Life’s course carries us unabashedly forward into aging. As Rumi reminds me we’ve been through a million cycles of birth and rebirth, a million circles of beginning and return – even in one lifetime. I feel my place in life’s great circle this weekend as I witness my son next to my grandmother: Rowan, who is just shy of two, next to LaRue, just five years from being alive for a full century. Lao Tzu comes to mind as he says “Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.”
My mother and I dance in the middle, she caring for my grandmother and I for my son. We live a similar existence as full-time caregivers – helping with toilet, bath, food and sleep. Both of us up several times a night, we are firekeepers in the middle – bearing witness to the great signposts of life: Beginning and End – and the realization that we often go on from this world much the same way we came in.
My mother tells me it’s easier to stay grounded in the present moment now that she is caregiving so intensely. I sigh in agreement. We muse about the calling to be intensely focused, on point, on guard – preventing a fall and ensuring comfort… “Yes, its easier to be present so long as you are in the flow of tasks and not resisting what’s arising,” we say. Stay in the flow, stay present. Loose the flow and crash.
Lao Tzu comes to mind again. Stay in the flow of life, breathing deeply, not resisting, moving in the world like a graceful dancer carrying water with the task of not spilling; Ever present, diving into the day’s tasks with contentment rather than begrudgingly – receiving what arises like a gift of Nature. “Embracing Tao, you become embraced,” he says. Embrace what is given and you are embraced by life. Resist what is given and your life becomes like the dream I had the other night: riding uphill on a bicycle in snow and ice on a busy highway full of cars (yes, this was really my dream). Instead:
Supple, breathing gently, you become reborn.
Clearing your vision, you become clear.
Nurturing your beloved, you become impartial.
Opening your heart, you become accepted.
Accepting the World, you embrace Tao.
Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
Controlling without authority,
This is love.