In my most recent post I wrote about my mother’s death and the subtle but essential influence she, and other elders and ancestors, have on me and my family. As I continue to grieve this loss I find myself re-experiencing mom every day. Maybe it’s a memory that arrives spontaneously, seemingly out of nowhere. Maybe it’s a taste, smell, or sound that evokes an image or a thought. Mostly it’s intentional thought, simply deciding to think about mom, what she meant to me and our family, her good, bad and ugly (yes, let’s be real; we ALL have some ugly), and I smile or even laugh and then get back to the business of the day. For what choice do I have? Or you, for that matter? Life is for the living; like Auntie Mame said, “life is a banquet!”
My wife pointed out a passage from Tiffany Schlain’s book “24/6,” which I’ve reprinted below. The “Tech-Shabbat” she refers to is the essence of her book, the intentional practice of turning off our devices for a day every week and living an analog life. In this passage she’s musing about the impact of her father’s death on her own living. It’s quite good and informed my grieving and perhaps might help yours. The reference to “Blooma,” by the way, is to her then-newborn daughter of that name.
From 24/6 by Tiffany Schlain
In my father’s last months, I repeatedly asked him, what did he think was the meaning of life?
Here is what he eventually said to me: “Appreciate beauty. Plant gardens. Enjoy sunsets. Help people less fortunate than you. Think big. Nothing is more important than family. Be present.” Much later, I would realize these are exactly the things we do on our screen-free days.
I started doing Tech-Shabbats after the intense period when I lost my father and had Blooma within days. It was as if life grabbed me by the shoulders and stared into my eyes and said, Figure out what’s important!
Here’s the thing that’s most fascinating to me, nearly a decade after my father’s death: he is now infinite to me. While we are all human, fallible, imperfect beings who are all works in progress, if we attempt to live meaningful and purposeful lives and are present for those we love, we can live forever.
Someone once told me: whenever you are doing something that the person you lost loved to do, you bring them back. So while I write this book in the darkness of five a.m., when my dad also loved to write; clap through tears at the end of a fantastic film in a packed theater; thrust my own finger in the air and say “Tradition!” while eating a bagel, lox, and cream cheese; or appreciate the family sitting around the table — all things he loved — he is with me.
Here is the video of that day’s guided meditation:
And the audio of that day’s guided meditation: