I’ve written it here many times… I’m a planner. I like to know what to expect. I like to know the outcome. I like to know if the effort I’m expending is going to pay-off in the end — I like to know. I don’t think this necessarily makes me a bad person or makes me difficult to be around or makes me less of a friend, I hope not anyway. I’ve been afraid of uncertainty and been sitting on the bleachers instead of dancing in the moment — all because I want to know what others don’t want to reveal. Then a couple of things happened in a very short time — most of which I won’t tell you about (unless I have your phone number). But I will share this quote that recently crossed my path:
Don’t seek, don’t search, don’t ask, don’t knock, don’t demand — relax. If you relax, it comes. If you relax, it is there. ~~ Osho
My inability to follow this quote has made for some troublesome twists in my journey. But, recently I decided to “set myself on fire” and I think, for me, one of the things that means is letting go of my constant need to know, to demand, to knock impatiently. I’ve learned a moment can change everything — if we allow the moment to unfold — unguided, just as it should.
I was waiting in line to pick my daughter and her friend up from high school recently. This is usually a time of solitude (even if only for a few minutes). I was checking email on my phone and singing along to my favorite songs — not paying any attention to the hordes of kids around me… finding their way to their cars and their rides and loading the buses. I was startled by a rapping on my window. I looked up to see a boy standing there speaking to me. “Can I ask you a question?”, he said. I rolled the window down and was even more surprised when he asked if he could get a ride home — of course I said yes, so in he came. I told him my name and he told me his, “Jonathan” we’ll say. He explained to me where he lived and how appreciative of me he was. Then an awkward silence filled my car and I began formulating his story in my head. How sad, I thought, that this kid had to ask a complete stranger waiting in a line at his school for a ride home. How sad, I thought, that he didn’t have friends he could have bummed a ride with. How sad, I thought… he must be so sad.
As I moved up in line and saw my daughter approach the car, we exchanged nervous glances and I gave her a “please don’t make a big deal about this kid in the car” look as I introduced her to “Jonathan”. She and her friend immediately started talking to him and, in fact, knew who he was (score one for self-confident 14 year-old girls). So, off we went.
We all started our normal conversations… I asked my daughter about her lunch account at school, did she have enough money, did she put the money I gave her on her account or in her pocket? I caught “Jonathan’s” gaze in my rear view mirror. He said he wished his parents would give him lunch money — my heart sank. As we got closer to his home, he became agitated and anxious — breathing hard and fumbling for his books. Again, my heart sank. When he exited my car he stopped and asked me if he needed his parents to sign him up for a bank account or could he do it by himself — he recently got a job and would be getting a paycheck. At 17, I told him, I thought he was old enough. And “Jonathan” was gone. I immediately asked for the whole story from my daughter and her friend. The tale they spun made me angry and sad and it made me hurt for a boy I didn’t know.
My father died on a Saturday. Early that morning I found myself alone in his hospital room — just the two of us. For the last 5 days, he had been in that hospice room — it was small and cramped and there were many of us who wanted to be there. We had been asking to be moved to the coveted “big” room directly across the hall so when a nurse came in and said we could finally have the room, I was elated. Everyone would be so proud of me when they returned to see that I had scored the “big” room. The nurse said she would change my father’s position in his bed first then we could wheel him across the hall. She looked at him and then at me and asked how long he had been in that position. I hadn’t thought about it until then, but it had been more than a day since we had changed his position. She looked at me again and said I should decide what to do about rotating him. I didn’t understand. She explained that, often, when people are near the end of their life as my father was, any movement could trigger his body to finally give up.
I told her he was fine.
I told her not to touch him.
I told her he looked very comfortable.
I would have let him stay in that position for many months and years to come — just to have him a bit longer. He passed away about 8 hours later — 8 more hours I had to hold his hand.
I feel sorry for “Jonathan’s” father. He doesn’t understand that he could be the one to tell the nurse to leave him alone. He doesn’t understand that he could be the one who wants just 8 more hours. He doesn’t understand the joys and responsibilities of being “Jonathan’s” father.
I think “Jonathan” is dancing in the moment and not dwelling. I think he’s not worried about searching and demanding and seeking — I think he’s not asking… he’s just doing. I’ll be looking for “Jonathan” the next time I pick my daughter up — I hope he sneaks up and taps on my window, I’d like to talk with him some more… because a moment can change everything.