Beginner's Heart

Our family doctor’s son married in June. I wouldn’t know this, but he was talking weddings to my husband after our return from our son’s wedding. And what Dr. X said seemed rather sad, to me. Digression — are doctor/patient conversations privileged on BOTH sides?

Dr. X asked if my husband became ’emotional’ at or after the wedding. If it made Glen re-evaluate his life. At least that’s how I heard it, 2nd-hand. Because, Dr. X said, his son’s wedding had thrown him for a loop. Sent him in to a kind of tailspin. Metaphors of losing balance, of upheaval…

Dr. X said  his son’s & daughter-in-law’s vows were so beautiful that he thought: no woman has ever loved me like that. And ~ their life is just beginning, and mine is over. Please note: my doctor is married, a very nice man. We visit when I go for checkups, or the occasional problem. Sometimes I suggest books, and we talk about writing. I like and trust him.

So it worries me that he sounded — at least 2nd-hand — unhappy. Dissatisfied. He’s very well-liked at his clinic. And at other doctor’s offices — specialists whom he’s recommended for eyes, or joints 🙂 — the office staff there knows who he is. Often he’s their doctor too. And they like him. He’s that kind of guy — quietly funny, very smart, dedicated and professional.

Our son’s wedding to a wonderful woman was possibly the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever attended. Including all three of my sisters’, my brother-in-law’s, and my own. And their vows were transcendently lovely. Most of us sat, misty-eyed, as these two beautiful people plighted their troth (I love that phrase :). What it did for me — and for my husband — was remind us of life’s cycles. How this lovely young man, standing so tall and happy beside this beautiful young woman, had been our baby boy. Long-sought and welcome. And now he was getting married.

But for Dr. X, it reminded him — he said — that his life is over. That it has not turned out the way it might have. And that he will not live to see his grandkids grown.  Mind you, this guy is my age. So I don’t get it — that is sooo not what I thought watching N&E’s wedding…

This story, passed on from my husband, reminds me of what I’m learning from Buddhism. That nothing external will satisfy us forever, if we’re not happy inside. And that such happiness isn’t derived from a successful job (he has one). Or marriage (he has that too). Or even being a very nice person (which he is :)). It comes from something else… Many religions believe you only find ‘real’ happiness in faith. I don’t know about that — call me a Buddhist agnostic :).

What I do know is that for me, at least, happiness comes from the moment. From feeling the rush of blood as I stretch. From the fragrance of wet wood as I sweep the deck. From the bristly-but-soft fur of my dog’s coat as I pet him. From trying w/out trying (if that makes sense :)) to be present.

This is pretty Buddhist, I realise :). But it’s also good advice for all of  us. And I wish I could somehow convince dear Dr. X that his life is not over. It begins new & fresh, infinitely possible, every minute. Honest.

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