The Fragility of Impermanence

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“Our life’s work is to use what we have been given to wake up.” Pema Chodron

I was getting ready to post about my past, about how it all started, “my journey into meditation and divorce” as my next entry. I had it all written down and was planning to release it on Monday January 29th. However, the impermanence of life had other plans in store for me that day. A tragic incident stopped me on my tracks. Changes were coming. I could viscerally feel a shift in my core. Sharing with you all seemed natural before moving on to my story.

On Saturday January 27th, a young boy in my daughter’s grade committed suicide. This didn’t seem to fit the suicide profile of what we sadly witness in situations such as this. To him, in his own mind, this was an act of bravery. After having read the three letters that he carefully drafted and left behind addressing the school, parents, family and friends; we as a community realized that part of his plea was to bring change to a flawed school system, something that had become unbearable for him.In the letters he left behind he explained his disappointment and frustration with a system where kids were encouraged and pushed to get the highest GPA to get into a college. A deep sense of sadness was evident amongst these transcripts. Stressed by the ongoing pressures of school, pressures that all the kids experience while trying to navigate adolescence life. Disconnected with themselves, they forget about caring for one another. In the midst of all these growing pains, humanity seems to take a back seat. Compassion, contentment, joy and kindness were the things he felt missing in his community. It was a message to stop and pause, to be kind and acknowledge each other. To sit with the kid who sits alone at lunchtime.

We all wished that he didn’t have to wake us up like this.

My daughter was shaken by the news, and so were all the other kids at the school. Parents, teachers and the administrators as well. They all recognized the much needed “change message” by this young boy.

I had to reflect on this. I wondered how I could make myself separate from others!. This could happen to any one of us on any given day. I have been witnessing similar stress and anxiety patterns in my own daughter for sometime now. The incessant school workload along with all the extra curricular activities that she has gotten herself involved in. While talking to her, I was noticing that she found herself navigating a uncharted waters. Being pushed by a system that seems to view success and accomplishments as key ingredient to the road to happiness. Failure and non-perfection is almost unacceptable. Clearly these are systemic issues very much engrained into the fiber of our society. This can not longer be ignored. I am part of this collective madness, I said to myself. Sadly, having this event touching so close to home jolted me out my sleep. Now, unsure of what courses of action to take moving forward, my gut instinct was telling me that the status quo needed a radical shift. Not being part the solution could no longer an option for me.

I wondered what role I could play in helping bring change to the school. To help our children become happier. For them to be able to recognize their own humanity and therefore the humanity of others, instead grades seem to have higher priority. Blinded by my own lack of awareness, I recognized that I first needed to address the health and wellbeing of my own home. My divorce had deeply affected my daughter. Besides having to live in two different households and the adaptation that such arrangement entails; many other factors she endured in the past few years. Her anxiety level still rises whenever her father and I may show up at any function at the same time. Despite all the assurance I give her that we are both adults and we would be civil to each other, extremely uncomfortable she remains. I picked up the phone, I called my ex-husband.

Over three years has gone by since our last phone conversation. Having battled each other in court, over custody evaluations, and so much more; the notion of us having a normal dialogue have been almost nonexistent. Instead we settled for email exchanges. It is fair to say that in my estimation our post-divorce relationship till this day still remains fragile. Bring careful I continue to choose my words wisely; thinking; “anything I say, may be used against me”. Even in the court of law. I sensed my fear. Meditating and contemplating on my cushion, I sat with that fear. I sat, and sat and sat some more. Sometime later I started to regain my strength, physical and emotional. I asked myself; what do I have to lose? What is more valuable than the wellbeing of my children?

I called him on that Monday morning, the day that I was planning to post on my blog. I won’t deny that making that phone call was extremely uncomfortable and difficult. I have been walking on eggshells around him for way too long. Even as I write this I feel that I am still being careful in how I convey my feelings. Upon picking up the phone, I could feel my heart aching, I could sense fear in the background.  Grateful to my meditation practice, I could feel myself being able to hold these uncomfortable afflictions; fear, anxiety, lack of trust and so much more in a different space. I could bring compassion to that present moment while I said hi to him.

I shared with him how shaken I was by the unfortunate incident and how I didn’t want my phone call to him be this type of desperation for our children. While crying, I shared with him my honest concerns for our daughter. I told him how this incident was heartbreaking and confusing for her, and how it shook me. I called with no expectation, not knowing how receptive he may be. I didn’t know if he would even pick up the phone. I had to be in my truth, be honest about my concerns and see how things will unfold.

We had two phone conversations since Monday and many text exchanges. All concerning our daughter’s well being. We both acknowledged that the importance of these communications. I have no assurance that this amicable communication will continue the way it started. I want to be hopeful but not going to set a certain expectation on how I want this to continue. I have learned expectations set us up for disappointment.

I also had to separate myself from the fact that he is taking me to court again. And that I got a phone call from my attorney on Tuesday, the day after our first conversation, letting me know that his attorney wants to set a date for my deposition. Well, I will work with that in due time, I told myself.

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