“Since death is certain, but the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?” Pema Chodron
I am always out of control. Yet I cling to the illusion of a life that I can delineate. I set intentions. I make plans. And then life happens.
My younger daughter was seriously ill in the hospital after a few critical days of pneumonia and septic shock. She’s better now, and I can breathe.
And I have a reminder that I do not maintain order in my life although I am the beneficiary of it at times. I can plan, I can organize, I can get involved in daily routines that feel vitally important. I can consider myself indispensable and worry about everything from keeping appointments to putting healthy meals on the table.
Poof…it all disappears as I sit for hours in a hospital chair, mindless of what was compelling a few hours ago.
I no longer care if the leftover chicken rots and the clothes heap up in the laundry room. I skip my morning routines to make sure my daughter has a healthy smoothie when she wakes in the morning. My hair begins to stand on end and I look down to discover a spot on my jacket that a week before would have embarrassed me. Now I idly examine it, wondering what and when without much interest. Mirrors are not a reality for the moment.
It is another reminder to seek what is important in my life. Another reason to drop form and look for substance. A recognition that uncertainty is a way to practice acceptance. And that acceptance is letting go of control.
“… happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself…” Viktor E. Frankl
This sounds like a core value and truth to me. The pursuit of happiness takes me down blind alleys of disappointment.
I have long known myself to be a purpose-driven person. I seek meaningful thought or action every day of my life. This brings me hours of what I would call contentment and mements of joy. That is happiness enough for me.
I can tell myself that my means escapism, numbing, resistance and avoidance are ways of taking me from my real life in an attempt to make myself happy. I know better, even as I am in such states.
And so I go back to my equation: meaning = happiness.
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘Thank You’, that would suffice.” Tolle
My daughter has been deathly ill in the last few days since she returned from an extended trip in India.
I am grateful…
That her husband (with my strong support) demanded that she visit the doctor.
That she made it home before she collapsed. (She did, however, faint on the return flight.) But, had she been critical in India, I might not have been able to reach my virtual friends there in time to find the path to the best care possible. And we, her family, would not have been with her in this crucial time to help with decisions and offer encouragement.
That she has personal friends who are physicians and that they somehow (I don’t yet know how) heard of her collapse and appeared in emergency room to help manage the care that may well have saved her life.
That her brother, who was with her in India and was also becoming ill on his return, is suffering only with a normal flu and is doing fine.
That she has stepped away from the precipice and will soon be out of the woods on her slow road to recovery.
How could I not be grateful that we are able to reach out and hold her in our arms and whisper words in her ears.