Back to school time and everyone is posting pictures of their kids excited to start a new year. It’s a bittersweet time for a lot of parents. Kids are excited, but mindful parents know that the beginning of the school year marks one more step towards that baby you carried home going off on her own.
We are of a certain age where many of our friends have kids going off to their first year of college. Our Facebook feeds are full of shiny happy people marking milestones in their kids’ lives. I want to be happy for them. I really do. Not everyone’s world has been colored like mine. So, I scroll past the pictures maybe clicking the “Like” button and I console myself with the fact I had my time and it was amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But my time is over now.
Last night we watched the Olympics with Kayla because that is what we do in this house. If the Olympics are on, we are watching. Michael Phelps made his last swim. Kayla noted this strange feeling she had that she has never had. Kayla is about as far from a sports fan as you can possibly be, but she is a Michael Phelps fan. She has read his biography. She remmebers him first from the 2008 Olympics. She has followed his ups and downs. She ask “What is this feeling I’m having about sports? I feel kind of melancholy because I know this is his last swim.”. I remember being her age and starting to watch some of my heroes retire. It was one of my first lessons in impermanence and I did not like it. Later she remarked how just when you think you have life figured out and things are going along great, something happens, things change. Yes, too bad she has had to deal with that at the tender age of 19. Nothing stays the same. Earlier in the day, Tywana and I were watching Russell Simmons talk about how Zen he is and the Buddhist philosophy of non-attachment. The Buddha figured out if you never were attached to anything nothing could hurt you. If you were totally unemotional about outcomes, you could never be hurt. So, some people set out to seek this non-attachment. The problem is it’s not human.
I think attachment is part of the human condition. Thus, so is suffering. To go through life without attachment isn’t fully being human. So sadly, to go through life without suffering isn’t fully being human. Today we are happy. Tomorrow we suffer. Maybe the next day we find happiness again. And so, the roller coaster of life goes.
So, shiny happy people enjoy today, fully. I hope it lasts as long as possible for you.