Saying Goodbye, Part 11: Earthquakes and Landscapes

I awoke on Wednesday to my first day home without my father.

I had spent the greater part of February in his home 3-hours away, in an unexpected whirlwind of emotional chaos, intense vulnerability, and the eventual release of him as I watched him being taken away for cremation.

I know enough to not expect that I’d return home to life as I knew it. “Now back to your regularly scheduled program” does not apply here.

I know that my life is now altered. Yes, everyday, our lives change. Each day is unlike the next. But this is different. There are these life-altering events that completely changes the landscape. Subtle shifts become earthquakes and aftershocks.

Upon waking, I take it slow. “What’s next?” in every moment. I try some “old life” on by checking e-mail (that felt okay, let’s try…) listening to a recorded call from a training I’m in (yeah, not quite feeing it. Let’s try…) suddenly it’s too much. My heart aches and I feel my energy in my belly. I remember a song that feels the way I feel now.

I listen to “Winter” by Tori Amos on repeat and break down sobbing just as I need to. Every part of me vibrating in grief. Why does life seem so stupid. All the things that took up space in my life seem to riduclous. I should have spent more time with him. Should have, should have, should have….

Change and Agency

I am not a big fan of New Year’s Eve celebrations. I rarely have plans and the holiday just exacerbates my feelings of loneliness. Despite the significant growth I’ve experienced in 2012, I’m feeling pretty blue today. I have no desire to make resolutions, or goals, or see this day 1 as an opportunity for a new start.

I suppose after last year, I can’t help but feel like no matter what I intend, life will do what it will. I believe in being flexible to life’s ever changing circumstances, but I have yet to understand where I come into place with the whole thing? Do I ever have a say in what I want if life is going to constantly change anyway?

Bueller? Bueller?

Esalen Meditation Retreat, Part 3 – Impermanence

Late into day two of the retreat, the sun broke through the rain storm and we were given the opportunity to enjoy the sunset. I stood on the patio and watched the sun quickly drop below the ocean horizon. As it did so I felt no anxiety towards how fast this moment was ending. Instead I felt a calm, and was able to just enjoy the experience. “Goodbye for now.” I thought. “See you soon.”

The next morning I awoke early. I am typically an early riser, so a 5:30 a.m. walk down to the tubs wasn’t too unusual for me. When I arrived at the tubs it was still dark out and there was no one there. I disrobed and sat in the hot spring sulfur tub that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. I was immediately filled with so much gratitude for the experiences I had at Esalen. The conversations, the moments alone, the tubs, the dharma talks, and the meditations were all so intertwined for me. In moments where I felt attachment I practiced non-attachments and simply tried to observe. I thought of my mother and brothers who have passed on and cried simply because I miss them. In doing this, I somehow began to prepare myself for the upcoming loss of being here, and returning to my “regular” life.

How do you prepare for an ending? Well, like the sunset just a few hours before, I chose to just be in that moment, and reminded myself that all is well. I sat and watched the sky lighten, and just like that, I realized that this is how it is.

Change is ever so gradual that it’s easy to miss. It does not matter if you are paying attention or not, change happens. The whole retreat was filled with the validation that, although things feel distressful at times, I have, in fact, changed. I am more patient with myself, and I give myself more loving kindness than before. I can appreciate a moment, and not be attached. I am more proactive and slightly less reactive. I speak on my own behalf and take more risks. Yes, there are still enough old patterns in me to drag me down, but there has been an emergence of a kinder self in me.

Just as the sun set the day before, it arose, without question or worry. Mindfully observing this natural cyclical pattern of darkness and light gave me great comfort. It was evidence to me that this is how life is, and that I just need to let go of trying to be in control of making my life light all the time and keeping the darkness at bay.

Knock it Down

World Leader Pretend

(Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe)

I sit at my table and wage war on myself
It seems like it’s all, it’s all for nothing
I know the barricades, and
I know the mortar in the wall breaks
I recognize the weapons, I used them well

This is my mistake. Let me make it good
I raised the wall and I will be the one to knock it down

I’ve a rich understanding of my finest defenses
I proclaim that claims are left unstated,
I demand a rematch
I decree a stalemate
I divine my deeper motives
I recognize the weapons
I’ve practiced them well. I fitted them myself

It’s amazing what devices you can sympathize, empathize
This is my mistake. Let me make it good
I raised the wall and I will be the one to knock it down

Reach out for me and hold me tight. Hold that memory
Let my machine talk to me, let my machine talk to me

This is my world
And I am world leader pretend
This is my life
And this is my time
I have been given the freedom
To do as I see fit
It’s high time I’ve razed the walls
That I’ve constructed

You fill in the mortar. You fill in the harmony
You fill in the mortar. I raised the wall
And I’m the only one
I will be the one to knock it down

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