Monday, August 20, 2012

What To Teach?

There are moments in life when transition is in the air.  I've been feeling the changes...witnessing the changes.  I've been having a feeling that there is something I've learned.  Something that's hard to put my finger on and even more difficult to explain...but I'll try!

So often in life, we are attached to the outcome.  Said outcome will prove that the steps I took were right and vice-verse.  We look for certain things in our world to justify our perspective...very natural and a tremendous waste of time. 

Lately, instead, I have noticed a change in my way of doing things.  Instead of being aware of the plan and the goal, I have just been aware of what I know and what makes sense.  As a little gift, I have also been aware of some beautiful tweaks in what I teach.

When I say "teach" I immediately think of my kids.  Then I think of the kids I work with.  They are included in my definition of "teach" (for sure!), but I mean it more broadly.  I'm pointing to the fact that we all move through life and in our little choices we are teaching those around us.  We are connecting in certain ways because of what we are teaching those who experience us.  We are not trying to do this, but it is the most natural thing!  The way we make sense of things (via our thinking) determines what we share...or teach.
A couple of examples...

Without trying to, in the last few weeks I visited both a cemetery & a memorial site with my kids.  Sounds awful.  You may even question my parenting skills.  If you can put that personal thinking aside, you may here something else.
While in my home town a few weeks ago I took my kids to the baseball field.  This was done with intention, because 15 years earlier I had made a plaque and mounted it on one of the benches in memory of my dear high school friend.  He had committed suicide not many years after graduation...he was also a baseball player & later a coach. 
My daughter, who is older, was concerned at first that I would be sad, but that was not at all the turn of events.  As I sat on the bench...rubbing the plaque gently...I felt peaceful.  My children were playing...laughing.  I spoke to him without words as I sat there smiling and just feeling like you would feel when in the company of an old friend.  I didn't let my personal thinking interfere once.

As we went back to the car, we were all hugging and skipping down the lane.  Later that night my son asked if we could go back to the baseball field.  My daughter said that she loved watching me sit on the bench, because I looked so happy.  What did I choose to teach my kids in that moment?  What direction did my choices point them in?
Consider that while I share the second scenario involving a cemetery.  I lost a friend/client last year suddenly.  She was only 17 and had a seizure.  It was an awful shock as you can imagine.  I had been putting off a visit to her grave, but one morning the time felt right. 

My son was in camp, and my daughter wanted to come with me.  At first I didn't think that was appropriate, but then I paused and realized that it sounded very sweet.  My young friend had loved children & had asked a lot about my daughter.  I again dropped my personal thinking and felt my way through. 

When we got to the cemetery we realized there was no tombstone for her yet, because it was such a new burial.  I didn't know how we would find it, but the coolest thing happened.  My daughter felt strongly about which direction it was in.  "Near that little tree" she said.  Of course, she was right.  When we got closer we saw that someone had made a heart out of stones on her plot.  Such a tear jerking scene, and you can bet that I cried.
The surprise is the kind of cry I had.  No sound, just a stream of tears.  It felt like there was so much sadness in this spot.  Yet from inside of myself I felt an out-poor of love.  The tears were not stopping.  I just felt connected to her so strongly...I suddenly knew so much more.  It was powerful...stirring.  All the while, my daughter gathered flowers from the grass, sprinkling them carefully around her plot.  We listened to the birds and hugged a lot.  As we left, another man was leaving as well.  We shared a smile that can't be explained by any other word than mystical.  It was all not what I would have imagined, but was perfect in every way.
As we drove home, I checked in with my daughter.  Did my crying worry or upset you?  Was that weird?  Are you okay?  She smiled and sighed saying, "I want to come next time too, and let's bring some nail polish to paint one of those stones."  There was nothing in our experience or her response that mimicked all of the things we typically associate with death and cemetery visits.  We had, thankfully, done it our way, and we were rewarded instantly by the feeling of the whole day.

When I reflected I was trying to figure out just exactly what I had learned...I realized that it was not what I had learned, it was what I had taught.  The thing my kids are witnessing and learning about death and loss have very much to do with a connection that is not broken when our physicality becomes threatened.  My perspective of deaths has changed so much that without noticing, I have provided them with a different view.
My son, who is seven, has asked me some questions about death recently.  Age appropriate, and on the heals of our cat dying last winter.  It's a scary thing to answer honestly when a child wants to know if you'll die before him.  I don't know...we don't that's scary!  The thing is that I actually had some answers that feel genuine.

How can I put this simply?...If I know that we are all a part of something bigger than us, then I also know that when our body gives out that is all that happens.  This life energy that we all have access to is the stuff that our personal connections are made of.  It's the thing that we feel on the inside about a person whether or not our five senses are experiencing them at that moment. 

Now granted, death and loss are sad.  Saying goodbye to experiencing someone the way you are used to is painful and regretful.  What I'm saying is that when I tell my son that "Even when one of us dies, we will always be connected", I am telling the truth.  We are all so blessed to have these gifts of thinking, awareness & wisdom.  All we must do to connect with someone is to come into a space where personal thinking is stilled and we can hear/feel what's in our heart.  This is where you find everyone whom you've cherished, and this place is untouchable...not even grief, loss or death can take it away. 

Being able to teach this to my kids, because I know it as truth, has been more than I've wished to impart.  It is so important in life to take a moment as transitions and changes occur and notice what you're putting out there.  There's a lot to be proud of, and there is a lot of proof to what you've been teaching. 

1 comment:

  1. What you have passed on to your children is priceless... I feel our society tends to hide our feelings about death from children in many ways. We are so "youth oriented" in marketing, media and culturally. Death and dying are almost taboo subjects in many homes. In other cultures outside of the US, the rituals around death are more comforting and natural. Your children are fortunate to have you as their Mom...