Monday, April 30, 2012

What Do We Feed On?

It's taken me a whole week to digest Thanissaro Bhikkhu's talk on the Five Aggregates. Here are my notes:

The monk used feeding as an analogy to describe the aggregates. All activities of the mind can be broken down into 5 categories:
Form - any physical phenomenon, particularly body and breath, or any physical thing we can see or touch from within; this body needs to be fed.
Feeling - of pleasure, pain, or neither; feeling of hunger drives whether we have feeling of pain or pleasure, e.g. feeling good when we have full stomach.
Perception - putting label on things, e.g. 'this is a wall'; recognizing what we can eat or not.
Fabrication - intentional part of the mind, ideas, what we want, don't want; needing to fix our food before we can eat it.
Consciousness - that holds it all together; our awareness of the whole process.
What is the underline activity of the mind? It is that of feeding or clinging to the 5 aggregates. Both feeding in physical and also emotional sense, as in the way a child feeds off his parent emotionally, or as in the case of various addictions, e.g. addiction to substance, status, etc. Not just about what we eat, but also how we eat. We suffer because we cling to the aggregates. Feeding always entail suffering, because there is always something lacking, our satisfaction can never be permanent. Hence having to feed places a huge burden on us.
The Buddha suggests we take on better feeding habits, and satisfy our need to feed on food for the mind instead, following the eightfold path. The insights gained during concentration can carry through in our life outside of concentrated state. As we practice, the following 3 qualities of mindfulness practice:
Ardency - trying to get the mind to settle down, stay with the breath
Alertness - paying attention in the present moment
Mindfulness - keeping our mind on to something
the mind feeds differently:
Form - breath
Feeling - pleasure, rapture from concentrated state
Perception - focusing on the breath
Fabrication - wise commentary
Consciousness - awareness of whole process
We look at the drawback from mind not being in concentrated state, and we compare with the delight from concentration. We feel disenchantment and dispassion, we get sick and tired of feeding on what causes suffering. Eventually, that too, needs to be let go of, so that we can be really free. The mind experiences release, and our happiness is no longer dependent on what happens. 
Indeed, to experience the partial release from displacing one's desire away from the usual objects, onto the more refined offerings of practice . . . This morning, sitting, I went back and forth between the two. Body tired from not enough sleep, feeling unpleasantness, then considering options, feeding body more sleep or persisting with 'this', layered over with mind's chatter 'Maybe I should cut sitting short? What is the point of sitting being so tired? Oh! How good it would feel to just lie down and give in . . .' Of course, I was twisting myself into a bag of knots, and I could feel the added pain, on top of the tiredness. 

Then taking a different stance, that of letting go of the aversion to the tiredness, and the craving for a nap. Instead, going back and being with the body, and the breath, and placing the attention on the breath, not on the 'tired' story. Recognizing the whole process, including wise thoughts supporting this different way of being in each moment. 'No reason to leave my seat. There is never a perfect moment. This one as good as any other one.' Letting go of the addiction to pleasure only . . . 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nothing Worth Getting Excited

Just found in U Tejaniya's blog, this very much worth pondering excerpt from his last book: Welcoming Each moment With Awareness+Wisdom:
Only when the mind does not perceive experiences as pleasing will it understand the Noble Truth of dukkha. As long as the mind perceives experiences as pleasing, then the Noble Truth of dukkha is still far from being understood.
Yes, just like Ajahn Chah's image of the wilted flower. No matter how beautiful, the rose carries within each one of its cells, its inevitable fate. Nothing lasting, nothing worth getting enthralled with. Hence the wisdom of disenchantment, and dispassion. 

This is not about being blase or dismissive of 'happy' moments. Rather it is about finding equanimity, from the stored memory of many many mindful times before, seeing impermanence. I will take equanimity a million times over the seesaw of mindless excitement and aversion. 

Sitting, this morning, there is delight about a world just how 'I' want it, calm and sweet. And the awareness, that too shall pass . . . pain and storms ahead. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Living a Life Without Regrets

Bonnie Ware, a palliative nurse in the UK made the headlines earlier this year with her book, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. I have to thank Was Once, one of my Dharma blogger friends for forwarding me the link to Bonnie's website, and inspiring me to contemplate those 5 top regrets: 

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I went down the list and checked, am I living my life wisely? 

