Sunday, May 31, 2015

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Goodbye is something we say a lot and often in this family.

We don't stay in one place for very long. In our kid's lifetime thus far, and in the span of twenty years of marriage, we have lived in four states, moving from the Midwest and reaching the East Coast, two countries and two separate continents. We are preparing to move to our third country of residence in the last three years. We have, in that short span of time, gone from The United States to China, and now on to Taiwan.

My husband and kids are all dual citizens of the USA and Australia and our family is divided among those two distant lands. No matter where in the world we are, we are always away from someone. Distance is an experience we are constantly aware of and living in. We are always missing someone.We love saying hello, and we know it will be followed, at some point, by the sting of goodbye.

My present state of affairs has me deep in reflection on this relentless shifting and changing of circumstance. I am confronted with the truth that nothing can stay constant. Eventually, no matter how deep our roots seem, no matter how solidly we construct our lives, things will shift beneath our feet and we will be forced to acknowledge that loss in life is unavoidable. We will all have to contend with such sweet sorrow and sometimes the sweetness will be difficult to taste.

A week ago I lost one of the most important people in my life. I knew the day was coming, and yet I seem to have allowed myself to be lost in denial. My teacher, my guru, a woman who came as an embodied angel to help me heal deep wounds of pain, fear and anger, and in turn showed me the ways of love, devotion and faith, passed on from this world.

I was not, I am not, ready to say goodbye to her. And yet, I have been shoved right off the cliff. I feel myself falling down and down. The ground I had come to rely on is crumbling out from under me, and I can do nothing to change it. She is gone, and I didn't even get to say goodbye, at least not in person. I know she can hear my heart, sense these words, I feel her presence, and yet the emptiness I am experiencing is large. She was always the light of reason and wisdom in a life that often occurs confusing and unnavigable to me. I wonder who will hold up a lantern for me now.

But I am still here.

Buddha, when he was near death, advised his students, who feared this untethering as I do now, "Be a light unto yourself."

My teacher's name was Vidya Carolyn Dell'uomo. Vidya was her spiritual name given to her by her teacher. Vidya is a Sanskrit word which means knowledge. Vidya gave me a name as well. My name is Jyotika which means light.

I will endeavor to live up to the name my teacher gave me. I will step forward into this void, into this unknown, and trust my teacher's knowledge, which I have been blessed to recieve. There will be light. She has taught me what I need to know. I carry her teaching and her love forward with me. I will serve in whatever way I can, no matter where this transient life takes me.

My teacher has moved on to a new place, and my family and I prepare now to do the same once again.

Just a few weeks from now we will have to say our goodbyes to the friends we have made here in Shanghai. I will say farewell to yoga students, my husband will say goodbye to colleagues and our kids will say goodbye to peers and teachers. We probably will see very few of these people again, and we love them. We will carry them in our hearts and good memories, we are bigger and better, we are wiser and stronger for having known all of them.

Now our course is set. We are moving on. The winds of change and impermanence are blowing.These winds blow on all of our sails, and move through all of our lives. As all things begin, all things eventually must end. If it were not so, we would miss all the beauty of life. We see beauty because it must be savored. When we are touched by impermanence and loss we are reminded to appreciate the sweetness of all we have today, and though things will come and go, it is that truth that sparks our senses and wakes us to full aliveness. And yes, it brings suffering and heartache sometimes as well.

People, at times, have wondered at this transient life we are living with our family. Occasionally people have questioned me about the negative impact it might have on our children. They point out how challenging it must be for them to have to say goodbye to friends, move on, and start again.

I can only speak for my family and our experience of this. It has its difficulties for each of us to be sure, but it teaches us to cherish what is in front of us while it is there. It teaches us to be grateful and not take anyone or anything for granted. Yes, it hurts sometimes. Yes, my children have had tears and upset, but they have also learned the value of relationship and kindness. No one can be foreign or strange to them because they have seen how the world is inextricably interconnected, and people all across the globe are in this together. Every life is transient and impermanent, but love, the stuff of our souls, is eternal, and keeps us always together.

Life is short. We journey together for now, but even these children will soon set sail in different directions. I hope to have shown them the way of their own lights and loving hearts. We are always and forever connected by love, that is what matters, that is the direction towards which I hope to always set my course until I too move on at the end and the beginning of things.

"Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation."  ~ Rumi

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