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content to just be

content to just be

by Andrea
January 28, 2013

In a recent conversation I was having with someone, I was sharing my experience of writing this blog, its purpose and meaning in my life. I found myself saying things that I didn't even realize I knew. That happens a lot when speaking with someone who is truly interested. They pull things out of you that you don't realize are even inside. Once out, it's like you always knew it—but not until that moment. 

Blogging is like that too. In writing this blog, I never know what I’m going to write. I simply put my attention on a point, which could be a thought, a memory, an experience—and then let go into that point. From spending time with a simple point, which takes intention, discipline and commitment, these posts arise. They are as new for me as they are for people reading them for the first time. I never even know if they’re any good or have value—not until someone else reflects that back to me. 

In the conversation I mentioned above, the beginning point was about how so many of us are afraid of getting old and don’t like the idea of it. Then I told him that by spending time with my mother, I am discovering that I am becoming less and less afraid of getting old myself. It’s not like I can’t wait to get old. No. But I’m just less afraid. As we went further into this, we spoke about the assumption in our culture that getting old is hard, painful and not something to look forward to. All these negatives. So when I mentioned the joy I feel with my mother, that concept was almost out of place. It was like a secret. So many negatives that a positive seemed so strange. It's certainly not untrue that getting old is difficult, and I would be foolish to pretend otherwise. I've seen my mother go through tremendous hardships and difficulties as she's aged. But this joy is also real. No matter what the hardships, this joy has remained intact. In fact, it seems that she has become sweeter through weathering some rough storms. She is not so interested in the things that don’t matter anymore. She doesn’t worry so much anymore. She is less neurotic and anxious. She is, in fact, content. Content just to be.

So when I am with my mother, this is what I delight in. I mean that. I’m not just a goody-two-shoes daughter who feels obliged to take care of her aging mother. The truth is I love to be with her. She offers a space to be content in a way that few others can. We don’t have to do much. We don’t even have to talk a lot. We can sit quietly, perfectly happy to be together. And sometimes things come out of her that surprise me a lot. Sometimes the wisdom of her years come out and puts everything in perspective. Things I never knew she knew. Things she probably didn’t realize she knew before she said it. Things that wouldn’t have come out if we weren’t spending simple time together. In moments like this, it’s like seeing your child walk or ride a bike for the first time. You will always be glad that you were there and didn't miss it. 

So yes, over these years I've become an advocate of spending time with elderly parents (or elderly people who are not our parents). Not so much because it is the right thing to do (which it is) but more because of those moments that we don't want to miss. Those moments where something we never could have expected just might emerge—and change our life in ways we never could have predicted. 

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