What does September do to you? Oh man! Me? When I walk across the lawn in the morning and dew wets my feet through my shoes? When I see all those school busses? And excited kids frothing at mouths of laneways dwarfed by their new back packs? It floods me with nostalgia – sweet, thick and sticky – like molasses.
I feel sad summer is departing – it’s my favourite season. I remember my school days, then my kids’ school days. My husband B says, “It’s okay to go back there. To the memories. Just don’t stay there.”
He’s right of course, as I now have granddaughters currently making memories as they try to skip to school under the weight of their big sparkly rainbow back packs. So, in an effort to try to get back to something besides Memory Lane, I tracked down the self-help book I was reading, way back in June, before easy beach reads like Good in Bed and A Sexy Time of It captured my “hot fun in the summertime” fancy. It’s Life After Death by that deep-thinker Deepak Chopra. Despite the difficulty I have understanding some of his concepts, he manages to calm me. He gets me thinking beyond me, outside of me.
Thanks to Deepak, while riding in the car with B the other afternoon under the dullest of skies, the landscape looked resplendent – a patchwork of fields bursting green and gold bordered by lush trees and shocking drifts of goldenrod. (I googled goldenrod and ragweed – truly a dull, raggedy-looking weed – and discovered it’s the ragweed NOT the goldenrod that people are allergic to, so no need to dislike, reject, or pluck any goldenrod.) You see, Deepak’s words remind me that I’m merely a vessel, through which events, emotions and time travel, but don’t need to stay.
Ever check your body and notice how tight, wound, poised for battle it often is? Why? It’s like we’re always bracing for the next catastrophe, which, if you wait long enough, is bound to come. But it’s our judgment – honed over years of collecting and rejecting various beliefs – that calls a thing “good” or “bad”, yes?
The Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti said this: “the highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgment.” Wow. That certainly sounds tricky – and seems a difficult state to consistently maintain. I’ve found pockets of personal non-judgment in two ways: meditating and journaling. Meditating gives me permission to just be and journaling often points out “mental loops” I get on when going through life’s various challenges. “Witnessing allows us to see and understand with an intelligence that is holistic, without a win-or-lose orientation,” says Deepak.
As we age, here’s a observation of Deepak’s that we should all find reassuring: “you can be redefined continuously”. He suggests we contemplate the possibility of this in response to the question “Can we open the mind?” and offers these tricks and tips in attempting to pry open that organ that threatens to turn into Fort Knox the older we get:
*know that you will ID with your worldview at every stage of personal growth
*accept that these IDs are temporary and you will not be yourself until you reach unity
*be flexible, willing to change your ID every day, and don’t defend an “I” you know is temporary
*let quietly observing without judgment replace the ingrained ideas you reach for automatically
*see that struggle is a signal to let go and open space for a new answer to unfold
*when you can’t let go, forgive yourself and move on
*use every opportunity to tell yourself all viewpoints are valid, every experience valuable, every insight a moment of freedom
Says Deepak, “. . . give your allegiance to transformation rather than defending the status quo.” And so, our battle cry, as we go kicking and screaming into old age? Transformation! We’re not retiring! Hell no. We’re transforming!
My son Jay had a favourite book that I’m now reading to my grandson Beau, who loves it too. The child’s picture goes in the back and there’s a hole cut-out throughout, and there is the child – as a fireman, a school bus driver, an astronaut. The mantra? “I can be what I want to be.”
Be what you want to be. And stay open to the notion that tomorrow you can be this and the next day you can be that and the day after that . . .
In the website photo goldenrod, on the left, is friend, while ragweed on the right, is foe.