filial piety

February 25, 2013  •  208 Comments

 art elder sketch, 9"x12", pencil on paper, 2013 A short story of one. I was surprised to come to my Art With Elders Class today and be joined by Mr. X. I am always mildly encouraging him to participate, for he hangs around the class and gives praise but always responds with self doubt. "oh, I can't do that", "i'm too old", etc. Though I like to think I'm not aggressive, he would begin only to show up when class was over. I had lost any hope in him participating, though he seemed more curious than anything. And so too my surprise, he would sit at the table last week and ask 'what should we draw?". X is in his early eighties, and focuses on either his health or finances whenever I greet him with social courtesy of 'how are you?'. His answers are always unfortunately negative, and more unfortunately this is the reality of his circumstances. And so the beauty of the situation is watching him suddenly so deeply focused and involved in trying to get the shape of the head he is drawing correct, that nothing else matters. Nothing exists other than solving drawing problems, and attaining results that show accomplishment. When we start to put the features of the face in, he is so surprised in himself that he wants to stop the drawing where its at, though it is still in the beginning stages. He is suddenly proud of his reality. This is coming from someone who tells me that he was a retired salesman that is no longer of any use/value to the world. The nurses comment on his wonderful endeavor as well, and he asks if he can take the drawing to his room to work on it some more when class is over. Today, a week later, he is the first sitting at the table with pencil in hand. I witness this experience time and time again in the program, and it never gets old. The Buddha said 'what you focus on becomes your experience'. It is awesome how people living in circumstances where they are near the end, existing in circumstances centered around the bodies decline can still smile and experience happiness. Mr.X and others are breathing examples of the Buddhas words, and are teachers in this way for example, of the power of the mind and how in its nature, can always be transformed. I can never think you enough elder friends. You are the teachers of filial piety, for you are further down the path and there is always much to be learned from your experience.


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