I’ve been spending a lot of time labouring (with love) in my garden and making rather slow progress on my promised post on Temples and Celebrations in Taipei. So I’m slipping in this little post to tie us over… It’s about a recent ordinary and magical meeting – with Errol.
It’s early March on my Vancouver Island home. Returning from a hike on Mt. Prevost, as I walk back to my car at Bing’s Creek, an elderly man gets out of his car and approaches me. His face mask hanging low in his face, his eyes watery and with a look of wonder, he asks me where he is and if I know how to get to Arbutus Ridge from here? I smile, instantly feel love and very caring towards him. He seems a little lost and there is an innocence about him I instantly connect with… We’re a good way from Arbutus Ridge, I explain, getting my phone out to show him the map. We’re north of Duncan, and AR is about 10 km south. Getting there is simple – at least in my mind. Straight down this road, across Hwy 18, past some farms, a couple of roundabouts, the Cowichan Commons Centre, then turn right on Hwy 1, and follow the Hwy through town and about 10 km south until you see the turn-off to Hutchinsons Road on the left. He still looks at me with wonder in his eyes… How about I take you to Hwy 1, I say. Just follow my car, the white Honda. Okay?! He smiles and shuffles back to his car. Should he be driving at all, I wonder? Oh well, let’s see how it goes (he got himself here after all). So off we go.
He follows closely and his driving seems alright. As we get to Hwy 1, I take him down a little, then wave to him to go on straight and turn right myself… Looking in the rear view mirror, I see he is still following me. Okay… I think I need to take him all the way. I pull over and get out to talk to him. Yep, he is “lost”, doesn’t know where we are or how to continue. I ask him for his address which he -after a thoughtful pause- provides. Phew! Okay, I know where this is, just keep following me, I will take you home. It’s about a 20-minute drive and all goes well.
Driving and checking my mirrors frequently, I feel such a connection with him, such tender care, such joy that I’m able to do something for him. As we say good-bye, he tells me that his memory returned once we turned onto Hutchinsons Road. He only moved here recently, he tells me. Some people wonder if he should be driving at all, he says. I respond that his driving skills seem to be fine, but that a GPS or smartphone, ideally one that talks, would be helpful. He had one in the car, he says, his son gave him one. It was stolen. Ah, I see. Do get a phone, something you can carry and also make calls with, I say with a smile. Yes. He agrees. That would be good. We both chuckle as he says, “It’s called aging, getting old.” We laugh. Yes! What a sweet man. I’m so touched by his vulnerability, being lost, and somehow in wonder of all this happening to him – just not able to remember the way home. He is so grateful. Offers his hand for a grateful last handshake, and I take it. And I am grateful to have met him, to do this little thing for him, to share this moment of love.
As my teacher Gangaji recently said in a podcast: This is the way of it. This is Life. Ultimately, we have no control, no matter how well we take care of our bodies and minds, finally the body begins to decay, the mind and its memory functions fail. We could look at it as the upside of aging – a final opportunity to realize that we are not in control; that clutching of what one thinks must happen only brings suffering; and the willingness to let go and see who you are, what is really here is where the mind stops its clutch and simply opens. Sigh…
To absolutely be with what is here, regardless of circumstances, of pleasure and pain. To simply let go and trust…
Thank you Errol. Thank you Life!