[Originally written 2 months ago, prior to my Chow Chows death]
I wish upon a star tonight
Wish as I may, I am fully aware that wishes do not come true. But how very often do we all use this word because we have a desire for things to be different from what they are.
This morning as I sat to begin my meditation practice, in typical fashion my 15-year-old Chow Chow began her process of lying down next to me. With severe arthritis, a broken bone in her back leg, and a giant tumor on her belly, the process of laying down cause her excruciating pain. She screams, moans and cries until she can slowly and painfully get her entire body down on the floor. Every day as this takes place, I can feel my heart ache and my whole body become so tense. And while I try to have compassion and not empathy, it is clear that I am suffering with her.
As I continue, and send loving kindness to each of my Family members, I have an additional thoughts in my blessing that she may be free of such terrible physical pains. And while I do this every day, it is abundantly clear that her pains and suffering have not diminished. But today was different from all of the past days. Today I became aware that I am actually making a wish for her. And immediately I saw that once again my sweet little Chow Chow was my teacher. To wish her to be free of suffering is the same as wishing myself to be free of suffering. My body is decaying the same as hers, and the aches and pains of old age will only continue as long as I live. With the only wise avenue being the acceptance of this reality.
If we can all just see this life the way it is, we can begin to understand and accept all things just as they are without condition. No attachment to the pleasant arisings nor aversion to the distasteful. And with this awareness, and arising of gratitude begins to grow. Grateful for this life and these experiences that being human allows us. Both in the aches and pains, laughter and smiles, it’s all the life. And how very quickly most of us can forget to be grateful when things do not go our way. When we are sick or tired or lose a loved one, the sadness can easily overwhelm us and cause a blindness to the gift of this life.
While I would like to say that I am always filled with gratitude and awareness, I too fall pray to the ignorance of forgetting how this life works. Believe me, my recent trip to the emergency room was anything but a blissful experience. I was focusing on the breath, and aware of the nature of this life, but I do not think I possessed even a tiny bit of gratitude that evening. But with a gentle determination, I learn a little more with each passing day and each experience. I will let you know how this works for me the next time I encounter a momentous event. Until then I remain focused on what is and not what I wish for. And at least in this present moment, I am grateful.