|Frank and Stella|
It's no secret that my mother and I get along great. Let's face it, how many guys can get away with calling their mothers by their first name? I have always used what the rest of the world calls her -Stella, and always will. It's a lovely name and suits her perfectly. Besides, it just seems to come so naturally for me to use her name instead of her title. In a sense, it cements our very deep bond, not only as mother and son, but as people and true friends, too.
One of the things that we share is a disdain for formal religious ritual. Stella has never really had a need for a physical church. Her house of worship lies deep within her very being. Therefore, she carries her temple with her wherever she goes. She prays where and when she wants to and finds the catalyst of a formal setting unnecessary. She is deeply spiritual but not traditionally religious. I inherited this mind-set from her and we often discuss it's meaning and that of life itself together.
In fact, it came up in one of our conversations just the other day.
Stella is aging. She's 93 and must face the reality that most of her life is well behind her. I know that this frightens her a bit, and rightly so. How many of us want to face the imminent reality of our own demise? And, because of her age, she must also deal with fact that she is losing many of her friends. She is outliving virtually all of them.
After the recent death of a good friend's husband, she was feeling a little down. She wondered to me why there has to be so much pain associated with being alive. We are confronted with death and cruelty on virtually a daily basis (if you don't believe me, just turn on the TV). I agreed. But, I also said that life is beautiful, too. And, the best part is that, after all of these years of listening to Stella, she listened to me as I attempted to explain a life in balance - at least as I have come to understand it.
She concentrated intensely while I described the ancient concept (and, the beauty) of Yin and Yang.
Yin and Yang was developed in China sometime around the 3rd Century BCE. The concept is embodied by this symbol -
It is perfect in form and concept. Black and white are perfectly intertwined with half the symbol in each color. Further, there is a dot of black in the white section and, conversely, a dot of white in the black. This, of course, represents the perfect balance that is life - it is neither ALL light nor ALL dark. And, even when it appears that it is, at least mostly, there is a spot of one within the other - BALANCE. Life contains ALL things. It's how we INTERPRET those events that makes all the difference. This balance will NEVER change. Therefore, the key to a happy life is in accepting ALL of what it has to offer. When we do this, our concept of what is actually good and what is bad changes - in the end, they really become one and the same. It reinforces the popular slogan: THE WORLD IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT.
Stella nodded several times in approval. I believe that she understood and agreed. It certainly seemed to comfort her. She may be 93 but one of the keys to her longevity has always been her ability to listen and to accept new thinking. It's one of the things that she has so frequently said to me: when you close your mind, you're finished! Well, Stella is FAR from finished. We ended our conversation like we always do: I love you, Frankie. And, I replied: I love you, MOM!
Truly YIN and YANG.