A Zen buddhist teacher told me once – anything that happens in life is an opportunity to practice. I remember my feeling of irritation when she first said that to me. As the years pass I think of her and her statement often. Whatever it is that is happening – if I can suspend my judgement and not label it as good or bad, but just as what is, I have taken away one more obstacle.
I think of Emma, beautiful, amazing Emma, who is unique and like no other child. Her autism is neither good nor bad, but what is. Even as I write this I can feel the tug in my chest, the little voice whispering to me, no – it is bad. As though by accepting I will have given up. As if my judgement will somehow make it go away. As though the label will somehow change it. I am not in the we-must-accept-and-do-nothing group. I am in the – my labeling her autism or anything else for that matter as bad does not take it away – camp. It just adds one more thing that I am fighting.
My practice is to continue the fine art of balancing what is with what I wish to be. What I wish for, what I hope for, what I work so hard for is to help Emma become more independent. To celebrate her strengths, to encourage her to sing, to join her in her joy of music, to push her to work on her spelling, reading, writing, typing, math and language. To gently lead her away from her rigidity, to embrace her silliness, to urge her to explore and be curious. While I am doing that, I continually remind myself that each moment is a moment that simply is.
Emma is and for that I am eternally grateful.
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to: www.Emma’s Hope Book.com
New York City Empire State Building taken from the High Line last night.