This weekend I made my annual pilgrimage to the lake to enjoy a fresh fish dinner, drink Mackie’s famous Orangade, and dunk my fries in their special fry sauce. Instead, I got caught up in a whirlwind of worries.
In the moment, with the sun shining in a clear blue sky,the lake calmly offering refreshment, and soaring seagulls, my meditation training came back to me in a snap. This moment is it. It’s all we’ve got.
To be present right here, right now, holding all of our fears and worries, all the while appreciating how fortunate we are to have what we do, now that my sweet peaches, is the art of living.
Holding hope and loss at the same time seems paradoxical, but it’s the essence of the human mystery. I don’t preach this from living a blessed life. Loss is not a stranger in my life. Loss is a ruthless teacher and a sneaky sonnuvabitch.
Anxiety is the residue that gets left over when loss finally packs its oversized bag and leaves.
So often we associate loss with death, and forget about all of the other losses; home, love, jobs, and hope.
Hope. Yah, that’s a tough one. Loss often packs a good one-two punch, with a kick to the groin – it always blesses us more than once in a very short period of time, leaving us feeling vulnerable, fearful, numb and hopeless.
With each loss we lose hope in the story of our lives; what we hope to do with our loved ones, how we hope to grow old and with whom or that old wounds may somehow heal with reconciliation.
As a young adult I suffered major losses. Journeying with someone I love as they experience new losses in the shadow of my own, I began to wonder whether it was easier as a young woman than it is now.
But it’s not about easier or more difficult. It’s about different. Different as in; as we age we process loss much differently in the lengthening shadow of our own mortality. With each loss, our perception is that time offers us less opportunity to recover. Perception is the key word here. Loss can cause despair, and on the other hand it can be used as an opportunity to start fresh, put new building blocks in place (think Lego – it was my favourite toy when I was a kid), and write a new story.
Within the period of a few months, loss has snuggled up in our home, poured itself a drink, put its stinky feet up on the coffee table, and helped itself to an unfair portion of our sanity. It’s like the dreaded overseas relative come to stay for an unknown period of time. To celebrate the arrival of our special guest, my anxiety dressed itself up, rolled out the red carpet and said, “Welcome, what can I get you? My sleep? A cozy blanket of pathetic weeping perhaps, or how about some home-cooked fear”?
Despite my anxiety, I am aware of my blessings; my child, my love, my friendships, my life as I know it.
As the Buddha at the beach reminded me, it’s not impossible to hold hope and fear. It’s best just to let them both gently go and appreciate the moments as they are.
Wishing you the presence to practice letting go, being present, and keeping love and hope alive in your heart.