Spending time with my mother who was recently diagnosed with cerebral atrophy is an enlightening experience. It is an honour to be with anyone who is in such a vulnerable state. My father is having a terrible time, as well. He suffers from debilitating back and leg pain (not to mention emotional trauma over watching his beloved partner of 60 years fade away). I have gained much from their candour and disclosure of present challenges. Most importantly, my mother’s condition reminds me that we are not our physical bodies, which includes our minds and even our personalities… If we are not who we think we are, who are we? Or rather, what are we? The energy of the mind and the dream of this world have enormous momentum that feels almost impossible to be free of. There is something beyond our confusion though. Imagine if we were always aligned with divine truth. “See what is,” Alan Watts instructs. It’s so simple, right?
This photo of Dad and Mom is bitter-sweet. I wanted to capture them in a flattering light. In truth, however, they smile infrequently now. Many tears of sorrow and frustration have been shed. I think of my mother as being in a type of cocoon. When she emerges at last—glittery and glorious—her smile will be genuine and bright! It is heartbreaking to witness someone you love suffering dreadfully. Yet, all too often, this is exactly what we are expected to do.
I am deeply grateful to both my parents for their love, courage, and hard work. They have given much—not only to support their large family, but to the community through many years of volunteer work. Perhaps the closest thing that conveys what we truly are is touchingly expressed in the children’s book The Giving Tree—to give altruistically until we are physically no more. For now, our gentleness and generosity toward each other, and all living things, is vital. In fact, it may be all that truly matters.