Joseph is really into the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He insists someone watch it with him, so  he and I have watched it about half a dozen times in the last few weeks. And I still like it…mostly.

The last time I watched it, I was struck by the relevance of the Mirror of Erised. According to Professor Dumbledore, when you look into this mirror you see the “deepest and most desperate desire of one’s heart.” Thus Harry looks into the mirror and sees his long-dead parents alive and well, smiling and nodding affectionately at him.

As I watched the movie I wondered what I would see if I were to look into this mirror. In a flash I knew the answer: Me having a long, back-and-forth conversation with Joseph about some meaningful topic. Life lessons we’ve learned, observations we’ve made, the condition of the world, the existence of God — any of those will do, as long as we are engaging with each other in a deep, powerful way.

As I continue to look into the Mirror of Erised, I see that this conversation is with a neurotypical Joseph. Not one trace of autism in him.  Joseph is really listening, reflecting deeply, sharing back from his heart.

I want that mental/emotional connection with him so badly. He is snuggly and cuddly, so I get the physical engagement (and am well aware that many autism parents don’t), so I get lonely for mental/emotional. It’s definitely the deepest, and most desperate, desire of my heart.

But I know it won’t work to spend my life staring into the Mirror of Erised. Harry finds this out too, after he spends the better part of two days gazing into the mirror. Then the wise Dumbledore comes and tells Harry that people have gone mad in front of that mirror, not knowing if what they have seen is real, or even possible.

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. Remember that,” he says.

I think that all of us have a deep ache or two, something we’d see healed if we looked into the Mirror of Erised. Perhaps that’s just part of driving around in human bodies on this planet. The human condition, if you will.

I was fortunate to spend this past weekend with my brother, Aaron. We are both hovering around the half-century mark — me just above it, him just below it — and dealing with bodies that are more painful than they used to be. Aaron’s got a great solution: instead of popping more Ibuprofen to block the aches and pains, he’s focusing on increasing his pain threshold.

According to Wikipedia, and I quote: The threshold of pain is the point at which pain begins to be felt. It is an entirely subjective phenomenon.

Entirely subjective. Hmmmmm. I’ve read that there can be two people with the exact same spinal injury (bulging disks, that sort of thing). One of them is in extreme pain and the other doesn’t even feel it.

Sounds like maybe we can change our perception of pain — do ya think? Let’s extrapolate a little further.

If we can change our physical threshold of pain,why not our emotional one? Why not raise our consciousness and be bigger than our emotional aches? I’m not talking about suppressing or denying our emotional sorrows. I’m talking about acknowledging them without identifying with them or giving them too much energy and attention.

If we’re living bravely, after all, we can see that these sorrows are a part of life. They deepen us and open us and stretch us in ways that we wouldn’t previously have thought possible. So we could possibly,  theoretically, welcome them. Embrace them. And still know that, while our sorrows are a part of us, who we are is more than them alone.

Dean Acheson said, “I learned from the example of my father that the manner in which one endures what must be endured is more important than the thing that must be endured.”

I choose not to spend my life looking into a mirror of dreams. I choose to be courageous, to increase my ability to endure what must be endured, and to do so in a manner of trust and openness.

It’s the way of the spiritual warrior, it’s the way to inner peace, and it’s the way I want to live.

It isn’t easy, but the best things rarely are. I won’t be perfect at it, but I’ll continue to practice. One day at a time. Today I am practicing courage. Endurance. Inner strength. Acceptance. Trust.

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. Remember that.

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