We make many choices every day. Most are made unconsciously. But the current trend of learning "mindfulness" asks us to bring more choices into the conscious mind and take more control instead of being buffered by distractions and unruly emotions. This morning, the Spring sun shines brightly after rain has scrubbed the air. The trees are alive with the racket of birds. On such days it's easy to choose to revel in the simplicity and beauty of being alive.
It must be much harder to make the decision to revel in being alive in the face of pain, disease and impending death. On a Facebook page called "Driving Miss Norma" we can be inspired by the story of one woman who found herself confronted with such a choice and decided to choose enjoying a life of travel instead of a life of medical procedures and hospitals. As the introduction to the page says: "At 90-years-old, Norma eschews assisted living after her husband suddenly dies and she is diagnosed with cancer. Instead, she is traveling in a motor home."
Of course, Norma isn't driving, she has accomplices. And she probably has never even heard of the term mindfulness. But somehow she had the "presence of mind" to choose to live in the world of people, fun, and travel while she still could, instead of trying to prolong her life at all costs. (It's hard to tell if Norma is actually still with us as there haven't been any updates for quite a while.)
Those of us who have the luxury of good health and time, can certainly learn to live more in the moment as if it could all go away in an instant. Indeed it can. A heart attack, a car accident, the onset of cancer, could each happen to any of us. Did you know that sepsis, the disease that killed actress Patty Duke at the age of 69 kills over 200,000 people each year in the U.S? Not that we should spend our time needlessly worrying. Quite the opposite. The goal is find a way, a practice of becoming more aware of what a gift each moment is.
It's certainly easier to do so on a beautiful Spring morning. But with some actual practice, we can prepare ourselves to maintain that awareness and appreciation in even the most dire of circumstances. We can learn to transcend fear and despair even as we acknowledge what darkness might surround or infuse us. What better way than to spend a few minutes each day in practice?
If you technology to help you do just about anything, here is a list of IPhone and Android Mediation Apps.