A dear friend of mine turns ninety-five tomorrow. She is a published writer and has a rich and interesting life. It is a privilege to be in her circle of companions, to hear her stories and to meet people she has known.
But I am also watching someone move to the edge of her physical life. Her body is not working all that well. Many days are difficult, and every day is packed with loss and limitation. She can’t see clearly out the window to her beautiful woodland view. Walking is a challenge – she doesn’t even move to the bathroom without her wheeled walker. A few months ago she gave up her home and her beloved library of six thousand volumes. When she was reading an article last week, she bemoaned the fact that she couldn’t reach behind her chair to look up a quotation from a favorite poet. Those books are gone. Her chair and her fireplace are gone. It seems her life is now about what she is giving up, not what she doing or creating.
You may be wondering what this has to do with us here at CreakyJoints?
It seems to me that whenever loss and limitation come, whether through aging or illness or accident, there is a question of how we will bear it. To acknowledge that we cannot function as we once did, some roads are closed to us, and at times it feels like we have had to let go of more than we ever imagined.
Yet the lesson from my friend’s life is instructive to me. Because while I see so much loss, she jokes about that every day she gets up is a good one. And she means it.
It is a way to live when the world seems to shrink.
She would not use this term, but I compare it to the work of meditative mindfulness.
Jon Kabot -Zinn, the mindfulness meditation pioneer, has a phrase that helps me. In his classic book Wherever You Go There You Are he wrote remind yourself: “This is it.”
It is gentle re-frame. I look out at the blossoming trees, and think, “This is it.” Meaning, this is what I have. This is what I see — the beauty and the fragility, and the promise of spring.
This is all of life in this moment. I can see it and appreciate it and accept it, or pass it by.
If I move to open myself to receive it, the time broadens and expands. My worries about whatever pressures and tasks fall away. I am only here in this sliver of time, but it is enough.
That is all mindfulness is — taking a deep breath and seeing what is right here. Not your projected future (which doesn’t exist) or your past (which no longer exists).
In these moments of breathing and enjoying, we say with wonder: “This is it.”
There is freedom and release, wonder and gratitude.
What a gift! This is it.