Thursday, November 26, 2009

A nostalgic heart

Being one of those people to whom nostalgia comes easily, I frequently struggle with not clinging to the past. The practice of Aparigraha allows me to raise my awareness of this and to work toward being present each moment here and now. Holidays seem especially challenging for me in this practice.

As I reflect this Thanksgiving morning on all the blessings of my life, my heart is both full and saddened. I have so much for which to be thankful and yet part of me longs for those Thanksgivings of old. So many precious memories of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, foods, afternoon naps, football games, loud rounds of cards, and most of all laughter and joy. Nothing was every perfect, but it is so sweet to soften those edges of memory by letting go of the imperfections.

And as I write, the big ah-ha moment comes...the non-clinging, aparigraha, has to do with both the good and the bad. I so often think of it only as clinging to what I want, forgetting that forgiveness and letting go of difficult times is a vital part of the practice. By not holding on to the hurt, we allow old wounds heal making room in our heart for more love and kindness.

I see this same nostalgic heart in both of my boys. It surfaces as they struggle to give away old books or toys they no longer use, pictures they drew, crafts they made, or even sticks and rocks they found on hike one day. The memories of the day and the people to whom they connect those objects create such strong attachments for them. They often feel as though they will lose that memory and connection if they no longer have the object. As I look at the objects around our house that were my grandmothers or my moms, I'm thinking it must be in our genes.

Today I am missing my grandma and the home her heart provided me.  I feel myself holding on, clinging to the desire to have it all like it was before. But as I listen to my sons chatting, watch them enjoy the Thanksgiving Day parade that my grandfather loved, smell the foods of the day beginning to simmer, I realize that like every Thanksgiving, this one too will be its own special day. It will have memories and experiences we will talk about for years to come. I just don't know yet what they'll be.

I continue to strive to be present for each moment, honoring the old memories while creating new ones. Living the practice and modeling that for my sons.

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