I am not a Buddhist. I've never been able to Be.Here.Now.
I've shuttled between nostalgia for the past and dreams for the future: When I Open A Southern Restaurant In Seattle; When I Build A Cabin On My Land In The Ozarks; When I Win The Lottery And Continue To Work Because I Am Just Wired Up That Way...
But I'm going to practice this "being present to the moment" business. I've known for about a month that my Dad's lymphoma had likely returned. All the symptoms from last time were there, and each sequential appointment--first with the family doctor, and then the blood labs, and then the oncologist, and then the scans, and then the biopsies--have all led, incrementally, from likely to certainly.
And over the weeks, I have gone from dread to denial to hope to sullenness to fatigue to joy many times over. Mostly I've been preparing myself to shore up my folks, and I confess that I've dwelled on the less hopeful scenarios (even though Dad's oncologist is hopeful about treatment).
But here's the deal: Dad is alive right now, and every second I spend not Being.Here.Now is a waste. It's like standing at a full well, dipping up bucket after bucket of refreshing water, even as I moan about eventual thirst. We have time yet.
Now, at Thanksgiving, I'm going to do the things my father has taught me: to love cooking and music; to lay a perfect fire in the fireplace; to have an outsized capacity for wonder; to excel at laughing; to embody pragmatism and idealism at one and the same time; to feed the birds puffed up on my frozen back deck rail; and to always, always, recognize the power of story.
I'll be home in a month. Meanwhile, there's firewood on the front porch and it's a snow day. Time to make pie and have a big glass of cool, clear water.