My father was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer six months ago. As you can imagine, it has been a challenging and tumultuous time for my family. There have been many trips to specialists across the state, various tests, procedures and treatment protocols. My goal has been to help my father navigate this diagnosis and be a support for him in any way possible.
What I noticed recently was that while I was anxious and worried about the next steps in his treatment or the progress of the disease, my dad was not experiencing this same level of anxiety. I sat back and observed objectively how he had been dealing with his diagnosis and handling all the twists and turns we have encountered during this process. I realized that while my dad was accepting of his current circumstances, he didn’t allow the circumstances to define or change him. He was still his optimistic, happy, friendly and good-natured self. He manages to stay in the moment and doesn’t lament his situation or spend his time fearing the future or engaging in worst-case scenario thinking.
This realization and acknowledgement of how he was handling everything made me see things in a whole new light. I thought that I was helping him, but maybe he was helping me? Helping me to see there was a way to traverse life’s most challenging circumstances with peace, joy and an open heart. By surrendering to the moment in front of you while still holding to the image of health, wholeness and restoration. These are the same ideas and teachings presented by the mystics and wisdom teachers throughout the ages.
My dad isn’t a yogi or a mystical spiritual teacher by traditional standards. But in so many ways that is what he has been for me during this time. Demonstrating grace under pressure and love enduring, while steadfastly believing that all things are possible. These realizations made me pause to consider how often in our lives we set out to help our family, friends or animals and end up being the recipient of these unexpected gifts of wisdom.
I guess the answer to the question, “who’s helping who”, is really that we are all helping one another. While I may be helping my dad navigate a challenge in the three-dimensional world in regards to doctor visits, insurance claims and treatment plans, he is providing me a valuable lesson on how to navigate the same challenge on an emotional and spiritual level by remaining peaceful and surrendered to what is unfolding in the present moment.