I did something this past weekend that I have not done in almost two years. And prior to that, this event would have happened maybe once a year...maybe. And even at that, I don't know if I have ever accomplished this task on a Saturday! Nor have I ever done this alone. This weekend was no exception. For those of you thinking compassionate thoughts in regards to my self-edification and well being....well, don't get your hopes too high! This weekend, after much deliberation, we agreed to take Sara and her friend Nicole to the Mall of America.
I've never really thought of the MOA as a place to actually "shop". First, let me tell you that shopping in general has never ranked very high on my list of fun things to do. Not because of any particular view point in regards to the task, but more due to the fact that I have a very limited amount of patience in the "trying to find what you need" department. I'd rather just have it appear in front of me, like magic. And secondly, it's just too big. Period. Actually looking for a particular item in the MOA compares in characteristic much to marathon running. The gun goes off, you settle into your pace (completely disillusioned), you fuel up at roadside stations (Caribou) and around mile 20 you just put your head down and concentrate on getting one foot in front of the other. If you're lucky, you get a little medal at the end.
But not this time. This time was much different for me. Other than walking through Macy's after Dave dropped us off, I never stepped foot in one store. We just sat. Coffee in hand, changing locations about every hour, we simply sat and watched people - for seven hours. I have to admit, at first, I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. The shear masses alone were enough to make me a bit claustrophobic, but after two years of basically no shopping, I found myself momentarily inundated with thoughts of what I thought I "needed". It was kind of like a brief tidal wave of emotion. I literally felt it swell within me.... Oh, my gosh, I need socks. I need jeans. I need underwear. I need a new teapot. I need chocolate. 50-60-75% off signs everywhere! It wasn't a good feeling. In fact, it felt much like panic. Instead of wanting to have the physical strength to go explore, I felt as though I wanted to crawl inside a box and hide. But a few deep breaths later, and some good husband-ly comfort and I was good to go. Or better yet, good to stay.
I'm not really sure what that was. And I am really glad that it did not last, because the next hours were replete with good conversation and some pretty serious self-analyzing. I'm extremely fortunate that Dave has such loving patience and the willingness to endure my endless philosophizing, because at times the dialogue is a bit one sided. He's truly the best listener I have ever known. It's one of his greatest gifts. So, in a nutshell, this was the rambling of my heart...
We are all the same. We all want to be loved. We all want to be happy. We all hope for the best and have our fair share of the worst. We all struggle for meaning and are afflicted with self-doubt. We all wake up each morning doing our best to figure this day out, stumbling through our suffering, laughing with our joy and keeping our selves safe. We know we're not perfect - although we seldom give ourselves that grace. We fall short and forgive long. We hold pain and make due. We stand in front of our mirrors, adorn ourselves with the armor of the day and give life our best shot.
I am consumed with the compassion that arises out of our sameness. Those that are sick, want to be well. Those that are lost, want to be found. Those that are lonely, want to be comforted. Those that are hungry, want to be full. Those that are confused, want to be sure. Those that are longing, want to be satisfied. And the ways in which we each cope with our suffering are as numbered as the souls in the battle. But still, we fall prey to our fear. Feeling naked by our realization, we build walls - identities to cover what we think too painful to bear. Constructing notions of truth that are nothing more than perceptions in our minds. And where does this leave us? Caught in an endless frenzy of feeding and starving, never satisfied. Never meeting up. Unable to recognize that our need for more is even greater than our joy of having. Why? Because we fail to realize that what we need is already within us. In its purest form, completely sufficient and lacking in nothing. And when that realization is present, there is no room for anything more. Try it. Try hating when you are overtaken with joy. Try being angry when someone surprises you with a long desired gift. The next time you are generous, try feeling greedy. It does not work. So then, when purity of mind and heart exists, there is no room for greed. There is no room for pain. There is no room for delusion. You can't feel one thing and its opposite at the same time.
Sitting on a bench for seven hours definitely had its challenges, but I am thankful for the view that Dave and I shared this past Saturday . Much like the vantage point at which I find myself after being diagnosed with a life threatening illness. As uncomfortable as it is at times, it's worth every moment. Isn't that what this life is all about? The journey, not the destination. Being completely present. Feeling. It's in the feeling that we find love and compassion - where we find life. Sometimes it seems like I spend most of my days climbing and maneuvering my way to a better view. I forget to just sit still. As for this weekend, I guess I did bring home a little medal. More of a gift, of sorts.