a few choice leaves are the way to go...wishing you a sweet, silent Thanksgiving with the Peace River permeating the matrix. xoxo ♥ -L.

  7. Thank you Uma ~ Yes, stress/anxiety is a long ingrained neural pathway in this brain. It's a very automatic biological/physiological response in this body-mind, so am looking at "re-training" the brain (a book called Buddha's Brain), creating different neural pathways as those old grooves are pretty deep - since childhood. So the *idea* of being "in control" of the anxiety is a foreign concept right now. It's not like I'm going to beat it down and make it behave :) Right now just becoming more *aware* of how it works in this body-mind and when the body-mind goes into react mode, and, as they do in Buddhism, being willing to sit with it, embrace it like an orphaned child seems to help when I'm not in the middle of a crisis. :) And always - remembering and turning towards our Natural State of Being inwardly.


  8. Thank you Leslie! Glad to hear you can relate :) Yes, "handyman" he is not - but will have to say he did a *great* job! Believe me, "The Forest" is calling! :) Getting my tent ready - LOL. Oh if only I could! Lots of love and peaceful TG.

  9. Hm, it's been a while but I seem to remember something similar happening here some time ago when I rearranged the kitchen and dinign room. Thank goodness for good plumbers and electricians who show up promptly when called. I haven't rearranged the place since, having decided that redecorating can be a hazardous undertaking

    I rather like the towel arrangement on the clothesline too, and they do look like prayer flags.

  10. Cate ~ Oh gosh, I can't even imagine redecorating, if this it what it entails! :)

    Yes, our make-shift clothesline to accommodate all those wet towels! Which has since been taken down - thankfully... I'd rather have the real "prayer flags" :)

  11. Oh, Eeyore,...Christine, I mean...;o) That is tale. I laugh and cry with you. Could this go into Carole's can of pain post from last week?! LOL...I admire how, in the end, you acknowledge the chaotic mind more than the chaotic world around you and make the gentle shift. For all you've been through though, you deserve a vacation with Winnie-the-Pooh and pals for some fun & relaxation...haha... I LOVE, love, love your towel prayer flags...be still my heart. ;o) Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving week, my friend ((HUGS))

  12. Tracy ~ Oh definitely, this would fit into that big can of pain at ZenDotStudio's post! :) Actually I bought a big can myself :) Yeah, at the end of all of it there was was that wonderful insight - even during the experience, but just couldn't turn it off - the brain that is. And so now I'm working on those deeply ingrained neural pathways. Am definitely ready for the 100 Acre Woods with Pooh and friends :) Actually, you remind me of Pooh Bear! :)

    Do they celebrate Thanksgiving in Norway?


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