Sunday, January 9, 2011

Back to School Again!

                                                                                     B Kriegler
A few weeks ago, I made an unfortunate error while checking a text message on my cell phone. Instead of deleting only the message I’d just read, I mistakenly pressed a key that caused all my text messages to self-destruct. Although I frantically tried to get this automatic erasure to cease—even repeatedly stabbing at the “off” button in total panic—within seconds my inbox was reduced to zero. All one hundred text messages were gone in a flash!
            “So what?” you might reasonably ask.
            The cause of my distress—I actually felt a sense of sorrow and loss--was the fact that among those trite and useless text messages were a number of witty, clever, and hysterically funny missives from my three sons (two of whom are in college). It was my intention to never, ever delete those messages, in the same way that I have never thrown out their very first baby outfits or their Cub Scout badges.
            In the world of yoga (which I frequent daily), we call the ability to quit clinging “practicing nonattachment,” and it’s a concept with which I have always struggled. I have always been inordinately attached to people, places, and things, including mailboxes and mailmen, sweaters that my deceased mother gave me a dozen or more years ago, lakes, trails, seashells and pebbles, earrings, ancient letters, and yes, even text messages.
            You might think parenthood would have cured me of this, and in fact, it has helped somewhat. After all, while raising children one is constantly reminded that nothing stays the same, that the toddler trying to climb up on the coffee table is now a ten year old shooting hoops in the backyard, is now a teen sneaking a beer from the back of the fridge, is now a college student loping off to his dorm and a life all his own. But even with this knowledge, it’s difficult to let go. Of just about anything, it seems.
 Today I delivered my youngest son back to school for spring semester, and once again I felt sorrow. If I can’t part with text messages (let’s not even discuss the thousands of old emails on my computer), how can I once again say good-bye to my kids?
And yet, I must. So as I send them on their way once again, I try to think positively and practice nonattachment: on the up side, there will be less laundry, fewer trips to the grocery store, and a whole new slew of clever texts to look forward to.
Will I delete them as they come in? Not on your life. But maybe I won’t have to: one day, text messages will no doubt be obsolete, as will my current cell phone.
Addendum: I made a lovely photo of my son loping toward his dorm today, carrying his bags and guitar.  But I accidentally deleted it on my new digital camera.

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