In the Eyes of the Beholder

A Canadian friend who just caught a cold is nervous that they sometimes stay around for weeks. With less than impressive empathy, I remarked that I can’t remember having had a cold since the 1980’s when I had a dramatic respiratory illness, about which I wrote something at the time (“A Memorable Bath”). Interestingly, he didn’t want to see the piece I wrote but wanted to know my secret for keeping respiratory illnesses at bay.

This had me thinking about the shapes of my life since the 1980’s, and I wondered whether my inner health over the decades has shown a freedom from debilitating assaults comparable to how my outer embodiment has been free from respiratory ailments.

What is my scorecard over the past 40 years in the health of my inner being? During that time, I have been married, had a family, and worked with people with disabilities. Those all feel like engagements that have nourished me, body, mind, heart and spirit.

If I have treated my body with respect, is there anything worth sharing about the diet, exercise, and attitude that I have practiced over those decades? Or have I just been blessed with a karmic legacy—manifesting through genetic inheritance and adopted behavior—that keeps me safe from certain assaults?

I have a sense that my life is a journey across an ocean surface on which I keep plying my small craft, never knowing what the next wave will bring, where the currents will take me, or how long I will stay afloat.

I welcomed the question about how I remain free from respiratory ailments because it reminds me to appreciate the good outer health that I have been given. At the same time, here is a signpost of inner health, which raises a different question:

One day, your family and friends might say: ‘There’s something different about you these days. You seem wiser and kinder. What happened? How did you change?’
You can tell them: “I practiced caring awareness and did my best to love myself. When I was able to do that, I discovered goodness in myself that I wanted to protect. Then I began to notice that same goodness in others.
Caring, Tarthang Tulku.

Wouldn’t that be nice? Meanwhile, I can be the one who beholds goodness in others.

I find myself feeling that whatever unfolds in my life is a mystery I won’t ever fully fathom, and I will count myself lucky if I can look back and say, “Whatever pitfalls I have tumbled into and whatever accidents of time have befallen me, I tried to be present to them and to respond as best as I knew how at the time.

Five years ago today, the doctors at UNM Hospital took you off life support, Jon. May you now be sailing in waters that carry your precious being with winds of loving kindness.

2 comments to “In the Eyes of the Beholder”

Leave a Reply