“Until you love death, you cannot love life. What you fear about death is what you fear about life.” ~ Byron Katie.
“As people around you pass away, you become increasingly aware of your own mortality. The body will dissolve. Many people still, in our civilization, they deny death. They don’t want to think about it, don’t want to give it any attention.
There is enormous potential there for spiritual flowering. Even in people who, up to the point of the beginning of the fading of the form, were completely identified with the form. It’s your last chance in this incarnation, as your body begins to fade – or you are becoming aware of this limited lifespan. It’s your last chance to go beyond identification with form. This is true whether it’s to do with your body or somebody else’s body.”
I rode my bike home from work twice last week. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for several years, but was afraid to try. The route home includes driving alongside very busy traffic and crossing two freeway ramps. But I (finally) conquered my fears and did it!
While riding, I couldn’t help but see how riding a bike home was analogous to life: there are choices you make that send you off (literally) on a different path. Every bit of the way, you make choices:
- smile or don’t smile at those you encounter;
- appreciate nature (or don’t);
- follow the rules/laws (or take dangerous risks);
- breathe and enjoy the journey OR stress and rush to get to your destination
All journeys (literal and figurative) share a common theme: It’s beneficial to look ahead and do a little planning (to be prepared), but most pleasant and constructive to be fully present.
It is rarely helpful to look back.
In the airport, waiting to depart
What’s this? Our flight’s been delayed
Five hours (!) – Why? It’s raining in Phoenix
Disappointment, fear and anger encroach
Is there any other way to get home sooner?
I ask the counter lady
I’m sorry, all flights are backed up
I laugh then, because her name tag reads “Zen”
“My kids are around pit bulls every day. In the ’70s they blamed Dobermans, in the ’80s they blamed German Shepherds, in the ’90s they blamed the Rottweiler. Now they blame the Pit Bull.”
One morning, Day 6 of our Walkout, one of my teenage daughters told me she was going out to breakfast with her boyfriend. She’d been out a lot that week: There were pre-prom activities, “The Prom,” and then post-prom outings.
As a recovering Tiger Mom, I’ve bitten my tongue when I want to
ask about tell her to do her schoolwork. I’ve backed off (been over a year now), because I wanted to go from Tiger (ferocious and unforgiving) to Owl (wise and patient).
Since my own transformation, her grades have improved dramatically (4.1 GPA), she’s obtained her driving
permitlicense, played violin at All-State and she’s noticeably happier.
But that morning, I voiced concern about her responsibilities. Inwardly, I judged her social calendar. She’s going out too much. She’s not working hard enough. How will she get a college scholarship?
Do you hear the fear?
Her smiling face turned dark. “I’m communicating to you my plans. Why do you want to pick a fight?”
answered confessed, “I am struggling inwardly. I know I should not say this. You know what? I trust that you know what you need to do and that you will do it.” Ah! Good catch!
And we were fine.
I chose love over fear.
People (who are “people” anyway?) might argue: “You are her parent. It’s your job to get on her about her responsibilities. You can’t let her run all over you like that.” But she’s not running all over me. She’s living her life. She is her own person and she knows what she’s doing. She’s not putting herself in danger. She’s not putting others in danger. I would say (and do) something if that was the case.
Too many Tiger Parents make the same mistakes over and over again. They communicate to their children that the outside is more important than the inside: grades, colleges and achievements are more important than knowing who you really are…more important than having fun with friends and learning how to navigate social waters. I’ve had several 5th and 6th grade students cry and tell me that they are receiving oppressive pressure at home.
Thus, I continue to choose love over fear. It’s challenging at times. Fear can look like caring, or “good parenting” or “discipline.” But it doesn’t feel quite right. Love always feels true.