Yes,  I do live a live that is true to myself. This was not always the case. It's took me thirty some years before I even knew what my true self was, and a few more thereafter to live a life in accord with that knowledge.

No, I am not very good when it comes to having balance in my work. I still haven't quite figured out the difference between passion, work, and driven-ness. And I know I would do well to work less, and spend more time to just sit and practice being present.

Feelings used to scare me, but that was a long long time ago. 

I probably could carve out more time for my friends. And at the same time, I am very aware of the preciousness of making time for loved ones. And I try . . . 

Number five is not so clear cut. Letting oneself be happier is not that simple. I have found there is a big difference between intending to be happy, and actually being happy. It is not that easy letting go of the mind habits! With mindfulness practice however, the clinging gets to be lesser and lesser, and fear, and anger are no longer so compelling. I feel so grateful for my practice.

How does your life measure up to Bonnie's list? What do you need to change to make sure you will not end with big regret(s)?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Down On the Sidewalk

I sometimes bring a camera with me during my walks through the city. Practicing seeing without the usual filter of conceptual mind, here is what I found on a sunny morning, down on the sidewalk - all  photos unedited and natural colors:

It was not long before mind took over, laying stories on top of the images. Is this what it feels like when one 'loses his or her mind'? Does the world become scary and full of ghosts? What awaits on the other side? 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Until Only the Mountain Remains

The other part of Gil's talk earlier this week dealt with the other side of clinging. Here are my notes:
If you have to let go, you have already missed the boat . . .  the boat of staying in touch with peace, that is. Hopefully you will come to a place when you don't cling, you don't pick up, you don't react. This can happen once we have let go deep enough, and we can lean towards that non reactive stance. The more we get to know it, we can call upon our visceral memory of that experience. We recognize, there is stillness there, right in the middle of the day. And when something occurs, we don't let it ruffle us. The mind is so open, that it does not move. If you have let go, and have experienced some degree of peace, notice what you are willing to give it up for, e.g. letting go of peace for a red light, or for the sake of righteous clinging to a noble cause. 
What are you willing to give up peace for? What do you sacrifice it for? Is it worth it?
The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, 
until only the mountain remains.
~ Li Po (8th century Chinese poet) ~

Many times throughout the day, the possibility of choice arises. This road, or that one. Will I let mind go the lazy way of clinging or aversion? Or is the mind now convinced enough, and willing to let go? Been there, done that. In the end, it is a matter of remembering the suffering involved during times before, the pain from more constriction in the body, and in the mind.  It is also about having the presence of mind to notice what is really happening. 

Back to Gil's questions,  sitting this morning and dwelling amidst the peace of breath coming and going softly, and birds happily tweeting, it was clear where the risk lied. Thoughts about 'I' kept interrupting, 'I' in various situations, mostly in the future, and I could notice the beginning of trouble. Back to the breath, back to hearing sounds, and peace could become a possibility again. Still, I wondered, why this need of the mind to create such stories about 'me'? 

Until only the mountain remains, many more moments of sitting, with myself . . . 

What is your answer to those questions?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Google Plus Wow Factor

I marvel at Google. I just do. Here's why.

Sitting, an insight arises as it did a few days ago. And right there, in the mind, vague remembrance of fragments of a sutta read long ago. Ancient wisdom with the power to stretch what I just felt and began to understand. 

Before Google, to retrieve the whole teaching, I would have had to go through indexes, tables of content, a whole book of discourses even, or I would have had to ask my teacher. 

Now, I find the sutta I am looking for, in just a few seconds. It goes like this. Simply go to Access to Insight, type enough keywords, click on 'Suttas only', and voila! One or several possibilities come up, and it does not take long before the familiar words surface within their original context. I usually copy the most relevant excerpt, and paste it into Blogger post editor. Blogging then becomes an extension of my meditation, a way of remembering the whole process of sitting, experiencing, and further reflecting based on relevant teachings. 


How else have you find technology helpful for your practice? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What Am I Clinging To?

