Last month my life was temporarily turned upside down.

My wife’s father is 89 years old and has end stage kidney disease. He is in the twilight of his time on Earth.

And one morning we woke up to a text saying they had found him unresponsive and taken him to the hospital.

It was stable, they said, but it was unclear exactly what happened or why. We all expected him to live at least 6-12 months.

Despite his condition, his spirit was still bright and undaunted.

But as you know, at a certain point, when it comes to terminal illnesses, things can happen quickly.

Denver to London

So we hurriedly bought three plane tickets from Denver to London and left in the wee hours of the morning. When we were done and hit the sack, we had little time to plan or pack.

The next thing we knew, we were staying in London with my wife’s brother. It was our first morning and I wanted to run away.

I was annoyed as I ran down the familiar streets that led to the Thames Path along the grand old river that I had run countless times before.

That is, I was angry with everyone who passed by me.

I was angry!

Why did that guy get so close to me? Why didn’t he give me more space? It must be something to do with people in England. Blah Blah Blah.

My thoughts grew darker as I ran, reflecting on the friction and stress of the morning’s angry exchanges with my wife and daughter. It was their fault, of course, to look for the reasons for this.

And then suddenly it hit me like a bolt. “I’m pissed off!”

It was so simple, but the moment I realized it, all those cumulonimbus clouds swirling above my head parted and the proverbial light shone.

Actually, I said it out loud. “I’m angry! I’m really angry!”

It all makes sense

Everything inside me settled down and it all fell into its logical place.

I am a creature of habit. I love my routine. I like to plan and account for as many variables as possible. Mainly to keep myself comfortable and protect myself from the unexpected. And this is especially true when traveling.

I don’t like to be rushed when buying high-ticket items like 10-hour nonstop plane tickets.

So, yes, my cozy, controlled and predictable little world—which I hold dear—was thrown into constant chaos the moment we heard about my wife’s father.

Moreover, death itself was on top of everything. The latest x-factor. Messing up the whole family.

And I realized that there is certainly more going on in my little human family ecosystem than I can properly process and account for.

And they all probably felt out of control.

As soon as I got home, I shared this idea with my wife. And indeed, during the trip, this idea came up in many ways. And it was a useful and enlightening thought.

If You Know Its Name You Can Tame It

In my last post I wrote about perspective. And how, “if you can name it, you can tame it.” And I wanted to share this story because it was a very clear example of this principle in action.

What does all this have to do with meditation?


I can safely say that without my daily meditation practice, it would not have occurred to me to step outside of the psycho-emotional drama of the moment and question it so objectively.

In fact, I doubt I would have the metacognitive capacity to do so.

Building perspective through meditation

But in meditation, we are constantly facing the reality and essence of our experience moment by moment. And with that, through careful and compassionate self-observation, we begin to know ourselves.

Over time, we find that we can break out of any mental and emotional patterns or deeply held narratives that we have lost.

Like walking across a fast-flowing river to safe and stable land.

From this new vantage point, we can watch it roll by, untouched and motionless by the accelerating current.

Eventually, as our own internal dramas become less sticky and unattractive, we draw our attention to the calm and stable place beneath our feet that we are constantly discovering.

And then we realize that it has always been there. Beneath the surface of the stream of thought. Motionless. Unshakable. And it’s always available. But that’s a topic for another time…

I’d love to hear if this story resonates with you too. If you found it useful, please leave me a comment to let me know.

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