Years ago when I was feeling a need for a shift in my life, I sought the counsel of my teacher, Lama Drimed. He gave me very simple, but profound advice, and I have never forgotten it. “Walk into that shoe store. Look around. Try on every shoe that you are attracted to; price be damned! Take your time. Strut around. Check them out. How do you feel? Do like that…your answer will come.”
I’m at another crossroads where I feel a deep stirring. Having a best friend die will do that. Make you question where you are in your life. So I find myself taking his advice again. I am exploring areas where I feel I have unfinished business. I realize that I want to be more in the lives of my grandchildren, doing ordinary, day-to-day kid stuff things, not just visiting from time to time. What would that look like? Do I move there? Do I just visit for longer periods of time? I’m putting on every shoe I find in the store right now. Reading the Craigs listings my daughter is firing my way. Rentals. Hospice jobs. Intuitively feeling into it; considering everything. This process has served me well during other major intersections in my life and I trust it.
Yet I am also aware that it is unwise to make major decisions while in the throes of grief. Grief is, by its very nature, a state of contraction and self-absorption. It’s a natural and normal process following loss, but it’s unsettling – coming and going in an inconvenient and unpredictable fashion. I watch myself needing to wrap a dramatic story around it, and wanting to act impulsively from this contracted state, doing ANYTHING to get away from having to experience it, because it is very, very uncomfortable. In the past when I have made bold moves in my life from a painful place like this, I have almost always had regret. Wisdom comes in the gaps when one is open and not bound tight. What comes from contracted states is not usually wise and cannot be relied upon. So, I continue to explore, but am doing so carefully, aware moment to moment of the capricious movements of my mind.
Also, in this journey of grief, I have discovered how one can stand between opposites and hold them both equally. Feeling deep joy and celebration that Craig had an auspicious death in our Buddhist tradition, which he had prepared for over the course of a lifetime – and also experiencing the path of sorrow and loss as a human being, left behind, who loved and was attached to him. Both are true and need to be honored.
In the meantime, in the midst of it all, I enjoy trying on beautiful new shoes. Who knows where I will walk next.