This morning I got up early and walked the dogs through Fort Greene Park and it was beautiful out. I ran into an old friend who I haven't seen in awhile and we talked about our kids, what they were doing. One of her daughters just got married, her son is a musician touring in Europe. And then the conversation turned to parents, in-laws. Her husband is on a plane this morning to Florida, where he will have to talk to his father about moving his mother, who is blind and has dementia, to a full-care facility. The cost of having full-time aides is more than they can afford, but the father is not going to want to move his wife and it's going to be difficult. I told her that Steve's dad had just died and about my mother, who's still hanging in there. And it became quite a depressing conversation, about getting old and dying and I better stop right here before you get depressed too.
So I came back feeling very bad. My headache's back, I made my little cup of tea, I wanted to try to escape these feelings and I needed something to read or do - so I sat down in my mediation spot and I picked up "When Things Fall Apart" - Pema Chodron again and this is what I read:
"Ye tang che means totally tired out. We night say 'totally fed up.' It describes the feeling of complete hopelessness, of completely giving up hope. This is an important point. This is the beginning of the beginning. Without giving up hope - that there's something better to be, that there's someone better to be - we will never relax with where we are or who we are."
I thought that was interesting but I wasn't sold. I had to read the entire chapter for it to make any sense. It has to do with the fear of death, that that is what we ultimately all fear. That's true, I guess - who isn't afraid of death? And then towards the end of the chapter:
"Relaxing with the present moment, relaxing with hopelessness, relaxing with death, not resisting the fact that things end, that things pass, that things have no lasting substance, that everything is changing all the time - that is the basic message."
So then I sat for my meditation, not for too long, and as I was sitting and breathing, I could feel myself relaxing with the feelings. Not fighting them. Not resisting, literally sinking into them. The headache is a bit better too.