My spiritual life lately has been about as well balanced and as substantial as the reflection of this house in the car window. I’ve been not exactly depressed but disheartened and at loose ends. I’ve tried to meditate, do mindfulness practices and notice sensation, but this only went so far–and that far was not far enough.

Next month I turn 65–and have heard myself saying things like “but 65 is in an intimate relationship to 70.” I’d belabor the point that I am too young to be that close to 70, too vital, too unfinished (sometimes I feel as if I’ve barely gotten started living), too whatever. The issue was never 65 itself; it was always 70.

Tuesday, as I was going over this yet again at my therapist’s office, I heard myself say, “And Daddy was 69 when he died.” Pow!! I got it. There’s no way I want to live in a world without my father, and it feels that to outlive him would be to do exactly that. Knowing this, I’ve felt lighter about the whole birthday thing and more sanguine about “the future,” whatever it is. The sense of being disaffected begins to lift; I sense movement within myself that is gift.

This passage from The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava just came to mind. Padmasambhava, otherwise known as Guru Rinpoche, is the Indian scholar-saint who brought Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century. I’m quoting from memory.

When Padmasambhava goes to the palace of beatitude,
do not seek to follow. Do not go with him.
Having known me, you will see me in the future.
This union is indissoluble.

And again, “Ah. . . .” The love I have for my father, the connection I feel to him–a connection I have fought for and earned and been blessed with–can survive 70, if it comes to that.

As I was lying down last night, I realized that the meditation that wasn’t working was too rational, too determined, too forced. In my need I had bypassed my heart. But for years I chanted, something I haven’t done in a long time, something it feels right to return to with all the love and yearning of my heart, with no apology.

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