Holding On

>    Some blogs are more personal than others.
    Recently I visited my 91-year-old mother who lives in Florida alone and, for the most part, still independently. She is quite fit physically, although her cognitive skills are deteriorating more rapidly as of late. While there is much written on the challenges of caring for the elderly, and especially those with decreasing mental capacity, I prefer to make a somewhat different observation.
    What was most striking to me about my mother’s behavior was that it has become pretty much a “microcosm” of what used to be a “macrocosm.”  By that, I mean that while she now spends her days and nights mainly in or just outside her condominium, the things that matter to her and how she spends her time have not changed, they have simply gotten smaller and more intense in scope.
    For example, my mother was always straightening up our house as I was growing up and so now she is still straightening up her “house”…even though there is virtually nothing to straighten. (She has a professional cleaning woman weekly). She also watched a lot of television, as I recall, so now the TV is on every waking hour, whether or not she is watching it…and she watches it hours on end. She was always insecure about her ability to manage her personal matters and paperwork, and so she daily reviews the mail scrupulously and repeatedly…even bulk mail. She was always mistrustful of others and so she shreds every envelope into narrow strips so no one can steal her name or address. And, sadly, she always had difficulty being close and intimate…or making conversation…so for three days we did lots of task oriented chores, watched TV, and spoke little.
    Interestingly, I saw this same macro/micro transition in my father the year or two before he died.
    Which brings me to my observation.
    As we age, unless we have spent a great deal of time open and committed to change and the willingness to confront our personal demons, we will likely end our lives mired in the same patterns in which we lived them.
    The good news is that there is a way out of this cycle of patterns. It’s called self-inquiry. Self-inquiry is an ongoing, spiritual practice of moving more and more inward towards the Truth of who we each are. It seeks neither justification nor explanation, excuse nor escape…but rather silence, relentless honesty, and a fierce desire to receive the gift of knowing that what we spend the most time running from is the very thing we seek: Oneness. It’s the realization that every attachment is a loss waiting to happen and the only thing that’s real and eternal is who we are beyond our bodies and beyond our attachments.
    Who you are is the awareness that is reading this blog. Not the eyes that are seeing it, or the mind that is processing the message, or the body that is sitting in the chair, but the awareness that you have eyes, a mind, and a body.
    I feel so blessed to know this much about my life with time still to live it. I wish it could be different for my mother, but she has made her choices and held on to her patterns as she has…and I suspect there is a certain amount of comfort for her in having done so.
    I seek growth, not comfort, and growth does not come without the tension created by expanding boundaries. I hope I remain focused on this inner journey throughout my life.
    I also hope that if my daughter writes a blog some day about the last days of her mother, it will be about how until the end I was surrendering to Truth and embracing change.

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