I Am My Dad Today

Has anyone faded away from you?

I know I am not alone. I know there are many others who share the loss I feel because someone they love is fading away from them.

Whether the reason has a name like dementia or Alzheimer’s or is nameless, whole parts of them seem to be missing and it creates a huge hole in their world. And my world too.

To watch this happen, whether bit by bit or all of a sudden and know there is nothing you can do to stop it, brings a cascade of tears.

How are we, the ones left empty and dry by their departure, to sit with this sense of loss?

I can only answer this for myself, but perhaps by sharing a part of me, there might be something valuable for you.

I write.

And through the writing, I allow my heart to bleed words onto the page.

For me, this is a way to vent the grief I feel and once it is outside of me, I can breathe again. I can let go of what I’m holding inside that rests on my chest and smothers me.

By writing, I open to wisdom and peace and let words flow through me into the open air.

Here is the poem I wrote.

I Am My Dad Today

I am my dad today.

At least that’s what my mother thinks.

She calls me by his name, her only connection to this world.

She asks me (him) where she is. I tell her but it doesn’t sink in.

She asks again.

I offer another answer and it falls into the same dark hole with everything else I say.

For a moment, I am not my father, and she asks me who I am.

I brace myself and tell her, I am your son.

A look crosses her face.

I wonder, could it be recognition?

She looks up at me and tells me she has no children.

I guess that makes my sister and me orphans. It’s certainly the way a part of me feels.

I wonder what string attaches her to this earth. I can’t see one. It must be some sort of magic.

It’s time for me to go. I tell her I need to go home to make dinner.

She asks me when she will see me again.

I try to calm myself.

I tell her that my sister, her daughter, will be with her tomorrow and that I’ll see her again the next day.

She turns away.

I walk out of her room wondering who I will be to her then. I cannot possibly know.

The one thing I do know is she will still be my mother.

I try to find some peace in this.

I love you mom.                             (end)

I know that I cannot change what is happening to her or to me, but I need to find a way to live in this new space.

I’m sure that others who have experienced this might be able to shed some light on this for me, but I want to know what god has to tell me.

So, I ask.

My answer comes from a part of god I know and love. It’s a part of god I know as Lia, which stands for Love In Action. She has a distinctly feminine voice and always speaks loving truth to me.

I try to calm myself and let go of the distractions that surround me. I breathe in and out, slowing and softening, so I can hear her voice clearly. When I find some peace, she speaks.

“The solace you seek comes when you release and accept.”

She continues, “Yes, of course, you feel deeply for the living loss of your mom, who is both here and not here. Rest easy and remember this…when she is with you, she is yours AND when she drifts beyond you, she is mine. She slips past the veil between worlds, and she comes to be with me. We sit together with the most precious love surrounding us and we rest in this beautiful state of bliss.”

I take heart and she tells me more.

“I know that all you see is a woman you love who appears to be here with you, but you cannot seem to reach her, and she seems disconnected and far, far away from you. I encourage you to see beyond this surface view. I ask you to accept my blessed assurance that she is with me and is always covered in my love.”

I sit with this revelation and let it fill me with peace. I do still feel the loss of connection with my mom, but something deeply profound has change inside of me and I now know she will always be taken care of, not by me, but by the sweetness of the divine.

Heading Into The Storm

It seems human nature to try to avoid challenging situations in life, almost like we’re hard-wired that way. Perhaps some internal awareness is operating, attempting to save us from having to deal with things we wished were not a part of our life.

When a difficulty presents itself to you, what are you inclined to do? Do you shy away or pretend it’s not real or solicit for help from others? Or do you face it, recognizing it’s unlikely to be resolved without your direct intervention?

There are of course lots of other strategies, but most seem to come with potentially uncomfortable consequences.

You may be thinking this very moment about something you’re facing and wondering how to proceed. Or you may want to arm yourself with a new approach for when the time comes for your next challenge.

You might already know that I am a writer. Afterall, you are reading something I’ve written right now. But I write more than these posts. I am wholly engaged in a series of books that all go by the title of Little Buddha, and I’ve just completed Book Four. In it there is a story about a young man, Max, who worked in the western part of the America doing an internship with the US Forestry Service. This gave him the opportunity to observe nature and experience her wisdom.

