As you move through your busy day, your busy life, everything a blur, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, all running into each other, time passing, losing time, wondering where the time has gone, please, please, please, remember to be happy.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
I am taking a two-week break from blogging in order to focus on completing a project with a pending deadline. This includes not reading your lovely posts, which I always enjoy, but which can sometimes take my attention away (happily, mind you) from other things for hours. It will be hard to resist not taking a peek, but I am going to force myself to refrain. Please have a lovely couple of weeks and I’ll catch up with you soon.
Love and Peace,
One of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen is that of Lady Liberty from the ferry that transports passengers from New York City’s Battery Park to Liberty and Ellis Islands. This is the place where my great-grandparents and my paternal grandfather came to the U.S. in the early 1900s from Europe, immigrants in search of opportunity. Some of their names are engraved on the wall at Ellis Island. I wish I could talk to them now, ask how it felt when first they laid eyes on Lady Liberty after a long journey across the Atlantic. Were they fearful? Hopeful? Relieved? Homesick? Did they cry, too, when they saw her?
“She was beautifully
Out of place.
Sometimes I believe
She intended to be.
Like the moon during the day.”
“No weeping, child. You’ll miss me and you’ll be sad for a while, but there’s no tragedy in the death of an old woman. It’s the way of things.”
~ Granny Cordeilla from Music of the Distant Stars, by Alys Clare
I came across this passage while reading on the day my grandmother died. It made me both smile and cry because it’s exactly what I needed to hear. It is so-called “coincidences” like this that convince me there is a higher power. Sometimes we need to tap into it and sometimes, as in this case, it taps into us.
My 93 year old grandmother was placed on hospice care this week. Her daughters and grandchildren are rallying around her, trying to provide her, and ourselves, with comfort during her final days. She has been blessed with a long, healthy life, with a patient, steady husband of over 60 years, who predeceased her, with four daughters who love her, and with a bevy of grandchildren and great-grandchildren who think she’s a hoot.
Watching her live out her last days, I am reminded of what a blessing it is to grow old. I think of the people I have known who passed too soon. Maybe it was due to hard living or a genetic condition. Maybe it was through an accident or unexpected illness. Maybe it was through violence or suicide.
We owe it to them not to spend too much time lamenting our gray hairs, wrinkles, sags, aches, pains, and memory lapses. We owe it to them to be grateful to be alive, and to make the best we can of our lives, whatever that might look like for each of us. We owe it to them to take good care of our health and well-being. We owe it to them to nurture and value our relationships with the people who truly matter most in our lives, and to whom we matter most.
As my last living grandparent lays dying, I feel grateful to have known not just her, but all of my grandparents, and three of my great-grandparents – one of the benefits of having been born to 18 year old parents. As the end of an era draws near, I carry with me into the future the memories, stories, and words of wisdom they have shared. As my grandmother lays dying, I am reminded of how much I want to live a long, healthy, happy life, and to be surrounded by people I love, who love me back, when I lay dying.
It is up to us to lay the foundation that leads to this circle of love. Some of the questions I ask myself when faced with a decision about what is most important are: Will this matter when I’m on my death bed? Will this person be by my side when I’m on my deathbed, if he or she is still alive? Will I regret this when I’m on my deathbed? The answers always guide me to what matters most.
May we always remember who and what matters most. May we value our selves and each other well into old age. May we be kind and compassionate to our elders. And may we always be young at heart.
One of my Facebook friends posted this quote the other day. I’m sure she meant it as inspiration, but it struck me as a little holier than thou and judgmental. Seriously, we and we alone have sole control over EVERYTHING in our lives? Nothing is that simple.
While I agree that our choices greatly impact our lives, I question how much control we have over the place from which we make those choices. For instance, can we really compare the choices of a person who grew up in a safe, stable, loving household to one who was the victim of chronic abuse? I don’t think so.
So many things happen in life that are out of our control, that impact our psyches in ways we don’t understand, which in turn influence our choices, for better or worse. Our life experiences, from the moment we are born, our earliest role models, trauma, unconditional love, exposure to violence, exposure to art and culture, travel, isolation, quality and level of education, and so many other things impact our choices. Very often they do so unconsciously.
I’m hardly an expert in psychology, but I’ve lived long enough, and made enough bad choices – along with many good ones – to know that not EVERYTHING in my life is a reflection of them. Sometimes, stuff happens. Sometimes, other people make choices that impact our lives. Sometimes, we are faced with a choice we didn’t ask for and wish we didn’t have to make (I’m thinking of the recent American presidential election here). Sometimes, in good faith, we choose wrongly and don’t realize it until it’s too late.
As adults, we owe it to ourselves, when our lives aren’t going well, to engage in self-reflection (and maybe a little therapy) to get to the root of why, and our role in it. But when all else fails, and you’re left reeling from a bad choice, take heart from one of my new favorite quotes: