Today my Spring Break ends, as all things eventually do. I didn’t do as much grading as I would have liked–I never do–but I feel well-rested and…serene? Content? Ready to return to teaching? I suppose this is all any Spring Break can hope to accomplish: a pause to rest and reset.

I did a little of everything I enjoy this Spring Break: I read and walked and spent time with J and the pets. I went to Tower Hill with a friend and to the Museum of Fine Arts on my own. I went to the Zen Center and realized (again) how helpful and productive I will be when I (eventually) retire and have more time to go to practice and teach meditation: all the good stuff that gets squeezed to the margins or entirely blotted out when I’m busy Making a Living.

This has been the puzzle–my own personal kong’an–my entire adult life: how do you find the time and energy for Living while you are Making a Living? I haven’t solved that puzzle, but I’m learning to live with it. I’m learning how to sit with the question, as we Zennies like to say.

During my early adulthood, my perpetual puzzle was reconciling Zen and Christianity–was I Christian, Buddhist, or what? After approximately a decade of resting and wrestling with that conundrum–the task of my twenties–I finally gave up trying to answer the question. Am I Christian or Buddhist or both? Somehow, I just am who I am, and the need to sort, categorize, or label fell away along the way.

The task of my thirties was my divorce: who am I and how will I survive in the world if I’m not the perfect wife of my youthful idealism? This, too, is a question that didn’t get solved as much as dissolved: after a while, you stop wondering why you didn’t fit into the box of your own expectations. Eventually, you throw out the box.

The task of my forties was re-marriage and re-entry. Just because one coat didn’t fit doesn’t mean you give up wearing coats. Marrying J meant moving back to Massachusetts, where I’d gone to graduate school before moving to New Hampshire. My grad school and first-marriage days were sustained by the hope of becoming tenured faculty somewhere, someday. In my twenties and thirties, I had hopes for the moon, and in my forties I realized I’d fallen into a different kind of career that still managed to pay the bills.

Halfway through my fifties, I’m reconciling Living and Making a Living: what Buddhists call Right Livelihood. This particular balancing act will be, I suspect, the task of a lifetime.