Although he learned many things from the Forestry workers, a Native American by the name of Black Elk, was the one who taught him the ways of nature and filled him with a living wisdom he could carry with him. More than this even, Black Elk taught Max how to observe and understand life for himself. Certainly, a most precious gift.

Perhaps the most valuable teaching of all came one day when Max was observing a herd of buffalo and watched as a massive snowstorm swept toward them. He paid as careful attention as he could, trying to see what each of them would do. In the chaos and blinding snow too much happened for him to notice it all. He wanted to understand better, so he asked Black Elk to share his wisdom.

Black Elk, whose normal approach was to teach through asking questions, decided to explain through the use of his own observations.

This is the story he told Max.

“Many, many years ago there was a Sacred Buffalo. All the other buffalo watched the Sacred Buffalo and followed the Sacred Buffalo everywhere it went, always finding enough to eat. One day, a great storm arrived. Many buffalo turned away from the storm, charging as fast as they could, trying to outrun it. Others watched to see what the Sacred Buffalo would do. The Sacred Buffalo snorted and stamped its great hooves upon the earth. Then, giving one great cry, it glanced at the herd and ran full speed into the storm, disappearing in a wall of white snow. All the other buffalo followed stampeding behind where the Sacred Buffalo had disappeared into the whiteness. A short time later all the buffalo emerged from the storm into a place of stillness and there, grazing peacefully, stood the Sacred Buffalo.”

After some more discussion Max came to understand the value of heading into the storm. He accepted and embraced the story and shifted his life, recognizing the wisdom of the Sacred Buffalo.

In my own life, I’ve seen that trying to avoid or run away from my problems has caused an enormous amount of pain and suffering for me. I’ve allowed all those scary, fearful, difficult decisions that have come to visit me too much reign over me.

The essence of Max and Black Elk’s story enlightens me. Opening myself and allowing courage to come forth, then acting swiftly and boldly, heading directly into the storm of any problem, I now see as the wisest path forward. It shortens the length of the storm and leads me into a place of peace.

In the story Black Elk gives Max a carved wooden buffalo that had been bleached white by the sun as a reminder for his travels through life.

My hope is that I remember the teaching of this story.

Should you wish to read more of the story, you can order a copy of the book, Little Buddha Book Four by Rob H. Geyer, on Amazon in either print or ebook format.

Choosing Your Memories

If someone asked you to share one of your memories, what would you choose to tell them?

Now imagine the same person asked you to share five or ten or fifty, how many of them would be ‘good’ memories?

If you were given a day or two to conjure up as many memories as you possibly could, how long would it take before you mentioned a ‘bad’ memory?

It fascinates me to consider what my answers to these questions would be. It feels like some sort of subtle test, a way to measure my satisfaction with my life.

I had an occasion recently to investigate this idea up close and personal. As my mom’s power of attorney, it was up to me to sign all the mortgage closing documents on her recent house sale.

I’d promised myself that I would walk through the house before the closing. I wanted a chance to capture the living memories I felt were stored there. I wanted to sweep them up and bring them with me. To store them somewhere safe inside me so that I could hold them, perhaps forever.

As I walked in the front door, the floodgates opened. I can’t recall the very first time I entered the home I grew up in and I that I have been a part of for over sixty years, but so many things stood there in front of me.

The house has so many interesting features and every inch of space is utilized. There is a shelf inset into the wall in the foyer. One of the shelves used to hold a small wooden ship I carved for my father. It had toothpick masts and thread rigging and it took me a long time to build. It’s not there anymore. I have no idea where it went.

I walked into the living room. A place where so many joyous family gatherings were held. A place where a mounted deer head rested above the fireplace. I’d bought it at a garage sale for 25 cents. I thought it was a great deal. I’m willing to bet the seller and his wife thought they’d made a profit. The deer head is gone now. I have no idea where it went.

On into the dining room, where all our family dinners happened. My mom was an excellent cook and I remembered many of the meals we ate there. If I stretched a bit, I could almost taste them. It became my mom’s reluctant bedroom, when it wasn’t safe for her to go up and down the stairs any longer.