Gil's talk last night was in large part devoted to the topic of 'turning towards clinging'. Listening to him reminding me of the importance of asking oneself the question: 'What am I a clinging to?' over and over again. Getting in touch with the second noble truth, as I did yesterday.

Sitting in my office, all to the joy of working, I got interrupted by rant from loved one about some stupid (to me at least) little thing. I knew better than to react back. I did all the right things. Took a breath, briefly surveyed mind, and said no to unskillful thoughts. I voiced what seemed like a reasonable response, and shared my honest feelings. After a while, loved one came to his senses and moved on. I didn't, and felt increasingly bothered as the day progressed. By evening, sitting at IMC with the rest of the sangha, I had turned into a hot coal, smoldering with anger. There was nothing to do, but sit patiently, being with heat rising all the way up to the top of my head, and the tightness from aversion to this unwished for reaction. 

Then, Gil spoke:
We need to eventually release whatever we are holding on to. As mindfulness matures, we become more and more inclined to take responsibility for our clinginess, e.g. what holding on to anger or resentment does inside of us in reaction to what other person has done. We don't turn away from the clinging but we turn into it. We need to understand our problem by bringing our attention to it and feeling it fully. It is not so much about thinking about as feeling our experience. We feel the unpleasantness, and our dislike of it. We get close and intimate with our bad feelings. Eventually our dislike and resistance to it fall away. Same thing with liking. Turning toward, sitting still, we feel what we are feeling, e.g. if feeling lousy, just feel lousy, instead of feeling lousy and hating it. This may take some time, as we let ourselves feel the clinging. We need to be patient, allowing whatever needs to unfold. There is an art in holding 'it' and letting the reaction fall away. Then we get a chance to see what we are holding to, e.g. beliefs, etc.
Break open a cherry tree,
and there are no flowers.
But the spring breeze 
brings forth myriad blossoms.
~ Ikkyu Sojun ~

Sitting, listening to Gil's recitation of the poem, meanwhile holding the unpleasantness, all of a sudden, a flash of insight, 'I am clinging to peace.' Loved one had interrupted my much cherished peace, and I had been resentful ever since the interruption. Why such an attachment to peace, and aversion to its enemy, conflict? I've got reasons, having been raised in a conflict-ridden home, with an angry father, always ready to erupt at the slightest (perceived) provocation. 

Sitting, I experienced the liberation from having understood the source of the clinging. I had been caught, only I did not know to what. 

A good reminder for next time unease arises . . . 

What are you clinging to?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Two Darts, Or Just One?

