Sunday, February 7, 2010

Connecting in the dark

My 88 year old dad called me in the middle of the snowstorm to tell me that the electricity was out but that he and his wife were fine. He told me that he wasn't sure how long his cell phone charge would last. He told me that a kind neighbor had shoveled their stoop and that, although the street was not plowed, he could at least walk to it. He said it was cold in the house, but the stove and plumbing were still working fine.

I am 350 miles away. There was a flood of feelings at his call. I heard the exuberance in his voice over the beauty of the storm, the slight edge of anxiety over the unknown duration of the power outage and its implications, and the pleasure that he could share his adventure with me even so far away. Whether I had been concerned about him or not, his reaching out to me brought me into his experience and placed him solidly in my day. I told him to turn off his phone to save charge, and that I would like to hear from him later to get a progress report.

The blizzard opens that energy channel of compassion that connects us. Sharing food, a fireplace, shovels and playfulness, people in my father's neighborhood feel a natural inclination to connect to one another, be helpful, and even to ask for help. His call to me spread this even deeper into our relationship, allowing us to feel the closeness of people who care for and support one another from any distance. It was not always so.

The freedom in this relationship has evolved in the same space that the neighborhood snowstorm connections have grown. Understanding that we share a set of conditions by being human beings, whereby we suffer more without one another than we suffer with each others' open hand and steady gaze. The position or stature of father-daughter became irrelevant when the channels opened. Past history, inner turmoils, what I call "the story" faded away. It is the release of judgment, the end of the attachment to the roles of the past and the projections of the future that liberated us. Just as in the snowstorm, from miles away I can help him shovel and throw a snowball from his front stoop. Not warning him of this or that, nor directing his attention here or there, I can just let him feel my presence beside and in him, my willingness to include his wellbeing in my own heart.

1 comment:

  1. I read this when you first posted and just reread. I have my mom 2 floors away in the same building and sometime it feels like it's 350 miles away, but then at times I realize how lucky I am to have her so close. Freedom is not about distance or proximity, right? ;-)