Monday, June 28, 2010

Friends and Family

A few months ago, I met a woman named Marci, who was in Los Angeles to help support her sister who was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. Her sister is a close friend of mine, and I was giving Marci a ride to LAX while she told me a little bit about her life. "I'm 67 years old," she said, although she didn't look or act nearly that age, "And I've decided to set a new goal for my life. I'm going to reconnect with as many of my family and friends as I can, as often as I can."

That really affected me. I had been on the fence about going to the wedding of the daughter of some old friends of mine in Kansas City, and that settled the matter: I came home that afternoon and made my reservations. Later this summer, Kathy and I are traveling to Seattle, Washington and Anchorage, Alaska for two more weddings - one for a colleague, the other for a cousin. 

Having gone through my own wedding a year ago, and seeing so many wonderful old friends and reuniting with my family after years of separation, I can tell you how much it means to show up at these things. Beyond that, however, there is the ever-present fact that, in the not-to-distant future, the events that will bring us together will not be happy and joyous. These gatherings will be full of sorrow and loss, or the reunions may take place at hospitals and bedsides for final goodbyes through tears of sadness and pain.

And so, like Marci, I have decided that the next chapter of my life will be about reconnecting with the people who have made my life what it is today. To see and touch those dear friends and relations who have been an integral part of the dharma of interdpendent causes and conditions that brought me to this point. Going back to Kansas this past weekend for Emily Tamblyn's wedding was a good beginning.

From the Prajnaparamita (The Heart Sutra):
Thus shall you think of this fleeting world:
A star at dawn,
A bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A rainbow, an echo, a phantom,
A dream.

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