15 April, 2015
Discovering Wisdom in Each Moment
This piece is about a person I hold dear and something he did that it took me 25 years to understand in a new way.
My grandfather, Abe Spitzer, was my favorite relative growing up. I loved and adored my Poppy. He was always happy to see me and made my childhood glow. He taught me how to jump into the deep end of the pool and how to laugh big. He was killed by a drunk driver when I was eight and started visiting me in spirit the following day. He is with me always as a guardian and a guide.
My Poppy also holds a unique place in history. He was the radio operator on the planes that dropped the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He kept a diary throughout his service that was published in a book called We Dropped the A-Bomb. (Though print copies are now rare, you can find the book on Amazon Kindle). My parents recently donated his diary to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio so it can be displayed along with his plane, which has been there since 1961.
I didn't know about my Poppy's role in the war until I was in my teens. At first I was confused about what to think and how to feel about my Poppy based on the information. Was I supposed to love this person and dislike his actions? Defend his actions? Ignore his actions? Redeem his actions? Those questions, and more, lasted a long time and didn't have answers.
Remove the context (war) and the person (my Poppy) and you may find the same questions you have asked yourself and applied to others. Usually on occasions with far less impact than a bomb.Sometimes on occasions with more. No matter the topic, these questions are a mind game we play about a lot of people and a lot of actions. As much as we think these questions will help, and as much as we convince ourselves they need to be asked, they become a rabbit hole into separation and pain.
In my experience with my Poppy, I came to realize that the questions in my mind about what to think and how to feel and how to love did not bring clarity. Something else would bring clarity. Something simpler, quieter, and kinder.
A few years ago, I found myself willing to sit and be with my Poppy, without questions. I sat quietly. I sat still and I sat open. I sat in compassion. My Poppy did appear to sit with me. He seemed relieved to be welcome without all the questions. I sensed that, for a long time, my Poppy had been waiting for somebody to hold him in freedom from his past. To love him as he appeared in the moment.To liberate him from his painful memories. He shared wisdom that brought me to tears. Wisdom about using pain as a catalyst for kindness to others. Wisdom about not holding on to what others have done. Wisdom about love.
It was that interaction that taught me the importance of meeting people in the moment, in liberation from their past. There is wisdom and understanding in the moment.
We have all done things. We all have history. And we have a way of holding others hostage, prisoners to things they can never take back, etched in stone no matter how much they have changed. We do the same thing within ourselves. Drop the questions about the past. Liberate yourself and others from what has been done. Be with yourself and others free of history. This is not easy and is sometimes against everything the mind wants to do. Try anyway. It does bring ease. It does bring closure. It does bring healing.
Sit free of your history and see what you come to understand. And then sit with others.
My Poppy runs through me. I can sense him smiling that his voice has been heard. I can tell he has more he would like to share. I invite him to sit with me anytime.
Fun fact: My Poppy was stationed at Roswell during the UFO incident. He was a part of the, well, whatever was going on there!
Below is my favorite picture of my Poppy. We don't know where or when it was taken. I like to imagine he was carrying magazines and fruit for his journey home.