Friday, July 07, 2006

The universal ache

The first time I noticed it was probably driving along the Pacific Coast Highway of California, near Big Sur. I'd come over a hill and seen this absolutely breathtaking view of the coastline, with verdant green grass, impossibly black-blue water, fantastic rocks jutting out into the sea, and crashing waves. It was so beautiful it... hurt. It didn't hurt, exactly, but it wasn't only pleasant - it made me ache. But ache for what? And why an ache? I've never understood it.
I'm bringing it up now because that bitter/sweet ache reminds me of the feelings I have for my Grandmother who just died. In spite of missing her, it's not only unpleasant. It's sweet and warm and tender and vulnerable in the best possible way. It can't be placed on the scale of pleasant or unpleasant - it's on the scale of love. I'm reminded of a fragment of that definition of compassion - "a quivering of the heart." Unlike the song lyric, love doesn't hurt. You may hurt when you dare to love, but it's not the love that's painful; it's the baggage that comes along for the ride. In expansive moments of connection with the "other," whether it's Grams or the ocean, and you feel that ache - it's like love recognising itself.
I've been really moved by all the kind things people wrote in response to my last message. They wrote of memories of their own grandparents, and what it meant for them when they passed. We're really not alone in this. Thank you all for reminding me of that.
Too much love,
p.s. I'm 50 today! But I don't know which part of me is 50. I'm still looking - and I'll let you know.
I don't have a photo of my Grandma with me, so I chose some other beautiful Grandma's to stand in her place. The photo below includes a leper, a tea picker, a Tibetan - and a whole lot of Grandma love.
(The End)