Going from room to room brought more and more sweet memories. Words, sounds, feelings. The comings and goings of six decades. All the games, conversations, fears, hopes, and dreams. All the wonderful cookies after school, fresh out of my mom’s oven. The mad crazy ping pong games with my father in the basement, which was too short for our smashing forehands. All the imaginative games with my sister, one of which was pretending to be radio disc jockeys under the dining room table. Don’t ask me why that was our station headquarters. It just was.

Upstairs I walked down the hall to my bedroom. I could still see it as it was when I was a child, the placement of my desk and chair and bed, the Hopi Indian wall hanging, even the closet that had a sort of secret compartment where I stored my prized possessions.

My memory lane is long. The savoring, both touching and sweet.

Perhaps you’ve lived and lost some parts of you, a house, a family member, friend, favored pet or a lessening of your skills and senses. It happens.

What I think matters most to me is what I do with my memories.

Do I let the ‘bad’ ones overtake me, bringing me down and crushing me into silence and grief?

Or do I sift through them until all that are left are the golden, glowing, shiny memories. The ones I wish to keep and hold near to me.

The beautiful thing is, we each get to choose.

Resurrection of Love

This is a companion to my previous post, One Path to Love.

On Good Friday in 2018 I spent three hours, from noon until 3:00pm, standing, sitting, and walking around the sanctuary of Unity Church in Albany (NY) with the hope that I would be able to connect spiritually and come to a greater understanding of the events surrounding Easter.

I sensed a strength, peace and clarity and felt a ‘knowing’ arrive within me, as if I were present during that time. It felt intimate and real, and I wanted very much to capture each of the stories so that they could be shared with the world. Over the next several weeks I received the words you are about to read. But more than the words, I received the beauty, grace and Yeshiwa’s (Jesus’s) loving heart that was and is the center of each of these stories. The full text appears in my book, Nine, a Holy Week Story of Love.

I do not ask you to believe me. I ask only that you read the words and let them reveal to you what truth they have to share.

This part of the story tells of an encounter between Yeshiwa and Mary Magdalen at Yeshiwa’s burial site following his resurrection.

Chapter Eight: Resurrection (excerpt)

Yeshiwa’s narrative:

I watched from afar as the one I loved most sought after me. She approached the tomb where I had been laid, trembling with fear. Fear that I had been taken and would be lost to her forever.

She touched my burial linens, so lovingly placed upon me by Joseph after I’d been taken from the cross. She traced every impression and quietly sang a sweet song to the memory of me.

One of my angels came and spoke to her asking her, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

His garments shown with brilliance, and she fell back away from him. Then gathering herself, she said, “I am searching for my master. I wish to honor and anoint him. Please, if you know where he is, please tell me.”

The angel’s heart opened to her, and he said, “Fear not, for all is well. Your master has risen, as he told you he would. Go and seek, so that you may find him.”

She left, her heart quickening and her love revived. And she came and found me, and we held each other’s gaze and she said to me, “Oh beloved, I was so afraid. I remembered your words to us, yet still did not believe you would return. Please forgive my faithlessness. You know my love for you, and you know my great joy at seeing you, you the most precious gift to us all.”

“Mary,” I said, “there is no need for forgiveness. You have wronged no one, least of all, me. Come to me, heart of my heart.”

And she came and we embraced. As we parted, I gently held her face in my hands and looked into her eyes and placed the wholeness of my love deeply into her heart and because it was her greatest desire, she came fully awake.

I spoke to her, “My beloved, it is yours now, to teach as I have taught. To sow ripe seeds among the many. To guide the sheep and the shepherds. To you I have given the keys to the kingdom, that all might inherit everlasting life. Know that my love for you is eternal, remember me in each moment and in each breath.”

She gazed at me, and tears fell from her eyes and down her cheeks. “I will do as you ask. I will be mother to all and servant wherever I stand. I will feel you in each moment and remember you in each breath, you my master and beloved.”

“Go now and tell the others. Tell them I will meet them on the road. Remind them of my words and my promises and my love for them.”

