Welcome to summer, my friends. On Friday morning, I attended a sunrise solstice yoga session to acknowledge and celebrate the longest day of the year and the beginning of a new season. Saturday, I joined hundreds of others to sit on the lawn at the beautiful outdoor amphitheater of Tanglewood and listen to the Boston Pops tribute concert to the late Jerry Garcia. Then, on Sunday, I made a shiva call with Jeff to honor the passing of one of his family members. Today I am thinking about these three seemingly disparate events and how they represent the march of time… how they reveal ways that we can look forward and back and, most importantly, be fully present.
As a runner, I find that yoga is more slow and gentle than my body prefers but I respect the opportunity for a different kind of meditation and I enjoy the methodical practice of sun salutations. The celebration of our Sun in the solstice session I participated in provided a focus on the grandeur and mystery of the Universe that is, if you allow it to be, a little mind blowing. Reflecting on being truly present in this singular sunrise and honoring our planet’s year-long travel from one summer to the next feels more kind than the way many of us have of looking back and seeing all of one’s perceived life mistakes in relation to today. It reminded me, too, that looking back need not always be further away than yesterday and, perhaps, would benefit by really opening our eyes and seeing the beauty and miracle of this moment.
Jerry Garcia represents a decade-long piece of history that Jeff and I did not share. As someone who followed the Grateful Dead for nearly ten years, he has a long and colorful past that I cannot be a part of and I have to be completely honest and admit that, at times, this sticks in my craw–not so much for wishing I was a deadhead but for the selfish nature of my human condition and the tendency we all have to want full ownership of those we care about, a desire clearly born from illusion. As the Pops played songs that I only vaguely know, I began to think that when we are open to fully sharing the joys of someone else’s past life, negative feelings automatically lift and we can begin to love them in a new way that honors all their pasts in our presents. Sharing the pasts of our loved ones provides the chance for new futures and the creation of new histories. And, it’s true, we all arrive to where we are by way of every moment behind us.
The Judaic practice of Shiva is traditionally a seven-day period of mourning in the home of one of the grieving family members. Over the course of a week, the family receives guests, shares stories of the loved one who has passed and comfort is provided by a gentle but steady stream of people who come to share the complicated mixture of emotions that death inspires. While I have attended my fair share of funerals, this was my first shiva and I will say that it was a very different experience than what I have known. Rather than everyone arriving all at once to pay their respects, those who are grieving have longer, more meaningful exchanges and connections with visitors over the course of days. In fact, when we arrived, we were introduced to “the circle of the moment,” and I really liked that description. I spent my time there talking with the life partner of the man who had passed away and while so much of what she expressed was powerful, one thing in particular has resonated with me: I know that while I have tried to understand it, I have truly not been able come to terms with death and that’s OK. But what I know is that I have lived a life with no regrets.
Honoring the past, being fully present with the world and with those around us, and living a life with purpose… this is a lovely view. Take it in.
TRY THIS WEEK: Check out the view from where you are.