Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Let me 'splain. (pause) No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
What is the total summation of a life? I spent most of the evening going through photos. Photos to organize, photos to email, photos to crop, photos that needed more color, photos that needed less color, photos that needed more clarity, old photos that needed to look new, new photos that needed to look old . . . stuff like that. And I came across these two photos. One is a compilation of photos of my aunt that passed away last December. The other photo is a collection of her favorite things: the Lakers and the Raiders.
A few days ago, I was at my cousin's house and she showed me a talk that my aunt had written to present to her Buddhist group. The talk detailed how she first learned about Buddhism, and the course her life was on prior to joining, and the course her life took once she had joined. After giving in to a friend's invitation she finally decided to attend a meeting. That was in June of 1983. She went to the meeting thinking, "What the hell -- if it doesn't change a thing, then oh well!" But that night was a start. That night was the beginning of a philosophy of life that gave her meaning and a sense of purpose; it gave her a reason. For the first time in a long time, she felt peaceful and calm, and she knew that happiness was on it's way.
So, let me ask you again, what is the total summation of a life? When my youngest brother passed away in 2001, I was riddled with guilt because I knew that I was not the sister that I should have been to him. For all the struggles he had in his life, for the all the mistakes that he made, for all the trouble that he caused, his life's course brought him to a point where he was at peace with himself and the person he was becoming. And all the people that traveled so far to say farewell to him was a testament to the man he had become.
Again, I pose the question, what is the total summation of a life? When my father passed away in 2004, I thought my world could not possibly exist as it had before. He was the core of our family, if he was gone then what would become of us? My father, opened himself up to a different way of believing. He stepped outside his tenured beliefs and began to walk and live a new faith. He changed his life for us, for himself. I didn't think it was fair that he was no longer with us. And because of that, I have been upset with God for quite some time now. But I know that dad wouldn't want me to throw away all the things that I know out of spite. I learned more about myself from him than I realized. I learned more about life; more about my mother; more about what I should expect of myself, what he expects of me, and what he expects me to do about it.
Photographs, mementos, journals, and letters, are merely things left by those who come in and out of our lives. But it's the person, it's the life that person lived, the lessons that person taught, the foundations that person established, the love that person represents . . . what is the total summation of a life?