The last time mediation encourages us to treat each and every activity that fill our lives as if we were doing them for the very last time: the last time we take the dog for a walk, read a story to our children, go for a hike, have a drink with friends or make love to our significant other. The meditation encourages us to fully embrace and appreciate whatever it is we are doing, in the knowledge that it may be the last time we will ever do it. While I have from time to time managed to adopt this way of being, more often than not I don’t, lost in thought about something I should have done differently in the past or planning out what I will be doing in the next minute or hour of the day. That was until my Mum was diagnosed with dementia.
My Mum is someone who has packed a lot of life into her 87 years. She hitchhiked her way around Australia in her youth, worked all sorts of jobs overseas to help fund her desire to see the world, educated thousands of students in her over 30-years as a teacher, advocated for the rights of women and refugees, watched thousands of movies and read even more books, hosted lavish dinner parties and experienced loss of family and friends. I could always rely on her for sound financial and relationship advice, for conversations and insights on world events and social justice issues, great book and movie recommendations, as well as her always entertaining travel stories. Those are now mostly all gone, replaced in equal part by forgetfulness, anxiety and frustration as the disease menacingly takes hold. The mind that has provided me with so, so much over the years is slowly but surely diminishing in capacity.
The lesson, which I’m sure too often to forget, is to be really present for, and to fully appreciate, the next conversation I have with a friend, the special dinner occasion with my wife, the reading of a book to my grandson, the next conversation with a stranger or the finish line of my next ultra. Because as with anything, I will never really know if I’m doing that thing for the very last time.
Cover photo credit: Harli Marten on Unsplash