On Thursday, in the midst of dinner preparations, I sent Ryan to the store, and he brought along the boys. He took the outing as an opportunity to brief them on the latest and to explain how things are going to go for the next few months.
My middle child, Zac, surprises me every single day. He is brilliant, and sometimes I don’t even understand how smart he is. He is bright; he has a keen scientific mind, but beside that, he is such an astute observer of people and situations that he understands things before I do. I think all parents think that of their children, but even adults with no kids comment on his curiosity and his ability to pick up on things.
With that said, I guess it shouldn’t have been surprising that Zac not only knew why things at home were now pretty weird, despite our efforts to keep the weirdness away from him, but he knew exactly what cancer is. He explained everything perfectly; how cancer is “bad” cells, and how they multiply, and how doctors use drugs to stop the cells from multiplying.
He knew all of this. But we don’t know how he knew it. We didn’t know how much information to give him, so we gave him the basics in the very beginning, but there was no way he could have pieced together such a complete understanding with the information we gave him. Even more strange was his reluctance to talk any more about it.
“Zac, how do you know that?”, I asked.
“I just knew”.
“Did we tell you?”
I realized his teachers knew what was happening. “Miss Rose”, I asked.
“It’s a secret.”
“That’s going to stay locked up in my head.”
And I believe him. He’s never going to tell us. He can keep secrets like nobody’s business. Somehow, he felt the urge to find out things on his own, and he did, and I’m proud. What he found might have been scary for him, but I like to think it may have comforted him as well. I think I’ve learned not to shelter him.
Our friend Burt is involved with a local Buddhist temple that holds weekly Zazen mediation sessions. He invited Ryan and I.
I admit, I had the same preconceptions about meditation as most people. I didn’t know how much focus and concentration is required.
I noticed that the men leading the session were not guys off the street. These were leaders in the Buddhist temple, and they had brought along incense and other items from the temple. This, I realized, was more than a fun diversion. This was spiritual. As the leader explained the process, I knew that this was something I truly needed.
We were welcomed into the dojo, and the leader explained that in order to achieve the right frame of mind, I might want to start by simply counting my breaths. He then showed us the proper posture. We all sat cross-legged, but with our backs straight, and our shoulders up. It took so much effort to hold that posture for the first half hour of the session. Then, after a group walk around the room, we sat for another twenty minutes.
I knew nothing about meditation. I wasn’t supposed to clear my mind; my mind was being fully occupied with the task at hand. Thoughts of shopping or food or trivia simply had no room in my head. Every ounce of my brain was engaged in counting my breaths and maintaining my position.
I had never done anything like this before. It felt wonderful. The simple act of breathing became critical. I had never been so tuned into my own body before.
I’ve decided to go as often as I can. I think today might have been life-changing.