“Mom, where are you?”
“I don’t know! But I was lost the last time I was here.”
My feisty mom, who moved from the Midwest to Los Angeles at the age of 62, always had to be on the go. LA’s infamous traffic, plus the confusing, hilly terrain in our neck of LA, daunts many newcomers. But my Mom refused to be cowed. That was pretty much her motto. If she wanted to do something, she refused to be cowed.
Long before Google Maps, she’d take off in her car for parts unknown, then call me asking for directions home. She lacked the patience to plot out her travels in the trusty old Thomas Guide map books, the way that David and I did when we first arrived.
Well, I’m sure she started out with a plan, then she’d make an impulsive turn to avoid a traffic jam, and end up who-knows-where. It all feels so familiar that I am sure I inherited these exact traits from her. Impatience with roadblocks is a core Leutjen Family Value.
But the likelihood of getting lost or hitting a dead never stopped her from going, going, going. I remember when LAPD was clearing the Venice Beach boardwalk to forestall a brewing riot, and my mom insisted upon going into one last shop for a souvenir. A nervous clerk rang up her sale, then rushed us out and locked the door behind us. Satisfied with her purchase, my mom consented to leave the boardwalk.
“I was lost the last time I was here.” That line keeps coming back to me, all these eleven years after her passing. It resonates now more than ever as I struggle to support my emotional well-being in these wrenching times. Just as my kids are coming into Adulting, the world is on fire, literally and figuratively. I wish that there was something I could do to ease their defeats and disappointments. The old kiss on the forehead and a Dora the Explorer Band-aid doesn’t suffice anymore.
I do my best to share the wisdom and practices I’ve gained, but the listening capacity is limited. And I get that. I can see my own eye-rolling, groaning behavior at their age whenever a Person Over 30 tried to tell me something. Wisdom is learned, not force fed.
So I am to teach by example. And, thanks to a bounty of teachers, I have a toolbox full of restorative and replenishing practices: meditation, yoga, prayer, journaling, intentional breathing, walking in nature, and studying the Masters among them.
When my knees scrape the pavement, I allow myself to shriek and wail. Then, before the neighbors can call the authorities, I get back to the Practices. Keep coming back to the toolbox even when—especially when—Life on Earth feels utterly hopeless. Keep employing the tools until I surrender into the Truth: This life is all on Purpose. I have all that I need to respond with heart and soul. I am—as each of us is—imbued with the holy, sacred essence that empowers, qualifies, and commands me to respond to the insanity du jour.
And so I do. Until “Too Much Awful News” knocks the wind out of me again, and I sink back into that deep, black pit of despair. Into that desperate place which feels all too familiar. “I was lost the last time I was here.”
Whether I’m feeling lost or found is a matter of my own perspective. Maybe it’s time to say, “I was FOUND the last time I was here.” On the floor, meditating, crying, breathing, praying.
This is where I am FOUND.
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