A good friend of mine has experienced impermanence on a deeply personal level the past few weeks. He lost two people in his life. One of them was his father who died unexpectedly of a heart attack in his kitchen the other was a friend who perished in a car accident. There are lessons and beauty that can be taken from any situation no matter how painful.
My father died when I was young. I was twenty-two and still attending college at Colorado State University. In retrospect after all of these years, I didn’t handle the situation as well as I could have. In all fairness to myself, my relationship with my father was strained at best. We were two strangers living in the same house for 18 years connected by shared DNA. I just didn’t know my father, and he wasn’t around much because he worked 60 hours a week. However, that was a blessing in many ways. When he was around, he made my life difficult, and much of the time he got drunk when he was home. When he got drunk, he could be one mean SOB.
The fact of the matter was that at the time there wasn’t a manual as far as I knew titled “How to handle your father dying of cancer when you’re twenty-two." In retrospect, what would I tell my twenty-two-year-old self now? I would tell my 22-year-old self to spend some time asking questions and get to know him on a deeper level before cancer completely takes over. But the main thing I would tell myself is to deal with the issues. If you don’t, you will be carrying them around with you for many years to come. Why add the extra baggage on your journey through life. Today, I can say that my dad did the best he could with what he had. My grandfather died when my dad was eight years old. He was the oldest of five boys, and this happened during the depression. He did not possess the tools to be a dad. He was also haunted by the things he had to do during the war until the time of his death. He thought he was going to hell. I believe that is why he drank so heavily for most of his life after the war. My father made a good living, and I never had any wants at least materially. He did the best he could. The lesson I would tell anyone is if you have issues with either or both of your parents deal with them when they are still alive. After they go, it is just not the same. You also must recognize and realize your part in the relationship. I could be a spoiled rotten brat who had anger issues. He did the best he could have with what he had.
What is the beauty of impermanence? It begins by contemplating the cold hard fact that nothing lasts, and I mean nothing lasts. Someday even our sun will no longer be shining. No matter how much the mind likes to cling, nothing lasts. What is the beauty in that you may ask? No matter what has happened in your life your situation not only can but will change. If you ride that wave all must be let go of, even the “nice things.” If you choose to hang on to the difficulties and the pleasures you will be dragged. The other beauty of impermanence is that no matter what you do someday you will no longer be. Therefore if everything eventually fades, you should spend your time in the present and enjoy each and every moment as much as you can. This is easier said than done. No matter how hard I try, I am continually caught in the past and future. Fortunately, now I have the tools to recognize that, realize from where it arises, and let go. It is a practice, a journey which has no definite ending. Except for the ending when you are no longer among the living. All the things you are currently worried about right now won’t matter. If they won't matter then why should they matter now? Let go or be dragged.
Until Next Week,
Rich Decker – Mindful Accord