Considering Connection and Lost Time

I woke from dreams yesterday, a bit confused, and lay in bed for a while to process the ideas and feelings mindfully, rather than hopping out of bed and forgetting them.

In an earlier dream, my family were all together, travelling, talking, and I spent time with my dad, catching up. A subsequent dream made the first a dream within a dream — waking up from the first, I remembered that my dad was gone, and my mom and sister were both completely lost, shattered, going through the motions of daily life, trying to make it through each one. My sister warned me not to talk to my mom about … something… and when I went to go talk with her, sure enough, she went rigid, cold, and mechanically started doing chores, almost knocking me over as she pushed forward in completing them.

This contrast and some of the associated emotional ambiance of the dream highlighted the emotional difficulties of grieving and letting go, how the process throws us out of our element enough to put us on rails of pain and heartbreak, and in my own case, it accentuated the abstract, almost surreal quality of disconnection. I mean — in my own processing of this event, recently, there have been times where something makes me think: “I can’t wait to talk to Dad about this.” Only a second or two later do I realize that that’s impossible. The few times this has happened have each been equally a moment of bitter realization; it seems the event is just too big, too much of a change of the structures of life for it to readily sink in at the new-normal operating level, even after a few months.

I think that this ultimately speaks to the one piece that I struggle to accept in losing him, the one thing that doesn’t fully digest: I regret not seeing him more since I left to college over a decade ago. There were years when I saw him not at all or only once for a few days. We were both too busy a lot of the time to readily keep up on the phone. Etc.

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That’s ultimately the problem with death, as the existentialists and Buddhists constantly warn us, it’s not operating on our time table. It can come out of nowhere, and it waits for us as soon as we are born. That’s why Heidegger sets the ultimate challenge as being resolute in the face of it, creating your life through your projects, seeing it coming, and knowing that it could pop up at any time. The mahayana path of Buddhism tells us to do similarly: start practicing now, in this moment, and be grateful for the opportunity of being alive and experiencing the truth of the Dharma. You have this one chance to lead a wise, compassionate human life. Don’t waste it.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t as mindful of this in my relationship with my dad as I could have and should have been. I feel like our relationship in the last few years is captured with “Cats in the Cradle” by Cat Stevens (I listened to a rock cover of it a lot in high school by Ugly Kid Joe). I’m sure my dad probably experienced me growing up and zooming off out of our small hometown at a more or less breakneck pace, and he was always just a bit too busy to be there as much as he would have liked, and when I grew up, it was the same for me — too busy doing other things and in places far away (so I experienced the inverse and see that now).

My point with all this is be aware and grateful of the connections you have in your life — both large and small. Try to make the time to be present for them. Reach out. You never know when your time or your friend’s/partner’s/colleague’s/acquaintance’s/family member’s time will be up, and if that time passes, there’s nothing that can bring it back.

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 5amt3n
    Jun 11, 2018 @ 21:50:00

    This brought tears to my eyes. I am so very sorry for your loss. You are so right about not taking for granted the moments we have with others; we really do not know when their time, or our time on this earth will come to an end. The recent drowning of my great niece’s boyfriend Andreas, at the age of twenty-four, very much brought that into my awareness. I think that you have done a great good by speaking of your loss to us all in the way that you have. You and your dad’s loved ones are in my heart and prayers. May your dad rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • zeuslyone
      Jun 11, 2018 @ 23:08:22

      Thank you so much for your comment. This one was a bit hard to write, as it’s hard to reveal feelings of guilt/regret, but I hoped that it would be insightful for others’ gratitude and waking up to their lives. I’m grateful that you’re supporting that intention and that we are in your heart and prayers. *deep bow of gratitude*

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  2. 5amt3n
    Jun 12, 2018 @ 19:31:35

    You’re welcome. I know that when I first read this post I thought how hard it must have been for you to write it. I thought you were courageous to share of yourself in this way. I suspect that you are not alone in what you reveal in your post. I thought that I’d let you know that your words inspired me to write a warm-hearted newsy email to my daughter and son-in-law; I sent it a little while ago. You have also inspired me to connect with one person every day, whether through a phone call, in person, through an email, a Facebook message, a friendly card, a kind word, a friendly smile, or any way that I can think up. This morning when I meditated I dedicated any merit to go to you, your dad, and loved ones and did the Buddhist loving kindness/metta/maitri practice for you all. *deep bow of gratitude to you also”

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    • zeuslyone
      Jun 13, 2018 @ 16:43:44

      Thank you so much for this! It has truly made my day, and it’s always amazing when I encounter other deeply engaged Buddhist practitioners. I’ve been working to stay in close contact with my mom since my dad passed, but your comment makes me realize that I need to mindfully hold this as best as I can for all of my connections.

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  3. 5amt3n
    Jun 14, 2018 @ 02:37:26

    You’re welcome. Ironically, your response made my day too. I think that it is wonderful that you are trying to stay in close contact with your mom; I know how good I feel that my son connects with me frequently. I kind of wondered if you were following a Buddhist path. It is interesting how life unfolds sometimes. I feel so very grateful to have encountered others on this path, including my teacher Yeshe Wangpo. The first time that I connected with him in person was one evening when I attended a group he was leading to discuss a book on Buddhist teachings; the posting for which was at our local library. I remember sitting there with him and the others and feeling a strong sense that, finally, I was home. I was, and still am, drawn to the emphasis on compassion. I had been searching for years for something to fill this void that I seemed to have, even to the extent of, after taking a course on Taoist philosophy, making my major in university the Philosophy and Psychology of Religion. It wasn’t until that evening years later, however, that I knew I had found what I was looking for. Through all the years since, even with all the ups and downs on this roller coaster of life, I have never looked back.

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  4. Malcolm Hunt
    Jun 14, 2018 @ 07:37:44

    What a wonderful post. Even now after many years of my Dad’s passing I still get the urge to phone him when I’m excited about a new venture or when I travel. We definitely must make the most of those relationships while we have them.

    Liked by 2 people

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    • zeuslyone
      Jun 16, 2018 @ 00:05:25

      Thank you, Malcolm! It’s interesting to hear that that connection may hold for years, that urge to share with a loved one can go long beyond the grave. I appreciate your shared insight and support as always.

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  5. 5amt3n
    Jul 31, 2018 @ 18:53:07

    I’ve been thinking of you lately and wondering how you are doing.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • zeuslyone
      Jul 31, 2018 @ 19:24:34

      Thank you for thinking of me. Your comments on my posts had been on my mind too, so maybe it’s serendipitous??? I’ve been doing all right. It’s mostly confusing to go through this loss. It seems like a dream I should wake up from sooner or later. Sometimes, I have spikes of sadness, when the depths of it hits me, but for the most part, my Buddhist practice and perspective has helped me go through this with a modicum of grace and patience. I’ve been reading a lot about psychology and Buddhism as well, to help me better live my life, which is focused self-care from my long-established toolkit. Thank you very much for your kind thoughts. May that merit of compassion transfer to the betterment of all sentient beings.

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  6. 5amt3n
    Jul 31, 2018 @ 19:54:24

    My heart goes out to you as you go through this loss. I’m glad that you do have your Buddhist practice at this difficult time. Many years ago, when my father-in-law died, the pain of it would feel overwhelming a lot of the time; I was so very grateful for my Buddhist practice. It was so hard staying with the emotions, but I knew that I had to. Meditating daily helped immensely. I was hurting, and stayed with what is, and was able to find some peace through it all. I honestly don’t know how I would have coped without my practice. I am not surprised that we were thinking of each other around the same time; I don’t know why and that’s okay. It’s interesting how life manifests sometimes.

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