I’m homesick. My family is going through some very troubling times, and I can’t be there to help. Honestly, if I could be there, I wouldn’t really be able to change anything anyway, but my mind says, “Shit, if I could just get down there, we could think of something!”
I miss my dad. I feel he would know what to do, or at least he would have something funny to say about it. We could make breakfast together, ride around the farm, listen to the radio, and I could hear him sing again. I’d remember the times we were at the Orpheum in Memphis. Just us two. Certainly that would make everything better.
The reality is that he is gone. I am miles away from my family. I can’t change how people behave, and I certainly can’t wave a wand to make my loved ones healthy again. I can’t take away their fears. I can’t do it for them, and I certainly haven’t been able to do it for myself. I can read every yoga, self-help, meditation, or spiritual book I own, and none of them will contain the answer. I am filled with grief for what I have lost and for what I think should be.
Today, I was sitting in my bedroom floor. I was originally there folding laundry, but I was distracted by some nearby books. I flipped through them hoping some sort of sign from the Divine would say, “Hey, page 36 has all the answers.” I kept thinking, “I wish Dad was here.” Then I looked down, and noticed the rug where I was sitting. When he was alive, he placed it underneath his recliner so his feet wouldn’t wear down the carpet when he rocked in his chair. After he died, I had placed it beside my bed so every morning my feet could hit that same worn, threadbare rug. It was supposed to remind me of what a gift it was to be alive, to carry on some sort of legacy, or to just remember him through the ordinary things he touched everyday.
While sitting on that rug and flipping though those nearby books, I read this quote from Maezumi Roshi, a Zen master, that said, “Why don’t you die now, and enjoy the rest of your life?” and for a brief moment through tears I laughed out loud, but I wasn’t sure why. It’s a dark quote. To me, it was a reminder that life definitely isn’t about constantly achieving happiness, peace, or security. If my goal is to always avoid sadness, I might as well call it a day, now. On a deeper level, I think Roshi is also saying that in order to find contentment one must let themselves die, not in the literal sense, but to let go of our identities–what we think we need to be happy, who we think we are, how we think things need to go.
To be on this side of the dirt, even in times of sadness, is a gift. Somewhere deep down inside I feel grateful for grief. To even live a life worth grieving over is a pretty remarkable thing. I don’t really have words of wisdom for myself or anyone else. I can’t season this in anyway to make it more digestible. All I can say is that I love my family. I am grateful for them.
I can’t know everything.
I don’t know what I need.
I don’t know how it should all turn out.
…and this…slightly comforts me.