I hear my grandmother say, on the occasion of her 84th birthday, “I don’t know where all the years have gone, in my head I am still 19.”
Nelson Mandela is 94 (may he rest in peace) and has been in and out of the hospital for the last three months, what is clearly toward the end of a remarkable life. Every news bit I hear about the former South African president and Nobel Laureate is like the world, specifically the citizens of South Africa, is waiting to exhale at the same time wanting to prolong his life. Everything, every life, ends the as it begins – in impermanence. We cannot stop or hinder the cycles of the universe’s finite and connected energy. His ‘mind pictures’ must surely be running together in a blur of fast forward motion rather than stand out singly in high definition clarity. But with 27 of those 94 years confined to a prison, the ‘blur’ of those (particular) days must be more like watching slow motion photography. Someplace in between balance can be found.
With balance against the blur comes appreciation, gratitude, something I think a great many of us are lacking in our lives. I listen to my sister-in-law (the latest ‘generation’ of moms known to me) speak of the events for their (various) country club memberships, plus kids swim & piano lessons, play-dates, birthday parties, school functions and friends who do the same with their kids but also squeeze in lake house visits, Little League, skate park, cheer-leading, gymnastics, cultural things (museums, historic sites), art classes, horseback riding, vacations that are more like running the gauntlet – I am exhausted. It’s of course NOT JUST THE KIDS but this syndrome bred in childhood of ‘not wanting to miss anything’ which perpetuates B-L-U-R onto everyday lives of adults we all know as well. The state of dissatisfaction, always feeling like you might be missing something, always needing to be entertained, engaged and ‘doing’. People, (borrowing from my dear girlfriend Jennifer Sertl’s amplification formulae here), breathe and ‘learn to be still’. Instead of filling UP every minute of everyday focus on the magic, the beauty, feel reverence, be quiet, fill with one thing – fully. I bear witness to the frenetic nature of American lives and wonder – where is the joy? Cultivating appreciation within us almost guarantees fulfillment. Our awareness, in some circles mindfulness, gets you just a little bit more out of everything.
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