You Are Just A Dewdrop
“Judged against eternity, how little of what agitates us makes any difference.” —Alain de Botton
I recently went in to get a mammogram—I’m now of that age— and when I was done they let me know they’d call me within 48 hours if there were any issues. (If all was good, I’d get my results in the mail.) Two days later, I was feeling confident that all was well, and had just stretched out in the sun to work from my deck when the phone rang from an unfamiliar number.
Turns out I had to go back in for more testing as something suspicious was found. As I made a follow-up appointment., I kept trying to breathe out the pit that had formed in my stomach and instead listen to the nurse who said: “Ninety percent of the time, call-backs turn out to be nothing.”
As luck would have it, I was scheduled to attend a weekend workshop with Pema Chödrön at the Omega Institute. If you don’t know, Pema Chödrön, she is an American Buddhist nun and author who has written seminal books, like The Places That Scare You, and When Things Fall Apart. In short, she’s exactly the kind of person you want to be around when the doctor calls you to come back in for more testing.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one going through a bit of turmoil that weekend. As Pema opened up the session for questions, people lined up to seek wisdom from this living guru. Some sought advice on how to deal with depression and self-sabotaging ways; a few asked her to weigh in on whether they should leave faltering marriages, and one poor lady wanted to know how to compassionately deal with family members who were incensing her because they supported Donald Trump!
She answered all their questions thoughtfully with humor and compassion. And then on the last day of the workshop, she told us a story about dewdrops.
Life is like a dewdrop on a blade of grass, she explained: beautiful and fresh, magical but ephemeral. And when the sun comes out, it evaporates the dewdrop, and just like that, it’s gone.
We’re all like the dewdrops on the blade, said Pema, but instead of looking around at the wonder of the world in our very short lives, we choose to look at each other and squabble. “We’re two squabbling dewdrops on a blade of grass, sitting there fighting and bickering, getting all caught up and wanting to be right. And in the background the sun is rising, and our time is about to be up. But we are totally unaware, wasting our precious time.”
It’s true. Politics has got everyone all worked up, thinking “I’m right and you’re wrong!” And people all over the world kill each other because of ego and dogma.
And in my own little life, a friend was recently angry at me because she felt I didn’t have enough time for her—hello, kids! And one my favorite cousins is so mad at me, we haven’t spoken in months.
What the heck are we all fighting for? And more importantly, at the end of our lives, is all that stuff we’re so worked up about even gonna matter?
After the Pema weekend, I decided no. And after the further tests revealed nothing (Phew!) I’m extra motivated to stop wasting time being angry and spend more time looking up from my little blade at this awesome, and all-too-short, life we have.
I encourage y’all do the same today and everyday, my fellow little dewdrops!