She leaned back into me and softly said, “It will be done as you ask. I will tell them, and their hearts will rejoice.”

Then Mary and the others with her departed, running, that they might bring my good news to all who loved me.

These words show the love between Yeshiwa and Mary and the bond they shared. While channeling them, I was surrounded by their love and knew beyond any earthly knowing that this love belongs to every one of us. Freely given, offered with no expectations or demands. Ours without exception.

I hope that within these words there is something of value for you, something worth keeping for the rest of your life.

One Path to Love

On Good Friday in 2018 I spent three hours, from noon until 3:00pm, standing, sitting, and walking around the sanctuary of Unity Church in Albany (NY) with the hope that I would be able to connect spiritually and come to a greater understanding of the events surrounding Easter.

I sensed a strength, peace and clarity and felt a ‘knowing’ arrive within me, as if I were present during that time. It felt intimate and real, and I wanted very much to capture each of the stories so that they could be shared with the world. Over the next several weeks I received the words you are about to read. But more than the words, I received the beauty, grace and Yeshiwa’s (Jesus’s) loving heart that was and is the center of each of these stories. The full text appears in my book, Nine, a Holy Week Story of Love.

I do not ask you to believe me. I ask only that you read the words and let them reveal to you what truth they have to share.

This part of the story tells of an encounter with one of Yeshiwa’s tormentors who was present during his whipping.

Chapter Six: Path (excerpt)

Yeshiwa’s narrative

And I was given over to the pain of men. To men whose hearts had long ago left them, leaving them free to release all of their harshness upon me without limit. And yet in their desire to exalt over me, they suffered as I did, with every lash and cruel word, as they brought more pain into their lives and mine. When they had exhausted all of their strength, they dropped their whips and let me lay upon the coolness of the earth.

I could feel the emptiness of their spirits and I wept tears for them, for their lost lives. One, a man named Aaron, came over to me, grabbed my hair and pulled it back, so that my face tilted up toward his. I knew he meant to mock me further, but when our eyes met, he found he could not move or speak. In that single loving moment, his heart came alive. Came back fully to him. The light that had left him was born anew and was fanned into full flame and he fell down beside me and wept until he was as dry as the desert.

He gazed at me beseechingly and said, “I am so sorry master, so very sorry. I know I deserve nothing good, for I am a most wicked man, but please, please forgive me.”

I placed my hand over his heart and looked into his eyes, holding his gaze, and said to him, “My son, you are forgiven, go in peace and show love to the world. Show them the love I have shown you.”

He bowed at my feet, continuing to cry, and said, “Thank you my lord, this I will do all the days of my life,” and he helped me to my feet and walked the path to the cross with me.

—-

The words above flowed easily through me, channeled in a way I cannot fully comprehend, yet believe without even a shadow of a doubt. Each time I read them I cry tears when Aaron’s heart is changed and becomes alive again.

What a wonderful thing, to have your heart revived, to have your life changed, to want to share what you received with others, to give away your gift.

To me, this is the radiant message here. It is the redeeming nature of love. A free gift, available to everyone who chooses it.

That is what channeled through me and stays with me. I hope there is something here for you too.

Dementia’s Song

I’d like to share a very personal story with you, one that may resonate with your life experiences if you know someone with dementia.

No doubt this condition takes many routes. Some happen quite quickly. Others occur in a slow ebbing spiral, descending almost without notice, until one day the stark differences become painfully obvious.

It demands a very high emotional price, certainly from the one personally experiencing it, but also from those surrounding them. Watching the progression can be numbing, knowing there is so little that can be done.

Each person living through the changes must face their own emotional challenges, which of course are impacted by physical, mental, financial, and spiritual concerns.

I’m guessing that no two experiences are alike, but that there can be help and healing through sharing. That’s why I’m writing this post. I cannot know what assistance it may provide, but saying it here helps me and I hope it opens some doors for you.

Recently I awoke at 4:30 in the morning with a poem inside my mind, waiting for release, asking to be written. I hadn’t been expecting it, and yet it was there. So, I rose and wrote it down and felt a strong urge to put it into the world.

Here it is.

