Last weekend I attended an event which featured a walking meditation. As we walked, we were instructed to notice our breath and our movement. We kept going, and were told to imagine the past, our ancestors, stretched before us, as if we were following in their footsteps… And then we were told to imagine the future behind us.
(Huh? Isn’t the future supposed to be in front of me?)
It took a second for the idea to click… I wasn’t supposed to imagine my future, I was supposed to envision my legacy. Wow, what a twist on the way we usually think!
Consider the ripple effect of any random event in your daily life: picking up a piece of trash on your way across a parking lot, smiling at the cashier at the grocery store, scowling at the waiter who unknowingly served you cold spaghetti, poking fun at a new employee… Who’s watching? And what are they learning from you? Do you leave people with a sense of joy and acceptance? Or fear and shame? As the future unfolds in the wake of your footsteps, what does the world look like? Is it a cleaner, happier and more loving place? Or is it a darker, more menacing one?
If we apply this line of thinking to a divorce, does it cause you to reconsider your actions? What seeds are planted when one repeatedly berates his/her ex in front of the children? Or when a man speaks ill of his children’s mother to anyone who will listen? When we demand instead of ask? What kind of world is born when a mother tells her children to respect their teachers, but curse at their stepmother?
On the other hand, what will flourish when we sow seeds of respect, forgiveness, communication and cooperation?
What will children of divorce learn about handling conflict? Will the thought of a romantic partnership fill them with excitement or dread? Will they believe themselves to be marvelous and lovable? Or will they shamefully cower under the knowledge that their DNA is 50% “jackass”? Will they believe in the worth and beauty of all humanity? Or only a certain, chosen few?
We’ve all heard the statistics: about half of today’s children will experience the breakup of their parents’ marriage. As divorce tests our patience, focus and emotional stability, we must meet the challenge with love and respect in order to grow greener grass in tomorrow’s pasture.
The future isn’t waiting for us, it’s created by us, for those behind us.