Change is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Bumper sticker shtik? Sure. Deep awareness grounded in experience? Certainly. My point is that reciting platitudes is one thing. Living from the truth they espouse is often quite another.
For example, I’ve been feeling kind of down lately. I’ve ascribed this feeling variously to the change in seasons, short days, traveling a lot, not being grounded and so forth. As I talk about at some length in Drunk with Wonder, there exists the “isness’ of a situation, let’s say the fact that the sun is setting a bit before 5 pm. There isn’t much I can do about that, expect perhaps to pack up and head south, way, way south, where the days are still getting longer rather than shorter and summer is coming on.
The other thing I can do is become present in the moment, particularly around my feelings; how I am with the “isness.” When I do that, I notice how much grief I’m feeling. Change is in the air, and with change comes loss. It turns out that loss is an inevitable part of change, that to grow into a more expansive perspective requires that we set aside our old stories of who we thought we were.
And so, in becoming present, at least hesitantly, to the moment, to my grief, my experience of depression immediately shifts. When I allow the “isness” to be, I become more relaxed.
My father has been dead for almost a year now. He loved the fall, the colors, the smell of burning leaves, carving a pumpkin. Or so I remember. On the tree farm we owned we loved to sit by the remains of a fire we had run as the color drained out of the sky. The leaves on the black oaks had turned yellow and dusky orange, carpeting the ground and festooning the forest with autumn splendor.
I so loved those times. A part of me knew then that it would not last, and that it was important to treasure those moments with my Dad. And I did. Until I become present, really present, I don’t realize how much I have withdrawn. I guess I thought this was just about autumn, but it’s more than that. It’s been eight years since we sold the farm and moved away, probably nine years since we ran a fire together. I miss those times with him so much!!! And grief comes pouring down like the first cleansing rains of autumn.
My family will be making a pilgrimage to this land we loved so much just after Christmas, so that we may spread his ashes by the stream. We have many wonderful memories of Christmas there on the farm. I treasure these memories deeply.
I had been resisting these feelings; now I’m embracing them. We’ll see where we go from here. There is more to explore. With the book finished, I’ve been feeling at loose ends. The marketing and such are not remotely as interesting or fulfilling. And with Challenge Day recently on Oprah, my place with that organization is sure to change. I have been letting go of that for some time, realizing that the wonderful, magic community I was privileged to be part of has already grown and transformed, as I knew it would have to do so that it’s promise and potential could be fulfilled.
I’m left wondering whether I will have another opportunity to experience something so magical again in this lifetime. I know I should feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to play with Challenge Day the way I have. And I do, of course. It’s just that, in the midst of all the excitement about Oprah, I’m also feeling a sense of loss for the way things were.
Yet I must feel this grief, let it wash over me like a tsunami and see on what distant shore I might wash up, a stranger in a strange land, becoming someone who I do not know. For now, the grief and sense of loss need to consume who I thought I was, leaving only the unity of “I am” to rest in peace.