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Author : Nina Sakun

When my mother died, now almost 4 years ago, among many other responses that I would have expected like grief, sadness, even anxiety I had one very unexpected response: I could only remember her goodness toward me. That is, with my brain I certainly could remember what a hard time the two of us had with one another all my life. I remember driving one time to her home which was about 50 miles away from where I lived; as I was coming closer I had the sensation that I was being asked to drive into a tiger’s open mouth. And yet right after her death at the heart level - after she died, that was where I was for a long time - at the heart level, all I could remember was her goodness and caring. I actually wondered how anybody could have come up with the saying: do not speak ill of the dead. To me,it seemed impossible to speak ill of my mother now that she had died because I absolutely could not think ill of her. Somehow the goodness that was part of our relationship absolutely flushed all the difficult moments out of my memory.

I had always tried to give her appropriate credit for her goodness while she was alive. My father died decades earlier when I was barely a teenager and I knew as a single parent she was trying to be a “good” parent. In fact, she did much more than could have been expected of her. But the best I could do emotionally was to be a fair “bookkeeper” to her good parent.

One day shortly after the funeral I was walking in the park where we had walked together almost daily the preceding five years. My mother had sold her house and had moved closer to me. In these last five years, we lived about five minutes from one another. I looked at the pond with great sadness recalling how we used to enjoy watching the geese and ducks as they formed families in the spring and left in the fall. It was still technically summer but the geese were gone. As in the previous years, they had left early, in early August, so much earlier than necessary I always thought with sadness even when my mother was alive. Now that she was gone their absence was unbearably poignant. We loved to observe these goose families together. Unlike the ducks where the poor mother duck was left to take care of her unruly little ones by herself, the geese were exemplary parent couples and the babies were exemplary goose babies. The mother and father would take up their protective positions at the front and the back of the row of youngsters swimming in a neat line between them. It was very easy to get attached to these families that we turned into our extended family, the happy goose families but also the struggling duck families.

On that one day, suddenly I saw this pond, now almost empty, as if infinitely deep, with its surface covered with a thin layer of fire flames. My mother’s goodness and her anger showed up as this pond with a cover of flames! But what I had previously perceived as her essence of anger turned out to have been a gossamer-thin surface web of little flames. And yet I had not able to jump through it.

Some years ago I had a friend who actually did a firewalk, I think someplace in Hawaii with one of those confidence-building gurus. Somehow, with the right attitude. she said it is possible to walk on burning coals, or actually the burning embers. When she had told me about it I found it incredible that somebody could consciously decide to walk on burning coals. She said that most people in her group took the challenge and were successful.

A little research on this tells me that it is not actually a matter of attitude, or supernatural faith but really simple physics having to do with thermal conductivity. Heat from the embers cannot be transferred to feet quickly enough to burn them if you walk quickly and lightly enough.
Also one cannot run because then the feet sink deeper and burning can result.

I have been trying to practice firewalking since that day. A few days ago, I had a check-up visit with my doctor. For some complicated reasons, he was extremely angry with me, implying that I had stupidly put him into a difficult situation. His anger, although not quite explicit, was still scary enough. Once again I was facing an angry tiger’s open mouth. I really did not want to be left without a doctor and yet I needed to stand my ground and not run from the fire. So I repeatedly insisted on explaining what had happened from my perspective.
I guess I somehow found the sweet spot where I was walking briskly, but not running, and especially not refusing to step into the fire. And, miracle of miracles, I did not get burned. We reached an understanding.

Happy firewalking everybody!

Author's Resource Box

I have been studying all my life. Lately, that is for the last 20 years, it has been Buddhism. I have also studied German and chemistry. I studied chemistry so that I would always be able to have a job after I did not finish my German Ph. D. But mostly I have been collecting metaphors.

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Tags:   anger, families, courage, firewalking

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Submitted : 2019-08-20    Word Count : 854    Times Viewed: 1184