This month – and spilling into early July – marks a couple of large milestones.
Written on June 5th, 2018:
On my fourteenth birthday, I got my nose pierced on South Street in Philly. It was the summer before I entered high school and I regarded the piercing as a symbol of my coming of age. I’m now a month away from turning 39-years-old.
This morning, standing in front of the bathroom mirror, I took out my nose ring to clean it, just as I’ve done a million times before. Only, today something was different. I decided not to reinstate it back where it belonged. I’ve not spent a whole day without a stud in my left nostril in one month shy of 25 years. I don’t even see the piercing for the most part anymore when I look at myself. It has simply melded into my facial composition, becoming just as much a part of my appearance as my acne scars and eyebrows.
Written on June 8th, 2018:
This morning, as I ran a towel over my face after showering, I instinctively made the allowance for my nose piercing, arching the towel around the left side of my nose, as as not to rip the earring out.
Then I remembered. There was no nose ring to make such necessary accommodations for anymore.
I took it out – and left it out – 3 mornings ago.
As an update: the nose ring is still out.
I’ve been investing intentional practice around the fact that my stepson is growing older and will soon be “out there,” left to his own devices, since even before he entered high school, so as not to not experience what I’ve heard so many parents of senior-year students speak to, in terms of being caught off guard and full of sorrow that their kids were all grown up and moving out. It seemed to me a rather implausible reality that a parent should feel so suddenly disjointed at the prospect of their child reaching a certain young-adult maturity level, as though they somehow didn’t see it coming all the years of their youth and moving out to start a life of their own wasn’t part of the deal.
But now I sorta get it.
Despite all my efforts to look deeply into the nature of impermanence and work to develop my practice in the art of letting go, just the other day I suddenly realized that my husband and I’s time with my 18-year old stepson is incredibly short. I did the math. Given how our residential schedule is lined out in our parenting plan – a schedule we’ve up-held diligently since he was at the tail end of first grade – we have a total of three remaining weeks with him until he graduates from high school, at which point he will be choosing to live full time with his mom and stepdad.
Just this morning I came across a lovely quote from Jack Kornfield on twitter, which states: To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.
Lately I’ve been taking special notice of some new changes occurring in my stepson Jaden, who’s 16-years-old and a sophomore in high school. I’m grateful for having a mindfulness practice because it teaches me how to engage in life’s ever changing ways with more ease and flow, as opposed to railing against it trying desperately to hold onto how I want or think things should be. So, for much of the time since he was around 3-years-old (which is when I started regularly practicing mindfulness and meditation with a sangha), I’ve been observant of the changes inherent through all the years of watching a small being grow up and mature into a young adult.
The presence and benefit of mindfulness, in regards to witnessing the changes associated with his growing up, was revealed to me through the interplay with other parents. Many moms and dads are shocked, overwhelmed, and/or anxious about their kids’ getting older, as though they’re having a hard time letting go of the little boy or girl they thought would somehow last forever. Whereas, the changes I was seeing in Jaden made perfect sense to me – ah, the power of mindfulness at work again! Of course he was getting taller, getting involved in different interests, gaining more confidence, learning to drive, growing facial hair – these are all things that tend to happen when you start growing up. But still, friends and family members will point these things out to me like it was some sort of incredible, hard-to-fathom breaking news: “Can you believe how TALL Jaden’s getting?!” and I would think, internally to myself so as not to offend them, “Why yes, of course he’s growing taller, that’s pretty much what kids do.”
In my experience the act of mindful observation (without judging or reacting) is the entryway into the process of accepting and embracing. And really, when it comes down to it, the quality of one’s life can be boiled down to this: Are we fighting or are we embracing? In any given moment, in any and all situations, the answer to this question is a crucial factor in how things are playing out for us.