28 January 2008

Attaining Minivana

OK, so those of you familiar with Buddhism know that the ultimate goal was Nirvana, which was the supreme state of peace of the mind. You probably also know about the Eightfold Path, which was a guide to the path to Nirvana. You achieve the eight steps, you achieve the highest form of peace and enlightenment possible.

I've obviously condensed this all, of course.

OK - so what does this have to do with anything? In my own life, I feel that I am well on my way to an enlightenment of my own. For the last month and a half, we have gone through the process of preparing for the purchase a minivan (I know, three kids and we haven't joined The Club yet - scandalous!).

This weekend, however, I feel we will finally achieve the state of supreme enlightenment known as "Minivana."

Let me describe my journey for you. I will present the Eightfold Path and how it has been achieved in my house.

1. Right View: To see and understand things for what they really are

Minivana: My husband and I have come to see and understand that our four-door Extended Crew Cab Chevy truck is not enough anymore. Our kids don't have enough room to spread out and constantly are in each other's physical space.

2. Right Intention: A commitment to improvement

Minivana: Over Christmas break, we committed to making a new minivan purchase, and buying it in the near future. It's no longer an idea, it's on its way to becoming reality.

3. Right Speech: Using words genuinely, kindly, and effectively

Minivana: We did a follow-up email to the minivan salesguy after we'd visited the lot one weekend, asking plenty of good, effective questions. We did this in a kind, respectful manner as well.

4. Right Action: Wholesome actions lead to sound states of mind

Minivana: Brent spent a week after the salesguy emailed us back crunching numbers and poring over financial records to find out when would be the best time to buy.

5. Right Livelihood: Wealth is gained in a healthy, legal, and peaceful

Minivana: Brent is a software engineer and I am a high school English teacher. Both are very peaceful professions.

6. Right Effort: Focusing the right kind of energy, making the right kind of effort

Minivana: We are exercising a fair amount of restraint, which is uncommon for us. Usually, if we want to do something, we'll just do it. However, this time around, we are truly making a great effort to not rush into the decision.

7. Right Mindfulness: An ability to conceptualize the "big picture"

Minivana: Because of our research, we are picking minivan models now based on future needs. Growing kids = more legroom = buy the bigger minivan now, etc, etc, as opposed to just getting something now that we'll be dissatisfied with later. This is not just an impetuous, "now" purchase, but one for the future as well.

8. Right Concentration: All mental energies are directed and focused on an object.

Minivana: This is where we are now. Brent and I will be focusing all of our energy on this one task; we are mentally, physically, and economically preparing for this event. For example, Brent entirely cleaned out the car we plan on trading in. This shows extreme concentration and foresighted preparation - a focus on making this one event happen.

Say it with me now...Ohhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmm.