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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Key


                The most difficult thing to witness is the unconscious way friends and relatives walk through life, suffering in small, and sometimes large, ways on a daily basis. On occasion, I still find myself suffering over something trivial, but I hold the key that unlocks the door to peace. Passing this key to others is not an easy task. Some people are just not ready to connect with it yet. When I try to help someone out of their misery it feels as if we are separated by an invisible barrier. A glass wall between us keeps the key in my hand no matter how much I want to hand it over to them. I try to talk them through the process of making their own key but often they do not understand. It is as if my voice is muffled through the glass and they can only hear bits and pieces of the instruction, but never enough to fully see the blueprint as I describe it.

It is a simple process:
1) Notice your thoughts, becoming consciously aware, watching them as they arise;

2) Recognize that you are creating this experience through those painful thoughts, seeing how negative and painful they are, feeling the pain they bring;

3) Choose new thoughts, creating a new experience by accepting what you cannot change and finding the courage to change what you can, practicing this process over and over every time suffering arises within you;

4) Tell others what you now understand, giving them a chance to end their own suffering.

It is simple, yet their ears cannot hear it and their eyes cannot see it. Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to hand this key over to them. I know why it is difficult. Even those of us who have grasped the key lose it for brief periods, from time to time. It is much like carrying a set of lost car keys in your hand while searching for them. You know they are there but don’t realize you are holding them. This wisdom is with each person already. Even people who have not experienced it yet have the wisdom hidden inside of them. It sits there waiting to be found, giving them little whispers.

Look inside. I am here. I am your key.

But their ears are not listening to this still, small voice. Their ears are listening to a loud, obnoxious voice. The voice that wants to control every detail of life and have things exactly it’s own way. This voice has no acceptance, no tolerance for the way things are.
My attempts at passing the key to people often fail, but I remind myself how many times the key was offered to me and I could not grasp it. I remember that having the key offered is just one step in the process, but it is an important step. Each offering of the key is like building a layer of understanding, one tooth at a time across the surface of the key. Each offering adds another tooth, then another, then another until they hold the whole key, slip it into the lock and free themselves. That is how I did it. I gained one bit of knowledge here, then another there, years passed, until one day the lock opened. On the other side of the door was a peace so profound I could hardly believe it. But once I felt it, there was no going back. I was in a new world. I could teeter on the edge of that world and still do, but the peace that is through that doorway is like a magnet pulling me back across the threshold every time I falter. It is such a beautiful place to be that I want to pull everyone in, kicking and screaming with their eyes clenched shut, until they finally calm their mind and open their eyes to witness the brilliance for themselves.
And then I look at my beautiful, helpless son. He truly has no control over his life or his surroundings. Often, his suffering comes from wanting something different than what he is experiencing in that particular moment and not having the slightest ability to make choices. But, he cannot grasp these truths no matter how much effort I put into explaining it to him. So what can I do if I cannot explain this to him and have him understand? It is the one and only thing I can do with everyone after I have failed to pass them the key. I can give them my energy. My son can feel and recognize my energy effortlessly. So, I calm myself in the seat of my spirit. I speak softly to him, relaying to him that I understand he is suffering, even if I don’t know what he wants or what is actually bothering him. I know he loves music, so maybe I play music for him. Maybe all he needs is my soft voice reassuring him that we will find the answer. My calm, compassion, and love envelop him and eventually he settles. He knows he is loved. He knows I want his happiness. He knows I will eventually figure out what the bother is, and since he cannot do it for himself I will give my efforts to help him. This is enough. It has to be.
Friends and family who are in control of their own choices must help themselves through life after being offered the key. I will always offer them the compassionate energy of my spirit as well. I must accept that it has to be enough.
Our lives are an endless process of assembling the key and learning to use it over and over again to free ourselves from misery, to make life changes where necessary, to appreciate the joys of this life, and to hold peace in our hearts. I hope this blog helps you build your key one tooth at a time.

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