Friday, January 6, 2012

One Sure Thing

At the local grocery store, I run into Mary, an elderly woman whom I haven’t seen in over a year. She was always thin, no visible fat on her small frame, but now she's gaunt. Although dressed in layers, including a warm coat, she says she’s “freezing” in the produce section as she and her sister look over the bins of onions and potatoes.

I sense there is something terribly wrong with her health but dare not ask.

I tell her it’s slippery outside and to watch out for the icy patches beneath the snow. Her reply: “Oh, yes. I fell already. On the front steps.”

I am about to offer my sympathy when her sister speaks up. “It wasn’t the front steps and she didn’t fall this year.” She shrugs, “Her memory….”

I walk away after exchanging New Year’s wishes, knowing that she will take good care of her sister. They have lived in the same house for decades and go everywhere together. Still, it’s a shock to see someone you’ve known for years and realize she’s no longer the same.

I realized long ago that “security” is an illusion. All the wealth in the world cannot protect you from getting struck by a car, having a heart attack or getting sick.

The only constant in life, they say, is CHANGE. Nothing stays the same – not our bodies, and usually not the relationships or situations that we deal with. We’re here to grow and learn and often the way we do this is through difficulty. An illness, for example, can force us to slow down and appreciate the things which we may take for granted – like the kindness of others or even the way the sunlight glints through the window pane on a frosty January morning.

This year, 2012, is certain to be punctuated by the unexpected, considering the level of chaos in the world as well as the instability in many of our lives. It’s important to stay calm and centered, no matter what goes on around you. Find something to appreciate and to feel thankful for and send as much love and peace as you can to the planet (and to yourself). We are all more resilient than we imagine.

Of one thing we can be absolutely sure. No matter what changes we experience, the human spirit will live on!