My husband and I have recently been transported to Victoria, BC, to spend some time with family established here. Notably, we have been able to hug our 13 month old grandson for the first time! Our first grandbaby… one of the special sweetnesses of life…!
I have fallen into a time warp of sorts here, oblivious of what day it is, or even the precise time of the day… When there is a little one, everything naturally starts to organize around his/her rhythm. It’s been a delight. After breakfast and a bit of yogāsana practice, I have been taking my grandson to a nearby park/playground. As I push his stroller to the park, I sing him two French folksongs. And sometimes he seems to hum along. I shadow him on the play structures and marvel at the things he learns to do every day. There have been some lovely, if brief, moments of connection with other grandparents grandparenting. I watch him closely for signs of fatigue so that I can offer him a snack and a ride home before he gets too strung out. On the way home he invariably falls asleep. Once home I park his stroller near the kitchen door and tuck my sweater around him. Then I brew some tea and keep an ear open for the sounds of him awakening.
It is such magic to be welcomed into our grandson’s home. My son and daughter-in-law have created something so beautiful here. Love and creativity overflow everywhere! There are apple trees, a big garden, four ducks, a stand of evergreens, fresh flower arrangements… apple crisp, spicy milky black tea… and love.
I am on the cusp of leaving home to travel. This journey will take me to finally meet my grandson in person (he’s 13 months old now) and to be reunited after 18 months with his parents, and another of my sons. Anticipation of this journey has taken me into reflecting on what it is to leave, to arrive, to leave again…
Life is a series of leave-takings. And the arrivals – are they perhaps just preparation for the next leaving? It’s a grey, rainy day today, and I wonder if my contemplation has become tainted with a sentimental melancholy. But there is an undeniable truth here. In my sitting practice this morning I felt the exhalation as a leaving. As I focused on it I knew it as a preparation for the moment when I will leave this body.
Maybe all our living, all our breathing, all our journeying is a preparation for that leave-taking.
In my mind, this is not at all a morbid contemplation. It’s a reality check. A revisiting of the notion that – as Hamlet says – the readiness is all. No growth ever happens without this shedding of the old and a stepping into the new.
Lord Śiva holds the damaru in his right hand, creating the pulsating beat that brings everything into being. Simultaneously, his left hand holds agni, the fire of destruction and dissolution. Since the hands are the motor organs of the heart, this is where creation and destruction have their source.
May all your journeys be blessed. May we all come to rest in the dynamic stillness at the heart of the whirling tāndava dance of life.
Today I went with some friends to Beyond Van Gogh: An Immersive Experience. It was amazing! Flowers from his paintings flying around the walls of the room. Famous Van Gogh canvases being sketched, painted, and dissolving on the walls, on the floor… I was inside his art and wanted to run and twirl (I held myself back but did manage some sweeping arm gestures, as I walked around and around the room, drinking it in).
After we exited from the experience I walked with one friend back to her home where she served tea and treats. We sipped our tea on her patio. I watched birds alight on her new bird bath, dipping their beaks in for refreshment. The resident backyard bunny was enjoying a meal of clover. A wasp wandered over to see if it could share any of our treats.
And it struck me forcibly: LIFE IS THE ULTIMATE IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE.
Van Gogh was profoundly immersed in life. He took his experience and found colour, shape, and texture to share his bliss. And here, in our time, his experience, expressed on his canvases, was projected onto the walls of the room taking me into an immersive experience. It in turn pushed me into seeing the actual flow of life surrounding me as the ultimate immersive experience.
Talk about circularity!
Back home, I found a dharma talk in my inbox from Richard Rohr . The following lines summed up the experience I was attempting to integrate:
Beholding happens when we stop trying to “hold” and allow ourselves to “be held” … We are completely enchanted by something outside and beyond ourselves. (Richard Rohr)
The Infinite Love that holds everything in being: it as intimate as the breath you are taking right now.
I just read Rabindranath Tagore’s poem I Won’t Let You Go(Jete Nahi Dibo, translated from the Bangla by Fakrul Alam).
It is our perennial anthem. Our longing to grasp, to hold fast to – all that is dear, all that is ours. And this in the face of a world of leavings, of things torn away, of hearts torn apart. In the face of the unraveling of every minutely, carefully worked weaving. A conclusion denied but inevitable.
Mid to late afternoon, after tea, after reading Tagore. I lie down on the couch and curl up like a comma. Not to sleep, but to go quietly inside and think things through.
Today, I am considering the collision of world-views.
A few blog posts back I considered this distance that separates in the air you breathe: the inevitability of the separation that results from being coiled into our cultural cocoons.
The divide is fractal, existing not only on the macro level of culture, but on the micro level of any two individuals. We are all blind, in varying degrees, to the ground upon which we stand. We look out into the world, thinking that we see objectively. But the really real is veiled by the innumerable beliefs we hold about it.
What to do, then? Just give up and sink into the false conviction that only my world-view is real?
It occurs to me that attempting to bridge the gap is why we’re here. Here, now, in apparent isolation from everything else. Our attempts to find connection may often be clumsy and miss the mark. But we can’t give up the project.
This conundrum reminds me of the title of one of Tagore’s novels: Yogayog. That is, yoga + ayoga. Yoga – connection, and its opposite – ayoga – separation. The former is the ultimate reality that underlies everything. The latter is the relative reality in which we spend most of our time.
May we support each other in the attempt to bridge the gap and find connection. The survival of everything depends upon this.
Today the sun shines. The banks of snow begin to warm and sink into the still hidden earth. Spring is not yet here, but its song is whispered. Our winter souls recognize the melody and start to thaw…
Today I had bharatanatyam class #19 with Supratim Talukder. In spite of his observation that my attempt at Natta Adavus #8 was woefully lacking, I feel flooded by an irrepressible optimism. Guided by his observations, I will improve. And he introduced me to some rhythmic footwork in the Pancha Nadai. I love playing with rhythm. My father was an amateur percussionist, and I carry on his love of rhythm. I’m SO excited to explore this new footwork! Beating out rhythms with my feet…
The rhythm of the changing season fills my soul. Time to get out for a walk – to taste the promise that fills the air.