Sunday, May 29, 2011

Love vs. Compassion... etc. And Rentals


"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. “
~Denis Waitley

This past week I learned that my landlord has reconsidered and is extending the lease on the house I’ve been renting…one more year ~ a reprieve!  I feel happy but I doubt that in the moment that I got the news  I was living life with “love, grace, and gratitude”.   Although, be assured, that I am grateful  that he and his wife have changed their minds.  The pressure to move has been lifted and the need to pack up is gone.  It frees my mind to ponder questions such as:  what exactly is “living every minute with love, grace and gratitude”?    Every minute - is that even possible?  Sounds like a rather  lofty goal - something one would put in a mission statement for a not-for- profit business.
You are also caught with the fact that man is a creature who walks in two worlds and traces upon the wall of his cave the wonders and the nightmare experience of his spiritual pilgrimage
~ Morris West

My blog forms the ‘walls of my cave’.   It allows me a place to post the good, the lovely and thrilling as well as the bad, the ugly, painful and unpleasant that I see when working as a nurse and observe as just another human being on this road called life.  My good hearted landlord would be happy about this Internet device as my having a blog undoubtedly prevents me writing out these stories on the walls of his rental or at least writing on sheets of paper and tacking them to the wall while I pondered what to do with the words. 

Alright then, turning my attention back to that first quote - I am reminded of yet another quote (in fact one that I may have posted here before):

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.   If you want to be happy, practice compassion” 
~ Dalai Lama

I find that practicing compassion can be difficult, sometimes nearly impossible – no, make that sometimes it is impossible to be compassionate all the time, at least for me.  Compassion makes more sense to me than aiming for happiness based on a life lived in “grace, love and gratitude”.  Each is something to strive for but in combination, I wonder that it can be done.   All creatures suffer and suffering for people creates human drama. "Drama" is a buzz word these days.  Not all drama is manipulative.  The old woman losing her cognition and repetitively asking if it is ‘time to eat’ is not trying to “bug” anyone.  She suffering from a disease that is killing her brain and she is suffering a complete loss of the sense of time.  The man down the hall who calls a young nurse a ‘stupid cow’ because he is in intractable pain from his colon cancer is suffering.   So was the new nurse who was trying to help and was insulted.   I wonder what Denis Waitley  meant by “love” “grace” and “gratitude”.  Mr. Waitley is a motivational speaker.   He has motivated me to understand where his prospective is rooted.  I wonder if he is a born-again Christian for instance…words like “grace” are suspect for me.  Does that make me a cynic?  In my opinion, however,  Mr. Waitley did get the bit right about what happiness was not!

"The mind wants to live forever, or to learn a very good reason why not. The mind wants the world to return its love, or its awareness... The mind's sidekick, however, will settle for two eggs over easy. The dear, stupid body is easily satisfied as a spaniel. And, incredibly, the simple spaniel can lure the brawling mind to its dish. It is everlastingly funny that the proud, metaphysically ambitious mind will hush if you give it an egg." 
~Annie Dillard

Okay, I'm done for now, but oh, by the way…I’ll have mine scrambled please!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Springing Forward with the Unwilling

Printable For Rent Sign
Last week she put finger tips to keyboard to write a note to the land lord...had he considered renewing the lease. A week ticked by and finally the response appeared. They have decided to put the house on the market to sell it. Two homes have proved to much to carry right now.

She sat in the living room and stared at the book cases filled with books and wondered how many should be given away with this move: some, none, all? Packing up closets and dishes to difficult to even consider for the time being. For now the answer is not known. There are worse things than packing and unpacking. Even finding a rental that will take two dogs and has a fenced yard, while daunting, is not impossible.

Still, she would rather not move. This space felt like home. She had not even fully unpacked for fear of finally feeling settled and trusting that feeling again. Settled ~ hmmm, when did that last happen. 2001. Exhaling. Note to self: 1) be careful with trust, 2) avoid bookstores.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Measuring Time in Spring

Spring evening -  at 8:30 PM  -  2011

It is light until almost 9 PM.  Before long we will have light until nearly 11 PM.  The sky is light again just before 5 AM.  My favorite time of the year. Makes the winter rain and darkness seem very far away!  :-)  Okay, the rain is still here but not for much longer.  Brilliant flowers are every where and trees are completely leafed...these are the content recipients of the deluge.

"We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies."                       ~Shirley Abbott

So much has been going on that it has been difficult to sort through much less note on a blog.  Violin practice continues a pace but am thinking of changing to the Irish whistle or perhaps the banjo (for all things country).  Arthritis is such a nagging drag ~ my neck complains about leaning to the left (so does my family but that is another story).  However the stiffness keeps my massage therapist gainfully employed.  Speaking of violin I should add here that I began learning this wonderful instrument because I so enjoy Celtic fiddle music.  To make a long story short, I've been on a journey of discovery about my family's genealogy.  It seems I have deep Celtic roots.  Ferguson's from Dundee, Scotland, Gavin's from Ireland and the Reynolds' from St. David, Wales.  Are those the strands of genetic code that whisper a love of the jig and reel?  I found relatives in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts back to the founding of the country...perhaps that is why I felt instantly at home in those places. Found one soul who fought the British  long ago and died doing so.  These generations of cousins were not nobleman but hard working folk who helped build a nation: mainly farmers but also miners, laborers and builders of homes and towns.  I've found myself reading some of their stories from letters and family histories as relatives moved across this nation. I've felt very proud of their courage and strength.   I also found Mormon and Catholic roots and two male cousins many times removed who were polygamists.   A female Scottish cousin married a Mormon minister after she converted in Scotland and followed him to the States.  Her first husband was a sailor who died at sea.  There are two cousins from almost 100 years ago who were nurses and midwives.  One of those brave women served her community in Utah when that state was a territory and her people live in dugouts.  She also cared for some of the Ute tribe and her husband's cattle and farm were never scarred during the war between the Settlers and the Ute...even after her husband died from wounds he received in those battles her home remained intact and cattle left alone.  She like so many women buried most of the children they birthed.  There are long lists of cousins who did not live beyond their first year.  One grandfather remains a mystery.  He was an orphan. He died in a mining accident in Utah.  He was possibly Navajo or Mexican or Portuguese. I know only that his father was from New Mexico.  His mother from Arizona but to date those great grandparents remain nameless.  If my half-brother were to decide to have his DNA tested we might be able to find out which human migration that side of the family is followed - for now that greatgrandparent's story is encased in silence.

The genealogy search was rekindled because I have been traveling back and forth between the Northwest and the Southern Utah desert to check on my aged Mother.  Her energy, memory, and heart are failing her.   Sometimes she can not remember why I've come to see her.  Sometimes she is angry that I'm helping her pay her bills.  Sometimes she is mellow and full of old stories.  She will not leave her home - she is frail but the whole of her being wants to be fiercely independent to her last breath.  Managing fiances and health care from 1000 miles away is daunting.  Have even driven down once.  I have to admit I love to drive and eventually will get back to editing the photos taken on the journey.   So my own mother is failing.  My children are developing their families and careers.  The youngest son completes graduate school in June and the eldest is teaching English as a second language at a university in Texas.  We are  living life as it unfolds.  For now life continues to be relatively calm...not without its sorrows but that is to be expected.  The ebb and flow of each day feels connected and 'normal'.   There is a pleasure in knowing I am moving through my 60s with family secrets unlocked.  I now hold information about my connection to the generations who went before me.  There is a promise in it all.   It all seems appropriate to the season. 

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.  This makes it hard to plan the day."  ~Elwyn Brooks White