Last week Gabriel celebrated his 18th birthday; in a month he graduates from high school. This is an exciting time, and also a nostalgic time for me!
I remember so clearly the day he was born—it was the day after his due date, almost 90 degrees in New York City, and I was so ready to meet that little person!
I remember Gabriel’s second birthday party when his favorite color was orange and I made him an orange cake; his tenth birthday party when a group of friends slept over on our living room floor; and his thirteenth birthday party when we went to a hut in the white mountains.
Time is so remarkable.
And mother/parent love is so strange, because our children change so much faster than we do: I see the baby and the child in Gabriel now at the same time that I miss the baby and child that was—I will never hold Gabriel (who is now almost 6 feet) in my arms the way I did when he was one or two or three; so there is loss. And these transitions bring that up for me.
And while my Buddhist and mindfulness meditation practices help me stay present and also to put all these shifts in perspective—everything is impermanent—I’m also grateful to be able to experience the fullness of human experience even with the real pains that I experience. Yes, impermanence and attachment are hard, but I wouldn’t want to give them up.
But, I wouldn’t want to give up all of that pain either because it’s a sign to me of how deeply I value the things I care for; and the very way in which I feel just slightly out of alignment with time makes me wonder all the more at the miracle of the world.
No mud no lotus, as Thich Nhat Hanh says, even in the best of times. The pain and the love inter-are. If I didn’t love, I wouldn’t feel the pain.
This helps me also when things aren’t going traditionally “well.” I mourn violence or loss because I care. And while not caring might make me feel less pain, it helps me, instead, to see that the pain itself can be a sign of love, and I wouldn’t want to give up or hide from love.
My meditation practice helps me (even if it’s not always easy!) be present for it all.
Here are some questions that I sometimes ask myself that I find helpful. You might want to ask yourself them:
*) Is there pain even in the things that are going well in your life? Can you see them as part of the mud that grows the lotus?
*) And similarly, if things aren’t going “traditionally” well in your life, can you see that part of the pain comes from the fact that you love and care for things?
I’m so grateful to my children that I can be a mother. And I’m so grateful for my mindfulness practice that I can be more present with what is.
As always, please pass this on to any friends who might be interested and
Keep reading…below one of my favorite poems about the passage of time!
Spring and Fall
Spring and Fall by Gerard Manley Hopkins
to a young child
Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.