Being December 1st, today is World AIDS Day—a good day to dedicate some consciousness to those who have died in the past 28 years, to those who today struggle with HIV and AIDS, particularly those without access to health care (in the US this is estimated to be well over three hundred thousand people).
Part of my intention in this blog is to further the possibility that part of the answer to our modern struggles with parenting, alienation, meaning and purpose is to be found in consciousness. It is said that right thinking leads to right action. While I’m disinclined to dictate action, or make claims about what would be “right,” I do trust that mindfulness and compassion tend to be good for ourselves and for all of our collective children.
As parents we experience all sorts of losses, some normative and some tragic; we confront the specter of our deepest dreads—tragedy befalling a child, or tragedy befalling ourselves and thus leaving us unable to care for our child. Such issues can range from physical illness, mental illness, general misfortune and the cruelty or indifference of others. Yet as a society we tend to deny losses.
For a number of years I worked at a clinic with severely troubled children. As a supervisor involved with training interns I taught a seminar about termination in therapy and I would always start the seminar by reading a passage from one of my favorite novels, The Sheltering Sky, by Paul Bowles. In the book the central character, Kit, has traveled from entitled 1920’s New York into the harsh North African desert with her lover, Port, who dies and leaves her abandoned and challenged to become her true Self.
Lying next to her dead lover, Bowles writes of Kit, “These were the first moments of a new existence, a strange one in which she already glimpsed the element of timelessness that would surround her.” Bowles eloquently captures the essence of shock, numbness and emptiness as he notes several poignant and ironic moments drawn from their former life together; moments Kit is NOT now thinking about: