A Gift For Maria

Like every year, Maria passed her Christmas holidays on the beach in Mexico.  To her and her family, it was a good way to escape the Christmas rat race.  She never understood what people liked so much about Christmas anyway.  How they could agree on spending so much time, energy and money flocking to shopping malls or waiting until the internet would speed up so they could buy their Christmas presents.  Granted, to see the shiny expectations light up in one’s young children’s eyes certainly was a yearly treasured memory.  The four year olds dancing around a tree on the same old tunes dressed up like play dolls was very touching to witness.

Maybe it should be an unspoken rule to keep this game of Christmas going until the youngest sibling reached the mature age of let’s say twelve years. After that it becomes too obvious that the December event is kept alive not only for religious reasons but for economic ones.  Objecting to acknowledge Christmas with its stress shopping habits had always made Maria feel insecure, even guilty. But why?

Her mother had died two and a half years ago, yet Maria had still been working so hard to become the daughter she perceived she had to be in order to be loved.  In all of her forty years, she never felt she had succeeded in this task.  As she shook her short red hair, a few grains of sand landed in her eyes, and a tear appeared.  Somehow, her eyes knew just what to do to wash away the intrusive object.

Maria stood up from the lounge chair. It wasn’t a good day for tanning today.  A thin layer of fluffy clouds covered the depth of the eternal deep blue of the Mexican sky. If only she had a nice tan by the time she got back on the set in New York.  It would give her that extra boost of self-confidence knowing that the bronze would show off her divine olive-tone skin.  She wasn’t a natural redhead, but for the character she played in the movie, ‘Virginia, Back to Her Roots’, she was of Scottish decent.  As for her dark eyes, the green and brown seemed to be continuously sparring for priority and presence.  She looked Scottish alright.

As she set out to take a walk along the shoreline, Maria was suddenly approached by an elderly lady.  ‘Do you mind if I keep you company for a while?”, the lady asked.  She vaguely reminded Maria of someone.  Some very familiar traits were present in that wrinkled face that was smiling at her, as if encouraging her to say, “Yes.” The woman carried around her a bright, shiny energy that was soothing to Maria’s feeling of loneliness. “Sure,” Maria replied with openness, and before she knew it they were engaged in an intimate conversation.

“You know,” Maria said to the woman, “I think I have to change all the values in my life.  It is weird, but I was so convinced about what I stood for.  So far, it has been my goal in life to live up to my values to the point of being addicted to the process itself most of all.”

The woman nodded, “Like what?  Can you give an example?”

“Well,” Maria answered, “first of all, it used to be majorly important to me that I would be great and famous.  It was inconceivable to me, that I, like so many other people, would take life at face value, live it and- done or not with my Holy quest- would then disappear from the stage of this world, die, without even a scream,  unconditionally yielding to the Laws of the Universe.  Now I feel such a desire to not over reach anymore, just live up to my potential, and if that means living a relatively unimportant life, without great contributions to the world, I’m okay with it.  I actually wish I would wish that with my whole heart.”

“So what is in your way of replacing your one wish for another, a more up-to-date wish?”

“Well, it feels like I am being untrue to myself,” replied Maria with hesitation as she directed their steps closer to the waterline.  She needed all her attention for her thoughts and the wet sand was much easier to walk on.  The old woman followed her closely, although she didn’t seem to have any difficulty treading through the soft dry sand; she almost seemed weightless.

“You know I have had a lot of insomnia in my life,” Maria continued. “But yesterday I came to sort of a clear insight.  You must know, my mother died two and a half years ago. I noticed that, although I have been very much aware of the fact that she isn’t physically here anymore, not much has changed for me.  It still has been the purpose of my life to live up to the conditions that I perceived she expected of me in order to feel accepted, or no, rather to feel acknowledged and seen by her as a valuable human being.”

“I hear you,” the old woman replied.  A soft breeze had come up and played through her soft short white hair.  Maria felt the urge to sit down with the lady and brush this silky hair gently.  They did sit down and watched how the waves rolled in, break, and how immediately their volume dissipated into annihilation.  “Go on,” the lady said. “What more would you want to change?”

Maria thought for a short while and then continued, “Thank you for listening.  It really helps to clarify my thoughts.  I have always had a sense that I had to be everywhere and do everything for fear of missing out on life. First of all, I’m getting exhausted from never being able to make a total commitment, always having to be doing the thing I didn’t choose, always having to be in  the spot I’m not.  I have the strong suspicion that I didn’t want to miss out, not so much on the experience but on the potential outcome of the experience.  Not to miss out on the potential vehicle to some sort of an unknown reward.  A reward that I can’t even describe seems to be what has motivated me throughout my life but that for some reason doesn’t seem to matter anymore.  Do you think it have anything to do with my mother passing, and her influence on me waning gradually?”

The old woman lifted her head and started slowly to stand up. In the same flowing moment, she straightened her back . For a moment Maria thought she looked so much taller, almost twice herself.  She reminded her of a rooster about to crow.  Then the dark blue of her now piercing eyes gazed  into Marias as she said, “My dear daughter, I have come back to you only for this moment to help and support you and setting you finally free!  You have fulfilled your karma.  From now on you will live following your own criteria, living up to your own values that become clearer to you each day.  You will be successful in conveying your message to the world while being available as a mother, grandmother, and friend.  People will seek you and you will have many friends.  And remember this…I love you.  I have always loved you and always will.  Forgive me for having been subject to the human condition of being a mother, as a grandmother, as a friend.”

While the lady was expressing these last words, Maria saw the look in her eyes change to a watery blue as the connection between the two of them dissolved.  She turned her eyes to the ocean where she witnessed the woman in white gradually disappear towards the endless horizon.  As a last reminder, there was a moment in which there was a hovering above the waters of a tiny framed portrait of the person that had kept her company a minute – until even that had totally vanished.  Maria sat there still for a little longer. Then she walked back to the beach chair. She felt lighter, more motivated to do what was right.  She looked forward to developing and cultivating her own values.



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