I woke up from a very sad dream this morning that felt overwhelming. The recurrent theme was about loss and how final it is, given the parameters of this life as I understand it when I get into the kind of mood the dream fostered. The loss was deep, grabbing your heart and making it sit unmoving in a very dark place. I thought of my brother, my mother, and the three dogs; all of whom I’ve lost to death in recent years. Yes, death is final.
I thought of things that are equally final, like the end of a marriage, even though the person to whom I was married for thirty years is still alive. I thought of meaningful friendships that have passed away, and the once important people with whom I no longer have any contact. Family relationships have shifted and changed, too. My children have grown up and are moving on. The latter might be positive, the way it is supposed to be, but I can wallow in that loss.
Truth be known, this is a dreary place to be, especially just as the sun is coming up.
I didn’t get out of it right away. I went and sat in my meditation room. I wasn’t going to overcome this mental space with meditation, I thought. I turned on the music and got out my pen and notebook. I decided to write a letter to God. “Help me, please.” I wrote. “Be my friend.”
I asked for a miracle. “Give me a great purpose.” I begged. “Let me relieve the suffering of the world.” The miracle for me is to move on, to get out of that black spot. It felt so big that only something big would fish me out of my own well of darkness.
“Z-z-z-z-t-t!” went my phone. “Z-z-z-z-t-t” it went again. “Meet you at 6:30?” said the text. My friend was asking me to come to the gym to workout. I would have to hustle to change into my gym clothes and get to the rec center on time. I threw the notebook on the floor. I couldn’t find my water bottle. I forgot where I’d put my sneakers. I got to our meeting place in the parking lot on time, though.
My friend is a personal trainer, though we meet as friends, not for a training session. She makes me do the cardio I hate, just because it’s good for me. Sometimes she relents and I can do less than the twenty minutes she herself does. Today I tried a new machine. “Uh-oh.” I thought. “I kind of liked that one.”
We lift weights, the part I like. She’s a good friend, we can talk about anything. We talked about raising fees for our work. Self worth is a good thing. It drums up business. Attitude really does matter. “See?” she said. “It’s ok to make money.”
I drove home in the glory of a summer morning. It’s not too hot yet. There’s a breeze. The farms are lush with crops. A couple of the irrigation systems are throwing out silver streams of water as I pass. The mountains are purple and gray and green off to the west, blue sky and white clouds above. The air smells fresh.
I eat a bowl of cut up berries and cereal in cold almond milk. It is delicious. My little yellow dog sits at my feet and begs for fruit. He wags his tail to attract my attention and gobbles what I give him with hardly a touch of his white teeth on the strawberry.
I take the dog out for a walk and stand in the breeze and the bright light. It is a perfect temperature. I find I have the patience to let him sniff every blade of grass, every yellow dandelion flower, every tree trunk, every stone that holds his attention. I realize somewhere along the line my mood has changed.
The streets are still damp here and there by the curbs where sprinklers have been running. Birds are chirping in the trees. Even the dog has his lips pulled back as he trots along and his curled tongue rises almost to his nose. I am happy to be alive. Loss? What loss? I am filled with what is all around me.
I found the “great purpose” I asked for in my earlier letter to Creator. It is simply to be present. To be aware. I get out of myself by paying attention to the simplest of things. The sunlight, the wagging tail of the dog, the sound of the breeze in the leaves of the trees; all are there whether I see them or not. Gifts await my taking. The darkness begins to brighten. It fades to meet the day.
I think I’ll unwrap another gift. A little girl comes to pat my dog. He licks her hand. What is the “truth,” anyway? Who cares?