Dementia’s Song

I hope she knows me today.

My mother sits in her chair.

More than half faded from this life.

I cannot tell if she knows me.

And her stare gives nothing away.

I am left to wonder.

Is any part of her still here with me?

Once so sharp.

Now

With so few words.

Is there any promise for tomorrow

Or is that hope gone,

Like the sun winking out

At the end of the day

On the far horizon?

I wonder

Can I surrender

This fantasy inside of me

That I have any control

Over her staying?

I wonder too

Will her love remain

Here with me

When she finally leaves?

Perhaps that is for my heart to decide.

I want it to be so.

I hope she knows me today.

This was written after I’d visited my mom only to discover she didn’t seem to know me anymore. It left me fully disoriented, my world upside down. How could we have had such a good interactive conversation just the day before? Hours ago, that’s all, just a few hours.

I watch her trying to assemble words into sentences. The words will not come. They are like a skittish kitten hiding under a bed. The more you try to coax them to come out, the further they retreat from you.

Something obvious occurs to me.

I have no control. I cannot do anything to change this. I feel helpless.

And another thing occurs to me. Perhaps she feels the exact same way.

I wonder, how am I to deal with this?

A word shines brightly inside of me, grabbing my attention.

Acceptance.

It doesn’t mean I don’t try to help or be supportive, but it does mean I accept the reality we are experiencing. The wisdom inside this teaches me to accept all outcomes. It alerts me that my suffering is caused by my resistance to accept what is.

It is important for me to feel my feelings, to dive headlong into them, rather than trying to avoid them, even though I know it will be painful. By now, I know that it is far less painful to acknowledge my feelings, rather than a prolonged avoidance or resistance to letting them come into the light.

So, I will try to sit with no expectations and just be with her, accepting what each of us is experiencing and centering in love, as best as I can.

Not Accepting Shame

Are you familiar with the feeling of shame? Do you know where it comes from for you?

I wonder how often we can answer this question, because most of the time it just appears, unbidden.

I’ve begun to investigate some of the emotions that make me uncomfortable to see if unraveling them helps in letting them go. I’ve discovered several are insidious. They can’t always be traced back to a source. It’s also possible that they are buried so deeply that there is no thread to pull to start a healing process.

When I stop and think about ‘shame’, some obvious causes come to mind. As a child you are particularly vulnerable. You have so little power and so few defenses.

I distinctly remember having a finger pointed at me and being told that I should feel ashamed of myself. This brings up so much for me. To start with, the gesture of having a finger pointed directly at you is very threatening and is reinforced by the negative energetic force that flows through it.

And then, the implication that you ‘should’ (a word I’ve eliminated from my vocabulary because of its negative power), feel ashamed of ‘yourself’. To me, this indicates that you are supposed to obey your training and ‘know better’ and rather than having to be scolded by someone else, you should perform a self-scolding.

The idea here is that you’ve received enough scoldings that it is now your responsibility to monitor your behavior and to shame yourself.

I wonder who makes up all the rules that we feel we must abide by? And more concerning is what makes their version correct? Why are ‘they’ able to set standards of appropriate behavior, including the ones that regulate shame?

I looked up the dictionary definitions for shame, which can be used as a noun or a verb. The definitions split off in several directions, so I looked a little further and came across this.

“Shame can be defined as a feeling of embarrassment or humiliation that arises in relation to the perception of having done something dishonorable, immoral, or improper.”

Again, according to whom?

Is it not possible that you know when you’ve done something that hurt another and after thinking about, want to apologize and make amends? Are we not all capable of this on our own without having to suffer being shamed?

I believe shame is a weapon.

It is used by people to control others, to shape their responses and behavior and to force them to comply with arbitrary standards. I also believe it is used by weak people whose goals is to make themselves feel more powerful.

The purpose for shame is domination.

I believe there is great value in listening carefully to what others say, but also to what they do. Actions and words are very powerful. Paying attention provides opportunities to evaluate our own and other’s choices.

If we believe we have acted in a way that has created problems or hurt others, we can take corrective actions. That is up to us.