On a long walk by myself yesterday, there were plenty of pleasures to be had. Temperature just right, enough sun to brighten the moment, flowers going nuts with colors, birds singing what sounded like happy notes . . . it would have been a perfect experience, except for the pain in my right shoulder.  I noticed the mind's habits with such unpleasantness. First tightening, and rebelling against such a spoiler, soon turning into full blown unpleasantness and hatred of the moment. Then, searching for a way out, hoping for pleasure to be found again, quick. From there, escaping into the world of thoughts, thinking about the future, work to be done, the pleasure of food awaiting at home . . . Anything but being in this moment. It worked. There was no more pain, only a vague dullness and the quasi-satisfaction of imagined pleasures. Nothing wrong with that, except for the subtle sadness of knowing that this was one more moment not fully lived, a delaying of the cultivation of real happiness. The hour turned into a reflection on The Dart sutta:
"When an untaught worldling is touched by a painful (bodily) feeling, he worries and grieves, he laments, beats his breast, weeps and is distraught. He thus experiences two kinds of feelings, a bodily and a mental feeling. It is as if a man were pierced by a dart and, following the first piercing, he is hit by a second dart [...]
"Having been touched by that painful feeling, he resists (and resents) it. Then in him who so resists (and resents) that painful feeling, an underlying tendency of resistance against that painful feeling comes to underlie (his mind). Under the impact of that painful feeling he then proceeds to enjoy sensual happiness. And why does he do so? An untaught worldling, O monks, does not know of any other escape from painful feelings except the enjoyment of sensual happiness. Then in him who enjoys sensual happiness, an underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feelings comes to underlie (his mind). He does not know, according to facts, the arising and ending of these feelings, nor the gratification, the danger and the escape, connected with these feelings. In him who lacks that knowledge, an underlying tendency to ignorance as to neutral feelings comes to underlie (his mind). When he experiences a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling or a neutral feeling, he feels it as one fettered by it. Such a one, O monks, is called an untaught worldling who is fettered by birth, by old age, by death, by sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. He is fettered by suffering, this I declare.
"But in the case of a well-taught noble disciple, O monks, when he is touched by a painful feeling, he will not worry nor grieve and lament, he will not beat his breast and weep, nor will he be distraught. It is one kind of feeling he experiences, a bodily one, but not a mental feeling. It is as if a man were pierced by a dart, but was not hit by a second dart following the first one [...]
"Having been touched by that painful feeling, he does not resist (and resent) it. Hence, in him no underlying tendency of resistance against that painful feeling comes to underlie (his mind). Under the impact of that painful feeling he does not proceed to enjoy sensual happiness. And why not? As a well-taught noble disciple he knows of an escape from painful feelings other than by enjoying sensual happiness. Then in him who does not proceed to enjoy sensual happiness, no underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feelings comes to underlie (his mind). He knows, according to facts, the arising and ending of those feelings, and the gratification, the danger and the escape connected with these feelings. In him who knows thus, no underlying tendency to ignorance as to neutral feelings comes to underlie (his mind). When he experiences a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling or a neutral feeling, he feels it as one who is not fettered by it. Such a one, O monks, is called a well-taught noble disciple who is not fettered by birth, by old age, by death, by sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair. He is not fettered to suffering, this I declare.
Turning towards the pain in the shoulder, watching it dissolve eventually . . . and being replaced by a myriad of sensations as  I walked down Stanford avenue. Some pleasant, some not so pleasant, some without a known quality. Pain eventually moved to the other side. The body's got its own ideas. Nothing to do but watch, and make the best of each moment. I thought of the Buddha's last moments, ridden with physical pain. I need to guard against the confusion in my mind, between pain and unhappiness, and pleasure and happiness. Not worrying about what the next moment may bring in terms of pain, also allows one to relax. 

How do you deal with pain, both physical and emotional pain? 

Friday, April 13, 2012

How Much Meditation?

Ask around how long to sit each day, and you are likely to get many different answers. Some believe, the longer the better. Others like Mingyur Rinpoche, advocate 'short times, many times'. At Zen Hospice, short 5 to 10 minutes mindful checkins before each shift appear to have a significant impact on the well-being of the volunteers and their ability to provide mindful, compassionate care. It certainly did for me. Yet others advocate a middle road. The standard length at IMC is 45 minutes, same as in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training. Ayya Khema recommends a minimum of 30 minutes every day. Intuitively, and also from personal experience, it seems that the mind needs a minimum amount of time in order to settle, and also that the longer, the more settling is to be expected, as in the case during retreats for instance. I make it a point to sit at least 30 minutes every morning. I also do shorter sittings throughout the day, and once in a while, I will do 45 minutes sittings, mostly when I sit with the IMC sangha. 

Turning to neuroscience research, there does not seem to be any conclusive answers, or at least not yet. 

An important question that deserves more investigation, it seems . . . 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Loosening Mind's Bad Habits

Sitting this morning,  I could clearly feel the hold of greedy mind, and I understood it as a lifelong habit to be kindly lived through and attended to, right there. This seeing of greed, and of the other hindrances, as a habit of mind, is a new realization and one that makes the culprit more workable. It helps with knowing it's going to take time to uproot. It helps with knowing that  it is just a habit like any other, a formation of the mind that has dug itself deep into the recesses of the brain. The longer the roots, the more time needed to extract the weed.   

Sitting this morning, there was no underestimating the power of the mind's bad habits, in this case craving. I had to admit my relative powerlessness, meanwhile dipping my awareness into neutral breath, over and over. Each time, greedy mind kept pulling me back into its web. Back and forth, back and forth, it went. And something else also. Bigger than breath, bigger than untamed mind, was the joy of resting in the deeper layers of wise awareness, and patient acceptance of the mind's limitations. Loving myself enough to give the mind time to extricate itself from years of painful contractions and delusion.

