As I’ve navigated this past few weeks, I’ve noticed that life for me has made a major shift.
As long as I can remember, I’ve had people in my life that are two-legged, four-legged, furry, finned, and/or feathered.
As an adult, I’ve always had someone to take care of: to feed, to clothe, to brush, to carry from place to place, to monitor in some fashion.
Now I have no one but me. No one that needs to be fed. No one that needs a drink of water. No one that needs to go outside. No one I need to check in with. No one who wants to do something different than what I’m doing. No one. No one. Just me.
Wow. What a change of perspective for me and my life.
I’m guessing a lot of people get this chance when they’re younger and go off to college after high school. Or go on a walk-about. Or join the military. Or just leave their parents' home and head out on their own. I didn't do any of those things. I went straight from graduating high school in early 1970 to pregnant and married. Yes, in that order. And in the ensuing forty-plus years, I’ve had someone next to me that needed attention. The faces have changed but the responsibility hasn’t.
Now it’s just me.
I haven’t known how to act. Do I still get up in the morning? Go to bed at night? Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner? Go out to a movie? Spend time with friends? Get my car serviced? Yes, yes, and yes.
In these past weeks, I feel like I’ve been operating on auto-pilot. I get up every morning. Kind of. I “do my day.” Kind of. I eat food. Kind of. I go to bed at night. Kind of. I repeat it all the next day with little variations like seeing people and going places.
I’m learning to “do life” in a different way. I’m learning to listen to what the voice in my head (heart!) says to do, do for me, at any given moment. I’m learning about me. About me without anyone else around. Anyone, that is, that needs me to somehow take care of them. I still have people around me but I can choose to be with them or not. It's a different kind of thing.
I still reach down thinking Dinah is sitting there needing a pet on the head and I still look for her when I’m outside and I still try to drive my grocery cart down the dog food aisle.
Today, all of this is just fine with me. I’m in no rush to “fix things” or to hurry up the process or to get on with it, whatever it is. As long as life is moving forward, I’m good with it. It’s a new direction for me so I’m experiencing all that this life thing has to give me, all it has to offer.
"As adults, we begin to cultivate a sense of loving-kindness for ourselves—by ourselves, for ourselves. The whole process of meditation is one of creating that good ground, that cradle of loving-kindness where we actually are nurtured. What’s being nurtured is our confidence in our own wisdom, our own health, and our own courage, our own goodheartedness. We develop some sense that the way we are—the kind of personality that we have and the way we express life—is good, and that by being who we are completely and by totally accepting that and having respect for ourselves, we are standing on the ground of warriorship." ~ Pema Chödrön