I don’t believe anyone ever has the right to hand another a dose of shame. And I believe we all have the right to reject it if it is given to us. Not accepting shame is a powerful tool in protecting your feelings from those who seek to control or dominate you.

I believe we all know the right course of action for ourselves and always have the ability to ask for help and guidance, when we don’t.

Losing Friends

Have you ever lost someone important to you?

Is there anyone who could say ‘no’ to this question? I cannot imagine this being the case, unless you are very, very young.

How can we cope with our sense of loss?

I realize everyone is different and no one approach will work for all, but I feel compelled to try to open some kind of door here. Certainly, for myself, but also for you, if that is something you desire.

Like many others, I have experienced a great deal of loss in my life. Some of it in dramatic fashion, some over prolonged time periods, some from a distance, some close up.

During a relatively short period of time, I lost my father, my best friend of forty years, my mother-in-law, two brothers-in-law, a great aunt and my daughter’s family boxer. All these beautiful, incredible beings passed from this life to another, through the arms of death.

Absorbing the emotional impact of these transitions was very challenging for me. I had to recognize this was the truth. I couldn’t hide from the pain or ignore it. I couldn’t rationalize that they were better off leaving their lives here. There was a kind of limbo inside of me that surrounded their passing. A suspended state, leaving me wondering about how we are all connected and whether the connection goes on, despite their physical absence.

I was attempting to find my way through this when another loss occurred. Even though not a brother by birth, I had a deep connection with another and called him my brother, and he died by his own hand. Gone in one second of time. Violent, tragic, and yet completely understandable to me, given his circumstances. In his death I recognized that any form of judgment muddies the water. You cannot know another’s path without being on it yourself.

I also discovered that not all loss is the result of physical death. Friendships die, even long-term ones. And they can be just as painful. All those years melting away into mere memories.

It is easy to become stuck in the sadness and sense of loss. And the pain often extends outward into other areas in your life, sometimes overwhelmingly so.

So, where did my struggles take me?

One direction led me to asking why any of us are here? Is it solely to experience our heart’s breaking?

I believe the truth is that we are not here to subtract from each other’s lives but to add to them.

I bolded that statement because it is that important. Those few words shifted something huge inside of me and offered me a question to ponder.

Who am I now, that they were in my life? What did we share? What did we offer each other?

I feel glory in my answers to these questions.

I feel an awareness of something real and tangible. A sense of beauty and depth and how my life is better, fuller, grander because of them.

I sense that parts of them are now parts of me and I can pass them on to others. Their lives then extend through me, becoming another part of the amazing tapestry that covers this world.

Whatever pain or suffering once existed, can be transformed, if I allow it. If I encourage it. If I embrace it.

If I open and let my feelings run through me and guide them, knowing ‘all is well with the world’, I become free and can remember clearly how beautiful every connection I’ve ever made truly is. All a part of the whole.

When I see my life through this lens I feel blessed.

Oil and Water

Have you ever heard anyone say, when referring to people who always fight and argue, “Oh, those two don’t get along at all, they’re like oil and water”?

It’s a common phenomenon. I’ve seen it happen many times and perhaps you have too. I’m pretty sure I’ve been part of this equation, sometimes consciously and sometimes without even being aware. There seem to be some people you run across in life who feel like your polar opposite.

It made me wonder how the expression came about. It turns out this one is based on scientific principles. Not to get too technical, but to give a frame of reference here’s a quick explanation.

I promise there is real, tangible value to understanding this principle, so please keep reading.

Water molecules are made up of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. The oxygen atom has a negative charge, while the hydrogen atoms carry positive charges. This allows water molecules to form very strong bonds with other water molecules and also gives them the ability to breakdown and dissolve other molecules, like sugars and salts, because of its polarity.

By contrast, oil molecules are nonpolar and are referred to as hydrophobic, meaning they are “water fearing”. Instead of being attracted to water molecules, they are repelled by them. As a result, if you combine oil and water the two separate, with the lighter oil molecules floating on top of the heavier water molecules.

One vivid example of this principle may be seen when there are puddles in the street and a car leaks some oil into them causing an oily film to stretch across the surface of the water. Although it may appear quite beautiful, it creates difficulties to properly clean up…think monstrous sea-going oil tanker with a crack in the hull, flooding the ocean with thousands of gallons of oil.