Such movements of the mind are so small. This is why it takes no less than complete stillness to notice, and start the loosening process through the power of concentrated attention. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Letting Go, Letting Into

Last night at IMC, Gil gave a very good talk on 'Wise Letting Go'. Here are my notes - you can listen to the whole talk on AudioDharma:

We all need to learn to let go wisely. Letting go is a skill, one that can help us let go in ways that enhance our life and give us joy, as opposed to us getting into more trouble. 

A good place to start is to let go of compulsive thinking, so that our mind can experience some peace. This can be practiced during meditation. We let go of clinging in our mind, and we experience firsthand the resulting lightness. This can then translate into situations outside of meditation. For instance, letting go of limiting ideas around losses from physical limitations associated with old age. "Be someone who becomes old and decrepit happily!", instead of assuming that you are going to be unhappy. Asking oneself, what are deep things I have to let go of?

Another place is letting go of compulsive, self-limiting behaviors. We often confuse pleasure and happiness. Letting go can involve things that limit ourselves such as fear, shyness, etc. For instance, we may let go by practicing mustering the courage to have a difficult but necessary conversation. 

There are two aspects of letting go. Letting go of something, e.g. diving board. And letting into something, e.g. water, in other words what is gained in process. It could be more peace, joy, being in present moment more fully, etc. . . 

Gil ended by asking us to reflect on: 
In which ways can letting go better me? What do I need to let go of? And what does it lead me into?

One big letting go for me has been around fear. It took many moments of sitting still and of realizing the extent of the suffering that comes with worried, anxious states. Eventually, both heart and mind have become convinced of the imperious need to let go of this hard wired habit.  Fear still visits often, but it no longer exerts such a strong pull. Of greater appeal is the possibility of peace that comes when mind lets go and relaxes in the simplicity of the present moment.

How would you answer Gil's questions?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Before and After Meditation

Meditation serves as a workout for the mind, the same way exercise is a workout for the body. Lately, I have been paying attention to the 'warm up' and 'cool down' phases before and after sitting practice. How does one prep up the mind before sitting every morning? How does one ease back into the ordinary world after practice? 

Five things to do at the start of a sitting:

  1. Gratitude
  2. Why am I doing this (what's my motivation?)
  3. Work up some determination
  4. Metta - always for yourself, for others as well if you wish
  5. "Breathing in I calm body and mind, breathing out I smile."

Five things to do at the end of a sitting:

  1. Recapitulation - what did I do and how did I get there
  2. Impermanence - all these high, but mundane, states are now gone
  3. Insights - did I get any; what were they
  4. Dedicate the merit from this sitting for the liberation of all beings
  5. Resolve to be mindful as I get up and go about my activities
To which I would like to add another practice:

Before sitting, I read a few lines from the Suttas, from 'In the Buddha's Words', or online at Access to Insight, or from Leigh Brasington's very good list.

How do you prepare for sitting? Do you? How do you transition back afterwards? Do you?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

In a Cup of Tea

Drinking from cup of tea this morning
I found gratitude welling within.
Words of thanks plentiful
came, just like that.

How lucky to have a home
that's mine.
The old folks at the nursing home
aren't so fortunate.

How wonderful that the body
is feeling pretty good.
No major aches and pains.
the time has not yet come.

How sweet the kindness of Him
who prepared the delicious brew
with a twinge of ginger
for even more delight.

How precious the luxury of time
not to be rushed through
No demands on Sunday morning,
only sitting at the kitchen table.

So much packed in every sip,
that too shall pass
making room for new moments,
who knows?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Muhammad Ali's Latest Life Lesson

The crowd's reaction to this made me very sad:

They missed the whole point of Ali's appearance. They missed the fact that they too one day will be betrayed by their body. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Let Us Sit"

From my training with Zen Hospice Project, I received many many gifts, including this one from Eric Poche, the director of volunteers there:

"Let us sit."

