I loved her for more than 40 years, and then one day she did the unimaginable – she broke my heart. My mother passed away seven years ago, and when I sit down and think about it, I think one day the pain will go away and the grief will eventually disappear. Instead, it hovers. It never goes away.
Waking up every morning with an abandoned and lonely feeling is as inevitable as nightfall.
Accepting her death and moving forward is a constant day-to-day challenge. Some days I win at it; some days I don’t.
I’ve done the very typical things that most people do when they suffer a loss: I’ve read beautiful and poetically written self-help books. I’ve journaled, documenting reflections, confessions and memories. I’ve Googled neighborhood psychics and tarot card readers thinking… well, I am not really sure what I was thinking with that. I searched to no avail, but then finally, one random afternoon, I heard what I needed to hear.
I was at the coffee shop ordering my usual when I overheard the barista tell a customer “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” I know. I didn’t get it either. Not for a while. Then I realized what he was talking about: you mustn’t look for liberation and internal peace outside of yourself.
That’s pretty deep.
Nonetheless, I decided I wanted “to achieve transmission of enlightenment, to taste totality, to see into our own nature, to gain knowledge by dispelling the darkness, and to find the middle path.” I wanted to slow down my busy life; to find balance and peace. So I dragged my friend to a meditation weekend with a group of 12 eager students, armed with a great thirst to clear their minds and attain an elevated level of self-knowledge. We’re talking Zen-level here.
I’ll skip to the part where we arrive at our meditation retreat and I learned, day one that I was not ready for the answers to any of the questions I was asking. Instead, I have “Monkey Mind” (and that little tyke has a lot of energy).
The gentleman running the retreat eagerly explained to us that our thoughts are clutter, mere illusions. Our mind jumps from thought to thought, stirring up emotions that wreak havoc. The result: a general delusion that becomes a horrific false reality.
The man in charge continued to tell us we need to shed our illusions. He explained that the reality is that there is you and your mind. It doesn’t matter your history, and it doesn’t matter your future, right now is what’s important because this moment is the moment you exist—it is your moment of existence. We need to un-busy our minds.
I’ll be the first to admit, I like the idea that ‘this is my moment of existence’, but I think I like what my monkey is selling more. I am open to evolution. This doesn’t mean I leave who I am behind; it means that I am more than I was. And I like thinking about my future and feeling as though I have some control in carving it out.
I used to be a huge believer in fate. What an incredibly romantic notion, and it’s so easy to express as absolute truth through rose-colored hindsight glasses. But it’s depressing to think that I can work so hard toward a goal and if it’s not my destiny, if it’s not fate, then I’ve worked hard for nothing. So again, I like what my monkey is selling. I don’t cling or grasp to the vines it swings from, I don’t attach myself to false hopes; I simply enjoy, and appreciate, the inspiration of my monkey. And so I feed it. Every day. It likes chocolate.
Although I have not been able to find peace with her death, my mother’s passing has sent me on this path of monumental discovery. I do not have to “slow down” to find peace and happiness. Sometimes a busy mind is the only way to learn wisdom in life. And in that, I find peace.
Lisa Juliano is a compelling writer and storyteller at heart. She is a freelance writer and has been writing professionally since 2001. She earned a degree in journalism at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. She’s most notably published in the health and wellness genre, but regularly blogs for an array of clients in a multitude of industries. She’s also written several ebooks. Lisa lives in Phoenix, Ariz.