From the BlogMeet Ron


Dear friends,
I turned 61 a couple of weeks ago. A friend at work remarked “But Tom, how could that be, it seems like you just turned 60 the other day?”
I replied, “Yes, but that other day happened last year.”
Here is one of those timeless questions: Does time seem to speed up as you grow older, like toilet paper rolls – the closer they get to the end, the faster they roll?
I remember Joseph Goldstein in a talk I heard years ago quipping that as he gets older he seems to be having breakfast “every fifteen minutes.” 
Sometimes I hear folks say that mindfulness is about being in the present and giving up thoughts of the past or the future, or that mindfulness is about getting away from thoughts and just focusing on our breath or the body. 
But thoughts of the past do come up, and they seem to be coming up with more poignancy and feeling as I get older. I love mindfulness because it encourages us to take in the texture, tone, and content of what’s happening in the mind, without having to dwell on it and kill the moment.
So when thoughts of the past come up I try to feel the thoughts as they come and dance their nostalgia and eventually find the exit, graciously and unoffended. 
What I love about real, true and mature mindfulness is not that it disses thought or glorifies a present unstained by “residues” of the past … but rather that it allows big space around anything that comes up. 
Thoughts are not solid. They flow in, dance a gig or two, and flow out. 
No big deal. 
So when poignant, nostalgic moments come up while thinking about the past, or about the inexorable flow of time, the body ageing, you just let your heart break, if that’s what it’s doing.
And it’s OK.
This is from an article which appeared on the online journal, by one of its editors, Barry Boyce, in June, 2011:

“One of my brothers, turned 65 the other day. He didn’t make a whole lot of it. He became eligible for Medicare; a friend bought him a really nice golf club; lots of family and friends called.

Although my brother is ten years older, I’ve always regarded him as young. We’re close and he’s the one who set me on the path that led to my practicing mindfulness, so I’m ever grateful for that. I think of us in those early days, when meditation was a new discovery, and how freeing that was, once you got the hang of it. 
I think of us in even earlier days, when I would sleep out in a tent in a friend’s backyard down the block and he and one of my other brothers would come up the alley tapping a cane and eventually sneak up on the tent and scare the bejesus out of us. We shrieked. We loved it. How could that same brother now be 65?
Do I really understand aging? It’s so damn gradual, creeping along in its teeny increments, and yet it’s relentless. And we know where it’s all headed.”

As we observed last week, the contemplation of impermanence is a big deal in Buddhism. I think because thorough these practices we can come to see death, in our bones and marrow, as no big deal. 

That it’s fundamentally fine and OK. 
I’ll leave you this week with one of my favorite poems of Alison Luterman:

I Confess
I stalked her in the grocery store: her crown

of snowy braids held in place by a great silver clip,

her erect bearing, radiating tenderness,

the way she placed yogurt and avocado’s in her basket,

beaming peach like the North Star.
I wanted to ask “What aisle did you find

your serenity in, do you know

how to be married for fifty years, or how to live alone,

excuse me for interrupting, but you seem to possess

some knowledge that makes the earth burn and turn on its axis—”

but we don’t request such things from strangers
nowadays. So I said, “I love your hair.”

What is this truth that “makes the earth burn and turn on its axis?”
Could it be that we are all fundamentally free and we need not worry about anything in this life?
What is this truth for you?
Aloha,Tom, Katina, and the kids

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