Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What really matters

A number of years ago, a young family was on the Oprah show—a mother, father, and two kids—and the mother was dying. She had a number of months to live and she was making videotapes of all the very mundane, ordinary things in our lives that she wanted her kids to know about after she was gone. She was doing videotapes of things like when to get your hair cut and how to steam an artichoke and how to tell when you’re in love, both big and little things. As part of this process, she and the father took these kids on incredible trips to Disneyland and beyond to try and impress on these young minds the memory of this woman who wouldn’t be with them very long. After she died, Oprah invited this family back to the show, and the kids were there and Oprah said to them—thinking they would comment on these incredible trips they had taken—‘What is one of your fondest memories of your mom?’ And the little girl said something that was so striking. What the little girl said, instead of talking about Disneyland and swimming with the dolphins, what she said was, ‘I remember one time when my mom asked me to get her a bowl of Cheerios and we ate them together.’ I am so struck by that; apparently it’s not the big things, it’s not the things we plan for months, it’s not the Broadway musical numbers we create in our lives. It’s the tiny things that have more meaning.
So, should we be looking at our lives in a different way—as if the extraordinary is the thing that is in front of us all the time and not the thing we need to seek? Just how precious is an ordinary day? What are the things of our lives—whether it’s relationships, routines that we have or the things we see around us; and if everything else fell away but what we see, would we be happy? Is it our task to say a wholly ‘yes’ to the real things in our lives? Not the big things, not the powerful things, not the neat things that have the feng shui all figured out but rather the bowl of Cheerios and the junk drawer? Can you can find meaning in anything and everything in your life? What is in front of you? Not what you hope to be in front of you or what your life plan says should be in front of you, but what is in front of you—the relationships, the people, the colors, the smells—everything you find around you all the time. Can you find meaning in what is really in front of you?
Author Alfred de Souza once said, "For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin; real life. But there were always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt left to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." I think he summed up my life in that quote! But the question is, "Can I find the meaning in the obstacles?"

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this post today. So, so beautiful.