Eric Poche with Zen Hospice resident

Three simple and powerful words, that I have made mine now as I lead others into mindful sittings. Heeding Ajahn Sumedho's plea to keep practice simple

Which other words from teachers have inspired you? Please share.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Only Mother I Have

While back in France last week, visiting my mother in her nursing home, I remembered those words from Ajahn Chah:
Those who look after their parents should have their virtues, too. You have to be patient and tolerant. Don't feel disgust. This is the only time you can really repay your parents. In the beginning you were children, and your parents were adults. It was in dependence on them that you've been able to grow up. The fact that you're all sitting here is because your parents looked after you in every way. You owe them a huge debt of gratitude. So now you should understand that your mother is a child. Before, you were her children, but now she's your child. Why is that? As people get older, they turn into children. They can't remember things; their eyes can't see things; their ears can't hear things; they make mistakes when they speak, just like children. So you should understand and let go. Don't take offense at what the sick person says and does. Let her have her way, in the same way you'd let a child have its way when it won't listen to its parents. Don't make it cry. Don't make it frustrated.
It's the same with your mother. When people are old, their perceptions get all skewed. They want to call one child, but they say another one's name. They ask for a bowl when they want a plate. They ask for a glass when they want something else. This is the normal way things are, so I ask you to contemplate it for yourself. [...] As for those looking after the sick person, have the virtue of not feeling disgust over mucus and saliva, urine and excrement. Try to do the best you can. All of the children should help in looking after her. 
She's now the only mother you have. You've depended on her ever since you were born: to be your teacher, your nurse, your doctor — she was everything for you. This is the benefaction she gave in raising you. She gave you knowledge; she provided for your needs and gave you wealth. Everything you have — the fact that you have children and grandchildren, nice homes, nice occupations, the fact that you can send your children to get an education — the fact that you even have yourself: What does that come from? It comes from the benefaction of your parents who gave you an inheritance so that your family line is the way it is.
The Buddha thus taught benefaction and gratitude. These two qualities complement each other. Benefaction is doing good for others. When we've received that goodness, received that help: Whoever has raised us, whoever has made it possible for us to live, whether it's a man or a woman, a relative or not, that person is our benefactor. Gratitude is our response. When we've received help and support from benefactors, we appreciate that benefaction. That's gratitude. Whatever they need, whatever difficulty they're in, we should be willing to make sacrifices for them, to take on the duty of helping them. This is because benefaction and gratitude are two qualities that undergird the world so that your family doesn't scatter, so that it's at peace, so that it's as solid and stable as it is.
Yes, with only one caveat. My mother may have fallen in same state of dependence as a child, but she is not a child, she is not my child. She is very much a grown woman, only now with a decaying mind, a decaying body. She is my mother still trying to care for me. "You should cover yourself better. You are going to catch a cold . . ."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What I Learned From Social Media Sabbatical

Nothing like going on a social media sabbatical, to put one in touch with the magnitude of one's attachment to the online world. Indeed, I learned much during this past week away with intentionally no ready access to my usual hangout places. 

First, I got to relive what it's like to have long islands of time, unbroken by online chatter, and the peace and greater presence that comes from shedding that extra layer of activity. I found out that I could live very well, better in fact without being 'hyperconnected'. I came back, determined to no longer break up my day with such interruptions. I still want to maintain all my online friendships, only assign them less time and contain them within one, two at the most small windows each day. 

Second, I realized the importance of reflecting on the underline impulse that moves me to be online so much of the time. At the root, lies the hindrance of anxiety. Some folks smoke a cigarette, others drink a glass of wine . . . I relieve my unease with tweets and updates. In the process, the opportunity for mindful exploration gets lost. A better way lies in using the urge to connect as an object of meditation. 

As 'Was Once', one of the readers of this blog commented, "On your death bed, you won't say I wish I had been online more. You will search desperately for those quiet, immensely fulfilling breaks into the nature of being. I loved every minute away from this machine on my ten day, so much so I will go again." 'Was Once' is right. On my death bed, I will also look back and take an inventory of the few loving connections I made in real life. That I know, from having sat at the bedside of the dying, and heard them each time reflect on their missed opportunities to connect with their loved ones, and also the joy from having succeeding at loving at least one person.