A beautiful mango sat on our kitchen counter all week. When the mango moment finally arrived I was excited. Mom doesn’t like them so it is one of those pleasures made all the more special by the fact that I don’t have to share. It felt heavy and promising in my hand, but disrupting that skin with my knife brought a less than enthusiastic response. As I took my first tentative bites into the tough dry fruit I was critical with myself for giving in to desire and the possibility that I had rushed the moment.
I contemplated abandoning the mango until I remembered that Kathy, mom’s fabulous home care attendant was at that very moment washing the kitchen floor. I asked myself if I was hungry enough to eat a somewhat disappointing mango and then immediately found myself laughing at such self importance. The laughter broke through the automatic pilot mentality, filling me with a sense of gratitude and abundance that I did in fact have a mango to eat. Although I learned long ago, that my eating mindfully does nothing to end the suffering of those who are hungry – I did recognize the preciousness of the food I held in my hand.
A slight tingly sensation, that my niece Olivia once so aptly described as a frizzle, ruffled across the skin of my arms. With this spidy-sense activated I sat up straighter and really focused on the next bite. I enjoyed the subtle mango flavor embedded in the slightly grainy texture. As I reached the next layer I was amazed to discover perseverance immediately rewarded with a deeper colored flesh. Savoring every morsel I worked my way closer to the seed, as each bite revealed juicier, richer fruit than the one before. A sense of joy spread along the fibers and connective tissue of every muscle, tendon, and bone in my body. I swear to you, even my organs experienced a deep state of peaceful relaxation.
This mango, made it possible to consider myself, without shame, blame, or judgement. How many times in my life have I kept the sweetest, juiciest, most desirable parts of myself close to the bone? When did I come to view grainy and dry as serving no positive function? Who are the people in my life, who have been willing to dig deeper to find my ripeness? …. and finally and most profoundly of all…. How often do I encounter the tough strands of my mother and stop there, unwilling to continue past the surface?
I stated my intention to reactivate, on a daily basis, my willingness to continue to seek access to the tenderness, and vitality that still manifest in her. I went back to my chores with a renewed sense of purpose.
Later that afternoon my mom was working on her latest puzzle, and as I passed by on my way to the hamper she began, “I can’t see the colors anymore.” I asked if she would like a light to help and she replied that it wouldn’t help because it was her eyes not the light that were a failure. Mango, mango, I repeated to myself and still mostly zen, I silently brought a load of dirty clothes back to the kitchen and put them in the washer. She continued, “This is too hard” Mango, mango. Smiling, I brought folded clothes freshly out of the dryer down the hall and put them on her dresser. I was on the way back to the kitchen when I heard, “I don’t think I can do puzzles anymore.” I thought of hurling the cleaver of a comment that immediately sprang to mind.
Mango? Mango. MANGO! I remembered how earlier in the week I had experienced success over annoyance by focussing on how pretty she looked while she took out her hearing aids at the table in the restaurant I had taken her to for the lunch that she complained through. I sat with her for a moment and offered a few pieces tentatively. “No not that kind of color, this.” A vibrant purple piece tinged with gold caught my eye and I immediately handed it and two more just like it over. That is when the miracle happened. In her childlike happy voice, the one that I treasure most above all, she proclaimed. “I got one. Oh Bethie look, I got one.”
That was a good day, I paid attention and was handsomely rewarded for my efforts.