I hear fire engines roaring through the valley where I live. I feel the sense of survival rush through my body and privately hope the rescue crew gets to whoever needs them in time. I send my ritual blessing into the ethers and then randomly wonder why sometimes it takes a crisis for us to wake up, to really Carpe Diem. Then I look around at my desk, which today looks more like a kid’s cubby, at all the paraphernalia that collectively say what is most important to me. The contrasting thoughts seem significant. A representation of what I love most, what is of ultimate importance is right in front of me; love letters, notes and cards given to me by family and friends, numerous pictures of the people I cherish, a heart-shaped dish filled with angel cards, a blessing medallion blessed by Mother Theresa, my pocket astrologer, a child’s rosary, a crystal angel, a mini-Buddha and some chocolates. Still, like today, I can easily look right through it all, losing my focus on what’s most dear, and wander off my path. The difference is, today those dramatic wake-up sirens come less frequently due to my vigilant pursuit and strong desire to stay awake. I am so grateful.
It wasn’t always the case, which is probably why it feels so jarring, so personal, when I hear the eerily familiar screech. I know what it feels like to have those gargantuan, unwanted interruptions forcing me to depart from my comfortable cocoon of “business as usual, chop wood carry water” slumber to what’s most important—always ultimately reminding me of how fragile and precious life is. Each instance offering an unmistakable, clarity, highlighting what’s most important, if only temporarily.
However intermittent, overall each one of my own “wake up” calls has ultimately changed the way I live my life, and are now benchmarks and guideposts for how and why to stay awake on my own path. For example, if lower back pain flares it’s a reminder for me to slow down today instead of a reason to kvetch or feel sorry for myself or think, Oh, I am getting older. When something I want to happen doesn’t, I say “Ok, this or something better is coming,” vs. feeling incompetent or that I have done something wrong or God is punishing me. When my son gets into a bind I can think How can I support him and help him ultimately figure things out for himself so he can trust himself? rather than thinking I am a bad parent or have failed in some way. When my father died suddenly from a heart attack at age 63 I realized that I don’t ever have to put off loving someone, no matter what they have done to me, rather than waiting for them to wake up and see the light (as I, unfortunately for us both, did—hoping to punish him for not loving me the way I wanted him to).
I sometimes wish it was easier to stay awake and present to what is most important, and that I didn’t have to re-apply every day. Bummer I didn’t get consulted when man was created! Seems it is part of the human condition. Which reminds me of a Zen story. All the masters of all time get together to decide on where to hide the Key of Life. One master says, “I know; the highest mountain top in the world.” “Oh no, no, they will surely look there.” Another says “I know, on the ocean floor!” “Oh no, no, they will certainly find it there.” Finally, after exhausting every clever idea, one master stands and says, “I know of a place these humans will never ever look—inside themselves,” and so they agreed to place the key there. And so it is. Until next time. Blessings!