I’ve been spending a lot of time traveling. Google tells me I went around the earth 1.7 times this past year. That is more accurate than I would have wanted. This last summer, I was in Boston, Maine, LA, Yosemite, LA, home to Israel. Two weeks later, off to Australia. Then my father had a brain bleed, and I flew to LA from Melbourne. And then home a month later. Maybe you can imagine how much I missed my home. I can’t even remember, even though I am in the same position now. I can only feel how much I miss home and all that means now.
I came back to LA in January to see how my father is doing. I think I did a better job being proactive when I was here in the fall. I couldn’t afford to be emotional but only to plan how to set things up for my father when he was released from the hospital. But now, four months into this bleed, we see so much progress and so much pause. We were told that the first six months is our window of opportunity; so how to make the most of the time we have left?
We are pushing all kinds of activities to stimulate his memories; help with his brain. We took him to the Farmers’ Market; I thought he’d enjoy seeing the people and all the goings-on; he just wanted to leave. I thought he’d enjoy the fountain at the Grove Shopping Mall; he just wanted to leave.
He remembers who I am, mostly, except when he thought I was his date for Friday night dinner. That was the dictionary definition of awkward. Even the Urban Dictionary. But he is basically a 94 year old toddler. He is cranky when he’s tired; he has to be watched when he walks because he can trip so easily. He doesn’t know what he wants to eat but he goes searching for food. OK that’s not a toddler so much; that’s an adolescent.
But even staff people at various institutions have asked me if I’m his wife. I know he looks young and I look old, but REALLY?? I told off one woman the other day; I told her never assume any relationship of anyone; just ask what is the relationship. There are at least two problems; one, it could be not true, and two, he could believe you.
OH LA. I’m no trophy anything.
So touching toes is relevant here indeed. Flexibility is the key, as much as my father has none, except for touching the truth. And so comes in the idea of equanimity.
ISHI has been touting the goal of equanimity in meditation. And in Life. And I resisted mightily. I thought it was unrealistic; unfortunate and impossible; inhumane, really. After all, we are emotional beings. We should value our emotional reactions because they show we are alive.
Until I had to deal with my father. The emotions of seeing someone reduced to a toddler are overwhelming. You can’t act effectively when you are overcome with emotions. So. I have found some ability to step back from the emotional reaction and listen. And then act with equanimity, as much as possible.
And if not equanimity, then humor.
Which then I realized is the same thing. Stepping back from the situation and seeing another side. And then you can allow the humor of the situation to settle on you.
The Dalai Lama is supposed to be someone who has maybe a natural sense of equanimity. He is certainly not known for being someone who reacts emotionally. But he is known for his sense of humor. ISHI knows him personally as someone who likes to punch, jovially, of course. Maybe a representation of one hand clapping?
Oh but wait! I haven’t written a thing about poetry here.
I tried to impress upon his community the need to up their game; to get people to come visit him. He did it for them, and now it’s his turn, at the very least. So one person came and brought one other person. And they were visually disappointed that my father wasn’t more interactive with them. I explained that you have to listen to my father as if he were reciting poetry, or singing jazz. It’s the whole thing experience.
I may have said some other things. I don’t remember. This has taken me awhile to work on. I have already left LA and come home, thank God.
But what I was told before I left there was that I should write up something to hand out to visitors about my father’s poetry, so they will understand him.
I decided to step back and wait for the equanimity to settle in.
And then maybe I’ll find the humor.