the speed of slowing down

“we must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
-joseph campbell

isn’t there a book called When Things Fall Apart? um, yeah. i’ve read it, more than once. and it’s good. written by my hero Pema Chodron. i think i need it again. maybe a pocket size version of it. “this is it, man.” this is what i always think in the moment, that this is it. the final straw that bends me to my knees sucking in wind with big choking sobs. “it’s the big one” he’d say as he clutched his chest on reruns of sanford and son. then the laugh track kicked in.

but no. it’s not. it feels like it sometimes, more often than not these days. but it’s not. life is simply a series of big ones. which make nothing too big at all when you look at it with space.

you’re stronger than you know. stronger than you give yourself credit for. siblings remind me of this, my story. the story that is so much a part of me i can’t see it for what it is. 18 years ago i was 18. i was this story then as well. somethings never change. and when that ‘something’ is strength and spirit? that’s a damn good thing.

my mother eats in silence. hand shakily moving a fork across time and space and dementia to reach her old lady mouth. this is not her mouth. i smile at the face of this. this angel baby that is my mother. she is my mother no longer and i’ll never be her baby again. i smile at the face of this because there’s nothing else to do. i am here. right now. i am happy to be here. i tell her this and she stares at me. she stares as if reaching desperately into the confines of her mind to conjure up something anything that resembles who this woman is, me, sitting infront of her smiling. i hope that she is reaching desperately into that abyss but i know well enough that she is just staring at my face. human to human. i am nothing more than the woman who says “hi momma” i am the woman who kisses her on the lips and she questions nothing. you can fight this, you can cry and beg and plead. or you can simply accept it. and so i smile with nothing but love.

i look forward at the others. all lost in their minds. i sit with them and listen to their stories, they fill the silence that my mother brings. a woman sat across from me at the table, “you’re so pretty and at ease.” she (this stranger) says it as a matter of fact. she says it to me while i watch my mother eat. this stranger has never seen me before in her life and right now i am simply another customer in this restaurant in her mind enjoying a fine meal in this establishment back in time 1958. i wonder about this. this statement spit from the mouth of dementia.

this is only my face. when faced with something larger than me, i slow down. W A Y  D O W N. slow down to a crawl if you need to but you cannot lay down here, meredith. you cannot lay down here in the snow or you’ll freeze to death, so you simply slow your step. breathe in the cold air, breathe it into your lungs even though it pains you. one step and then another. look up at the moon and watch your breath spill out across the night sky.

one step infront of the other and before you know it, you climbed that fucking mountain. one breath at a time. sure the buzzing is inside you, but it dissipates eventually when you make peace with each outward breath. and your face, this face she sees now, is at ease.

when you face death you must look directly at it. unflinching. welcome it, even. breathe it in, holding your breath will get you nowhere. remember that you’ve got nothing to hide. and nothing but love to give. when it’s time to move on, do so with peace in your heart. that love you carry? it travels with you no matter where you go.