a little help from our friends!
At the end of my run on Monday, I noticed a woman picking things up, and dropping them back on the beach. The closer I got, I could see that she was picking up large clam shells, pulling them apart, and dropping them again. A sea gull was following close behind her. I said, “Good morning! I was wondering what you were doing.” She was bent over, but smiled at me and said, “I like to give the birds a little help. They have a rough time of it.” and she went back to her work which she was obviously enjoying.
A part of me thought, “Sea gulls seem like the birds that need the least amount of help! and then the thought, “How do I know that the love that this woman is putting into her task, isn’t vitally needed by, not only those birds, but by the entire Universe?!” Can I really say with certainty what is needed; who is playing a large part in helping our world, and who or what action, is a small part, an insignificant part?” I know that her kindness changed my day. It made me smile. It was significant enough to tell Jack about when I got back to our motel… to tell you about now. Our lives matter. Our thoughts and our actions matter….I don’t think that there are degrees of “importance” in our actions when we are living from our hearts.
You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. ~Albert Camus
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Jack's school picture, 45 years ago
I came home Wednesday to find this photograph of Jack on my desk. He was 16 at the time it was taken. I couldn’t stop looking at it. I’ve never seen him smile that way before…so relaxed, so happy looking, so fresh. He seems to be thinking, “Don’t worry about anything, life is really good!”
I didn’t know Jack in his teens, or twenties, or thirties or forties…I met him the year he turned 50. I was 45 at the time. We had both lived a lot; many struggles, many good things. When people say to me that we are a “good couple” it always make me wonder what they see. We have a tendency to bicker …a lot. He thinks that it is “playful”. I think it’s just a bad habit. We both like things our own way, but have built a life that mostly works for us.We didn’t have children together, but he adores my sons. I never knew his parents, but my parents love him.
Lately we’ve been contemplating a big change in our lives; thinking about moving to the seacoast of Maine. The idea of moving has been around for a while. At one point, we looked at houses in Cambridge, but everything seemed wrong about that direction so we dropped the idea (or I should say, I dropped it…Jack never wanted to move into town). On my trip to New Castle, NH a month ago, the thought that we could live by the ocean sprung into my mind. When I presented it to Jack, he said he liked the idea too, but I know him well enough to realize that I will have to be the one who keeps the idea alive for this to happen. Moving is fairly easy for me. My family moved at least 10 times before I was 13. Jack lived in the same house until he left for college.
Yesterday, I found myself talking to this picture of Jack about the move. I have never done this before. I’ve imagined having conversations with people; seeing them in my mind, as relaxed and receptive, and have recommended this to friends and clients as a way to get positive energy moving in a difficult situation, but I have never talked to a photograph and felt such “openness”. Every idea I proposed to this 16-year-old version of Jack, he seemed to reply, “Great, love it!” What I really liked about doing this was it felt like a game. I heard a spiritual teacher once say that the more you play with life, the more it plays back and the easier it gets.
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