Can anything be done about this? Yes. When detergent is added to oil and water it helps to break up the surface tension between them and allows the detergent molecules to bind to both the water and the oil molecules.

Science lesson over.

Remarkable when you think about it.

But why all this talk about molecules?

Here’s why. Consider the polarity of other entities. I’m sure you can come up with many of your own, but here’s a few to get you started: ecologist and big business, two countries or gangs fighting over disputed territories, two religious communities arguing about which can claim spiritual superiority, or two political parties failing to see the bigger picture.

The list of examples we could come up with is no doubt voluminous.

As I thought about these polarities, surprisingly I began wondering about ‘detergents’ and what role they could play. Not the detergents used to clean dishes, but rather acts of openness and compromise that could be used to bind both sides together and aid in resolving conflicts and finding common ground.

I confess I am a dreamer.

I see what happens when one side ignores the other and how it fosters added hard feelings. I witness how blind faith builds fences and boundaries to be protected.

I’m not saying this as if I am exempt. I’m not. But seeing this from the direction of oil and water and detergent speaks to me. It offers me an insight and a way forward.

What if, instead of seeing polarity we added some detergent to the mix (listening skills, opening to the bigger picture, compromising, agreeing that we want the best for the next generation, caring, a bit of generosity, compassion and empathy).

What might that look like? How might that feel? What difference might that make?

I wonder about these things every time I pour some detergent into the sink and wash the dishes and I remind myself to do my best to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

What If There Were No Mirrors

I was struck by this question recently. What if there were no mirrors?

I’m guessing that we could still see ourselves in other surfaces like water or shiny metal objects, but the essence of the question was more about not being able to see our reflection at all.

Some practical things popped into my head. It would be pretty hard to comb your hair, shave your face, put on makeup, or fish an eyelash out of your eye, if you couldn’t stare at your reflection.

Then there were some other considerations. You couldn’t check to see if your tie was straight, if your clothes were on just the way you wanted them to be or…well, you get the picture.

And as important as these things might be at times, there was something much deeper in the question.

What do we think when we see ourselves in the mirror?

If you chose to answer that question right now, what would you say? Would it be a physical description that you gave or something more meaningful?

Can you look at yourself in the mirror for any length of time, say two minutes or would that be too uncomfortable?

How much judgement jumps into your thoughts when you see yourself in the mirror? Too old, too young, too tired looking?

Do you hear others voices in your mind when you catch a glimpse of yourself? Voices you would prefer not to hear.

It seems doubtful to me that we are all comfortable staring at our reflections and that it’s reasonable to think we’d see something we’d like to change about our appearance.

So, what if there were no mirrors, would that change this dynamic? Would we be willing to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and be satisfied with how we ‘think’ we look?

The funny thing is, we can do that now.

We can ignore any of the critical thoughts and judgements we place upon ourselves and those that others pass along to us. It may not be easy to let go of these recurring patterns, but it is possible. Not only that, it’s also very beneficial.

I attended a workshop once where the presenter asked each of us to stare into a mirror, and while looking deeply into our eyes, say “I love you” to our reflection. When asked how we felt about this exercise, each of us reported that we felt very uncomfortable.

Why?

That’s an important and eye-opening question to attempt to answer. It’s entirely likely that our answers would vary, but perhaps one reason is because we’ve become so conditioned to accepting our faults and failings, which are often reinforced by others, that we don’t acknowledge our innate goodness.

Sometimes we may think that we have do everything perfectly in order to be loved, by others and by ourselves. It makes me wonder if looking at our reflection in the mirror brings this to mind.

So, let’s pretend for a minute that there are no more mirrors. You’ll have no direct way to see yourself except through your own inner reflection.

To me, that’s an intriguing thought. It shifts focus from outward appearances to inner ones. What do we value about ourselves? What kind or compassionate acts define us? Who do we intend to be in this world? Are we centered in love?

And it gives us an opportunity to decide what sort of reflection we want the world to see.

I’m going to try to remember this the next time I see myself in the mirror.