I’m not going to spend a lot of time explaining these words because I replaced them two days after Thanksgiving. My “Oh” sounds like “Oh, I didn’t know that, but it is a pleasure to learn.” “And” means more or different information isn’t a contradiction but an addition. And “Yes” expresses my willingness to acknowledge whatever arises.
But on my way back from my Thanksgiving visit to my son, 28 year-old grandson and five-year-old granddaughter in Los Osos, I came up with a new three-word philosophy. I kept the “And” as crucial to non-duality, and put “This” in the first and third position to produce “This And This.”
To imagine me discovering meaning in these particular three words, two of which are the same, you have to see me behind the wheel on cruise control with inactive feet and legs, traveling north on 101 around 7:30 a.m., arms equidistant from each other on the wheel. Just as the thought of multiple ways of perceiving the world came to mind, I had an “Oh” moment and my arms vibrated. I needed that embodied experience to know that this thought has legs. I was thinking about the other grandma to my granddaughter and contrasting our styles of grandparenting.
In Los Osos both of us were staying in my son’s house, sharing the pleasures and the frustrations of our five-year-old charge. At first, the other grammy’s style annoyed me. Why should the child need her long hair brushed out of her eyes every time it ecaped from its rubber band? She could see well enough, as far as I could tell. Moreover, each time the brush neared her, she screamed and tossed her unkempt hair into real disarray. Faced with such a mop head, I mostly didn’t care enough to press the issue. However, the other grammy approached the problem stealthily, circling behind the couch, grabbing the hair and somehow with much reassurance that it would not hurt and would only take a minute, tying it back again. This gambit gained her temporary control.
I admit I preferred my way of coping with stray hair, the no-way way. I thought that by insisting at that moment, the other grammy needed to imprint the little girl’s experience with her approval or disapproval. That was my way of sitting by and judging. I, on the other hand, sat silent or played with the little girl as if I too were five.
Leaving Los Osos and the other-grammy experience behind, I had that “Oh” moment in the car. It occurred to me that one way of being with this child might not be better than the other. Did both ways have value? Did I think the order-imposing grammy was inferior to the grammy who mostly let the child have her own way?
I must have really needed to feel good about myself, even at the expense of the other grammy. Was I hoping the child would prefer me to her? After all, she was also the grammy who snuck gum and candy to the little girl despite daddy’s rules. But aren’t grandparents usually the ones who spoil the child? My son’s beloved Grandma Doris certainly spoiled him every chance she got. Maybe the other grandma had it more right than I did, and I was just trying to excuse being lazy in the grandparenting department.
As I drove north early Saturday morning leaving the other grammy there for two more days, I started to rethink my reaction to all things not me or my way. Oh, what if one grandmother doesn’t have to be better than the other? What if I don’t need to feel right and could accept everyone’s style as representative of what they do because, well just because? And what if I really could avoid judging or comparing my way to other ways. Suppose I did not choose sides, either for my way or against it. What if I could just experience things as they are and not have to grasp after my own way of doing things to prove I am superior, or even okay. What if I really began once and for all to accept that there will always be “This And This.” What if. Two new words to consider.