I have reached a stage in this journey where I measure each moment by observations, behaviours and capabilities of my momma. I am not sure when this started, but I can see how these measures create the yardstick of our journey. I finely honed these measures down to the tiniest assessment. Measures of observations become: how is her breathing, is she breathing, the hue of her skin, the faraway distance in her eyes, and degree of her hunger. Measures of behaviours have become: level of anxiety and fear, and the extent of distress and crying. Measures of capabilities become: can she remember how to pick up a fork, use a spoon, know what to do with the food once it gets to her mouth, and can she understand words, sentences.
This morning, for the first time, she could not remember how to eat, how to use utensils or how to get food to her mouth. She watched us eat, yet could not understand instructions, and she allowed me to guide her hand to assist her in using a spoon.
I am saddened that my moments have devolved into measurements of her condition, rather than moments of celebration of her existence. I have been grappling with this balance all along; how to celebrate and embrace each moment for the blessing it brings while fully participating in what each moment requires of me. I also measure my own responses, to gauge how I am doing. My measures of me: Am I calm enough in this moment, have I spoken with kindness, am I responding with love and compassion, what is my level of exhaustion, tolerance, patience.
This balance is much like the ancient zen master’s wisdom of finding spiritual guidance and balance in the everyday life of “Chop wood, carry water”. We manage our journeys one moment at a time, seeking the balance of breath, life, joy, and meaning. Sometimes the profundity in the meaning is lost in the moment of chopping wood and carrying water. I could never have imagined that these daily small acts would amount to such conscious insight into who I am. My greatest lesson here is to feel the magic in the moment with every step I take. I realize that the measurement of moments is not necessary, nor is it a relevant gauge for how we are doing; yet I made it so. How well we do in each moment not does not really matter, because there is no way that I could understand the truth of it all from my limited perspective. The arbitrary yardstick of measures, merely becomes a critical tool of judgement. All that matters is that we find our balance by engaging to the fullest we can within each moment, given our capacity at the time; and to do so thanking ourselves for how we are serving. So “Chop wood, carry water” offers us the opportunity to honour each action, and each encounter for all that it brings.