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.
I’ve been thinking about what this, my next blog post, would be about for the last few days but have had a hard time landing on just one idea to write about, as a few different practice-related topics have been bubbling around for me, as of late. So, I thought I’d just include a list of the topics along with a brief synopsis of each one, in an effort to get my creative juices flowing a bit. Please note: these scatterings of thought may not make a whole lot of sense just yet.
- There is a great importance to develop our relationship with solitude, stillness, and silence if we have a desire to get in touch with ourselves on a deeper level – which is not possible in the fray of everyday life. We need to cultivate a connection to the art of being in and of the world – not getting solely fixated on our doing nature, becoming distracted and dispersed.
- How do we best support loved ones going through difficult times? While it’s true that deep listening and loving speech go a long ways to help reduce the suffering of others, sometimes additional action is necessary. How do we best hold both of these truths: 1. We cannot support those who are not ready to receive it, despite how good our intentions are or how “right” we may be in our assessment of how their actions/behavior should change in order to benefit their situation. 2. Sometimes a loving intervention or decisive action may be in order, as oftentimes those who are struggling profoundly are unable/unequipped to ask for help. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
- What tools do I feel, as a budding Dharma teacher, are most supportive for people to focus on in regards to getting started (and remaining) on the path of mindfulness, in the context of Thay’s tradition?
- Is the fact that my friendships and priorities are changing simply a natural unfolding, or is there something I’m missing that I should be actively working on to address or otherwise adjust?
- What is the balance between being self-possessed and strong-willed and not overshadowing/offending others? How much responsibility do I take on in regards to the feelings/thoughts/views of others – especially when I judge that others are often threatened by my strengths and what I have to offer and/or are highly sensitive people which tend to take things very personally and are overly dramatic in nature?
- When, if ever, is it appropriate to attempt to correct someone’s falsely held notions about something?
And the inner musings continue…
Ah, life. What a splendid manifestation it is!
Sunset last Friday night in Missoula
With the beauty of autumn unfolding here in the Rocky Mountains of Montana I’ve been thinking about the fertile opportunities that transitions offer us. I was imagining what it would be like if there were no autumn season here. What if we jumped overnight from summer to winter? Yikes! Or what if babies grew up in a matter of days rather than a matter of years? Double yikes!
Sometimes transitions can allow us the chance to ease into the impermanent nature of things. They can be a time of richness and spaciousness. They can also be challenging and at times very difficult. Moving from one thing to another thing often takes a period of transition time in between. And this in-between time can often involve inner feelings of both harmony and dis-harmony happening together at the same time.
Whether we’re going from summer to fall, moving from one town to another, parenting an ever-changing, growing child, entering a new phase of adulthood, or starting over in a new job or relationship things take time to adjust to. We are not static beings living in a fixed environment. We are always changing. Our surroundings are always changing. Our loved ones are always changing.