I am sitting in a Mill Valley room, my 87 year-old father snoozing in the next bed over. We came down from Sac this morning during the weather break and hiked the Tennessee Valley trail to the Pacific. How special it is to do this with the man who taught me to love hiking, noticing every little thing the earth offers up, every different wildflower, those wild looking reeds, the stands of eucalyptus, the whole experience wrapped inside a peek-a-boo sun and the cold whip of wind. Precious time. The day before this one, a priceless 24 hours with 4 generations: a walk in McKinley Park, dinner together, the Railroad Museum, simply passing the time.
Mostly I float around in the world vaguely rootless, it is like that for so many of us in the New World. We leave home as soon as we can and carve our own independent paths in the world. We anchor ourselves in community of our own making, people we choose for one reason or another, people of our own liking. In this brave new world, if we get uncomfortable, it is possible to ditch the communities we create for ourselves by simply dropping out or moving away. In the old days, our need for community was filled by our own flesh and blood and it didn’t matter if these people were perhaps not your preferred company, they were yours and you hung with them.
There is something so exquisite in this family experience for us. It goes right to the heart of the happiness question. When we think that our happiness depends on how the people around us behave (if only…[fill in the blank]…) or how we believe we are being treated by others (if only…[fill in the blank]…), we are in for big heap of suffering. When we spend time with family, there is no way around this. We simple cannot discard them. And as we stay with, as we hang in there, as we ride the roller coaster, in the end we are rewarded with the big one: what it means to truly love and be loved. Which is not always easy. Which might take a lifetime to appreciate. Which is totally worth it. Which is maybe why we were put on this earth to begin with.
Rumi says it for us all:
Let yourself be silently drawn
by the strange pull of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray.
The pull of what you really love is strong this week, especially on the dance floor. Come out for the last Thursday Winter Waves before we take a one week break and start Spring Waves. Come out and dance Friday, Saturday and Sunday to explore Light & Shadow (see family commentary above) and come to Sweat Your Prayers on Sunday morning, augmented with live drumming and song. “It will not lead you astray.”