Your Existence Is Beautiful
My mother turned 90 recently. She tells me that she does not feel old, until she tries to
get up from her chair. She feels briefly old then, while rocking back and forth to build
momentum. I love her quick mind, her sense of humor, her firm convictions, her sea-deep
compassion. With her thin white hair done up in a perm, she barely tops 60 inches now, but
she rises in my imagination as a woman of great stature.
I recall her nearly blind grandfather at 98. I stood next to him, as he sat in his
wheelchair. Given my height at 12 years old, I know that I must have looked down toward him;
yet I cannot correct the image in my memory. I looked up at him, in awe, as he spoke my name,
remembered much about me, and took my hand in his.
The handshake dates back 25 centuries or more, a gesture of peace, indicating that
neither man carried a weapon: “My hand to you, sir. I do not intend to kill you at the moment.”
What troubled circumstances made that gesture necessary? Fortunately, we attend our typical
meet-and-greets without fear, but we still offer the hand as a sign of amicable civility and
I prefer another gesture, borrowed from another culture, and also with an ancient
history. Apparently the namaste means nothing more nowadays than a handshake for some, a
simple, polite gesture of recognition. The hands pressed palm to palm in front of the chest, the
slight bow, have a lovely ancient meaning, nonetheless. “I bow to the divine in you.”
You are young? Then be beautiful, as you are; be strong, as you are; be young, as you
are. You are old? Then be beautiful, as you are; be strong, as you are; be young at heart, as you
are. Your existence is beautiful.