You would think after six years of being the mom of a child with a brain tumor that I would be completely fine with MRI’s and all the stress that comes with it. I am for the most part, but humanness sneaks up on me every once in a while. There is this human factor, full of worry and stress, that I’m working on overcoming. I’m focusing on being calm, being okay with what ever comes next and more importantly living in each moment of my day instead of looking backwards or ahead. It’s not always easy and it’s a lot of freaking work. Slowly though, I am finding peace in so many ways and it is so beautiful to witness life from this angle versus the other.
I haven’t written in a while because I have been reading and I haven’t been moved to write I guess. Reading is one of the ways I am finding peace. Tons of different kinds of books that range from parenting, to self-help, to building resiliency, I mean you name it I’m open to it. I pull from each book what I feel will build me up and it works. Different things from different books stay with me. This one particular book did just that. Someone close to me let me borrow it some time ago and she said at the time, “read it when your ready.” I said, “Well how will I know when I’m ready?” She said, “You’ll just know Lacie, trust your instincts.” I am really starting to trust myself these days, our instincts are extremely accurate when you actually listen to them.
So about a month ago, I had finished a couple of books, so in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to read something new and different. One day, I was getting ready to run out the door to pick Jimmy up from 1st Grade and I look up. Something just told me to look up. Sitting there on my self are about 20 books, and this particular one stood out. I didn’t look there for a new book to read at first, because I had read most of the books on that particular self. At the time I couldn’t remember where it came from I just knew it was time for me to read it. I grabbed it and started carrying it around with me until I could find some time to open up it’s cover and discover what was inside.
It’s an older book written back in the 70’s. I really like older books, I find it so phenomenal because a lot of the same spiritual concepts they spoke of back then are now being written in various neuroscience books now. A lot of what they discovered about the brain scientifically matches up with ways spiritualists thought the brain worked 30-40 years ago. The book I speak of is the, “Handbook to Higher Consciousness,” by Ken Keyes, Jr. I’m not even sure if the book is in print anymore. I find it intriguing though.
The book speaks of many things, but more importantly it gives you a different way to think about everything. One particular story from the book, stuck with me. Probably because my humanness pulls me into the future quite a bit, into worry, instead of the here and now. How often do we live our lives effectively, for each moment, instead of worrying about the past or the distant future? It’s possible you know, we just have to train our brains, ourselves to think that way.
The story goes like this, taken from “Handbook to Higher Consciousness…”
“The meaning of the here and now is beautifully illustrated by a zen story of a monk who was being chased by two tigers. He came to the edge of a cliff. He looked back-the tigers were almost upon him. Noticing a vine leading over the cliff, he quickly crawled over the edge and began to let himself down by the vine. Then as he checked below, he saw two tigers waiting for him at the bottom of the cliff. He looked up and observed that two mice were gnawing away at the vine. Just then, he saw a beautiful strawberry within arm’s reach. He picked it and enjoyed the best tasting strawberry in his whole life!
Although only minutes from death, the monk could enjoy the here and now. Our life continually sends us “tigers”—and it continually sends us “strawberries.” But do we let ourselves enjoy the strawberries? Or do we use our valuable consciousness worrying about the tigers?
Notice that the monk fully responded to the physical danger in the most intelligent way. He ran from the tigers and he even scrambled down the cliff while hanging on to a vine. And having done this, he remained fully in the here and now to enjoy whatever life offered him. Although death was only minutes away, he did not let thoughts of the future terrify him. After doing everything he could do, he used his precious consciousness to fully enjoy every moment of his life.”
Every time I start drifting into the future or being my own toughest critic about the past I think of this story and it pulls into the moment, exactly where I need to be. Stories are much more powerful than I ever thought.
This week Jimmy gets his 27th, I think, MRI scan. We’ll see how well the chemotherapy is still working after 6 treatments. I’m thinking about all of this and bustling around the house trying to finish everything up so I could be organized for the week and Lily, my three-year old daughter walks in and says, “I’m hungry mommy.” I, lost in my thoughts about everything and nothing at the same time, say to her, “okay Lily I’ll get you something to eat in a minute and then we have to go get your brother from school in a bit.” Thoughts about how good of a parent I am and if I’m doing everything I can for Jimmy, swim through my head and I get pulled out of my thought by Lily saying something to me in the background. I could hear her, but it was vague and distant.
I finally turned, looked and focused my attention on her. She said it again, “Mommy I want some strawberries,” standing in the fridge doorway slowly pulling out a giant container of strawberries off the self. I’m about four steps away from her. Did you ever have one of those, “noooooooooo,” slow motion moments where you know you were in for a big spill unless somehow you could make it across the room at lighting speed. Yeah, I wish I was that fast. About forty strawberries spread out over the kitchen floor. I look up at Lily, about to tell her something to the extent of, “you should have waited for mommy.”
And I catch myself.
I look down and I am literally surrounded by strawberries and I remember the story.
I started laughing out loud. Lily starts laughing too. I look at Lily and say, “no worries Lily, if we spill something it’s no big deal, we just pick it up and keep going.” She let out this sigh of relief and said, “okay mommy cause I really like strawberries.” In that moment I know the universe, God, some mysterious force, whatever you want to call it was telling me something. Focus on the strawberries. I stopped everything I was doing, walked outside with Lily, focused and played with her for the rest of the afternoon.
Life gives us strawberries constantly. When we can focus on those “strawberries,” we can vastly improve every aspect of our lives, especially the moment you’re in right now. We’re all human, we all make mistakes, we are all our own toughest critics, but we all have the right to be happy and enjoy every second we get to breathe in life on this earth.
Enjoy the strawberries my friends, you are surrounded by them!