Today I did what everyone says not to do. It is one month until Halloween, and I bought a Halloween dress that is so tight that dancing will not be an option for me on Halloween. Neither will breathing. At least, not if it fits me that night the way if it fits me now.
Why did I do this? Because I’m doing everything differently, and it feels right to mix up the sleepy patterns. So as I tear through my house Marie Kondo style, getting rid of things of all sorts, as explained in Letting Go of What No Longer Serves Us, and as I have started a massive six-week fitness challenge wherein everybody on average in it is, say, about half my age, as explained in The Body as Practice, why not?
Why not throw out conventional wisdom in cases in which it has done absolutely nothing to serve me? People do this all the time when they’re on the verge of dying, or have been diagnosed with a tragic illness.
But why wait?
Part of what helps me forge ahead with vision-ful and radical transformation is my youngest son, who has cerebral palsy, such a dramatic case that he will never walk, never talk, never hold a job, never go to college, never do any of the things that so many of us hold as natural birth rights.
No first dance. No first kiss. He will never drive a car, cook a meal, none of it. All of his needs must be met by someone other than himself.
And yet, he lets go into this so beautifully, so peacefully, and with such utter trust in me and in those who care for him, that how can I do anything but be inspired?
Early on, it was all I could do to take care of him.
I didn’t take much time, as a single mom, to absorb all he had to teach me. Instead, I was in triage mode, just trying to make it through the day, and I now realize that I have spent a great deal of my life there. I believe that many of us do, even those who have experienced lesser challenges than I.
But really, we have all faced challenges that someone else would find impossible to even imagine.
And yet here we are.
He is 16 years old, inching toward the end of his life expectancy, by some estimations, well beyond it, and I don’t know how much longer he will be here.
I want to treasure every moment with him.
But I also want to treasure every moment, period.
I challenge you to do the same. I challenge all of us to do the same. While some enlightened masters choose when and how to leave their bodies, most of us have no idea. I certainly thought of this on September 11, 2001. It has haunted me ever since that day: how many people left that morning angry with a loved one, perhaps even slamming the door on the way out? How many made a cutting or angry remark on the way out the door about some small thing? How many left so many important things undone: that phone call to an aging relative, the child’s project that had been wanting attention, a special trip that was on the “someday” list.
Probably all of them.
Many wise people have said that we must live in the moment, that we must not wait to enjoy our lives, but so many of us get caught up in paying the bills and returning to our old patterns of the way things have been done all along, the deep grooves that were sometimes created by generations upon generations before us. And we forget, we regress to the mean, but what if we woke up each day and begin the day with full awareness of its beauty, its gift?
What does this have to do with the Halloween dress? Simply this. I had not been paying attention after a sports injury, and over time, my body started to change, grow less strong, less lean.
I could let it. That would be fine. For some, that is exactly where they need to be, letting go of striving for an unattainable physical perfection, or of never accepting themselves as they are.
But for me, I want to do everything I do with awareness, this is my mission, so now, I am eating with awareness. I am aware of my body, and I want it to be strong. I always want to be able to lift my son, who cannot lift himself. So there hangs the wild, tight, no doubt age inappropriate Halloween dress.
To hell with someday.