It Is What It Is

"The present is the only time we can choose between love and fear." Jerry Jampolsky, Teach only Love

The aging body frequently provides an opportunity to practice focusing on the present instead of the past or future. When we are sick or injured, we spend a lot of mental energy trying to figure out the cause of sickness and pain in our bodies and often predict that the next moment will be like the last and this can cause endless misery and suffering.

The 5th principle states that" pain and other forms of fear disappear only when the mind is focused on love in this instant." It is an opportunity to call forth compassion towards what is instead of condemning what has changed or no longer is.

In the last several years, I have witnessed my aging parents struggle to keep their balance. Unfortunately, falls can be quite devastating when the body lives beyond 80 years. Bones can become more brittle, and skin thins resulting in serious wounds from a stumble. I remember the doctor telling my mom that my Dad's "old brain" may not recover from his stroke. "Unfortunately, the problem is age,age,age." he said compassionately. Practicing love and acceptance of this reality can be difficult.

My Dad lost his balance after suffering from back pain and finally strokes which eventually caused his death a year ago, but my mom had never had any difficulty with walking until she fell off a carousel. She misjudged her step and found herself on the ground unable to get up. Both of my parents had lived active lives and enjoyed good health. They had traveled the world and in their retirement years, gave much of their time towards service to others in the form of volunteering. Watching my Dad deteriorate physically and mentally for several years before his death and then seeing my Mom's pain and disability with a fractured pelvis scared us all. Focusing on the past and worrying about the future made it hard to accept the change in their bodies, and it was even harder for them.

Babies struggle to learn to walk but never pause to analyze why they fall down but instinctively know that they are learning lessons…adults don't seem to accept that. To live life peacefully, no matter what condition the body is, one must learn to stop judging. Acceptance is the beginning of learning to love "what is"… Jerry Jampolsky tells us that "Love looks upon the world peacefully and accepts. Success lies in how we try and not in our or other people's appraisal of the effect."

And so, "it is what it is" became my mom's mantra after Dad died, and then again during her recovery from a fractured pelvis. Things had changed, and she reminded herself of that daily when she became focused on a future outcome that was sometimes fearful. During the first year after Dad died, she would say this, and it would ease her grief and help her to slowly accept life without him. However, when she fell ten months later, she became very fearful; she couldn't walk without assistance and needed help caring for herself. Once again, I heard her mantra. Fortunately, her fierce independence and tremendous capacity of love for her family gave her strength.

The love that she gives and receives helps ease her fears, and she is grateful for her healing progress instead of being impatient and frustrated. She has learned new lessons through her ordeal; she walks more carefully, exercises regularly to keep strong, and rests when she is tired. She never misses an opportunity to attend a family celebration, have lunch with a friend, attend musical concerts, and rarely misses church; she even hosted Thanksgiving for us this year…only 5 months after her fall.

"It is what it is" has become a way to turn quickly from the past and enjoy the present where life is taking place and experience the love that is all around her. It is not an angry resolve but a quiet place in her heart to feel love. Instead of worry, I have seen her take action.

Today is New Year's Eve; it is a time when we look back at the year that is past and wish everyone at midnight happiness in the New Year. Tonight, eleven of us will gather at my mother's house for a quiet dinner and evening of card playing. It is fun, and I will be home before midnight warm in my bed on a snowy, wintry night grateful for "what is."