Practice Makes Presence
I could drain this pen with my list of things that ought to be. Making a list like this makes me feel like the course of things in the universe is up to me. It’s not. I like to pretend otherwise, and when I do, that is when the trouble begins.
Tomorrow, my mother will lose her eye. That isn’t how it ought to be. She has had trouble with the eye for a few years. When she called to tell me the news she was strong and spoke clearly only breaking down to admit how broken hearted she is about it all. The doctors have done all they can and there is nothing left for them to do. I could only answer her with “I love you” and a reminder that we are not our bodies.
At moments over the last few days, I close one eye to gauge how she will see, and maybe understand how she will feel. I also tell myself fifty/fifty is a good proposition and maybe it won’t be so bad. I know that is up to her and I also know she’s made the best with lesser odds to get this far.
My recent experience has taught me that to move forward I have to renounce the way things ought to be and accept reality just as it is. Any clinging to my demands of fairness is like a swimmer violently thrashing to push back the incoming tide. The tide is coming anyway, and it will rise, fall, and pass on. This renunciation only takes a pause and the willingness to practice mindful acceptance.
This pause is between hiding and reactivity, between denial and being overwhelmed. This sounds to me like the idea of meekness in the Beatitudes or the “middle way” in Buddhism. This pause makes space between the mind, the body, and the circumstances we face. Today that space needs to be filled fearless presence. Mothers are more than just flesh and blood, you don’t need eyes to see that, you just need love and courage to sit with our circumstance.
*Illustrating this point, I wrote this in a public space where the AC repairman came in, talking on his phone, and walked by me while never acknowledging the guy in the corner who was crying while typing this. Who needs perfect sight to see what is important?