Thursday, April 9, 2009
Finding Meaning in Mortality (thank you Daddy)
There is something about being with my Dad and thinking about geological time that has made my mortality real to me. I suppose this is not very profound, nor unusual. My Dad will be 75 in May. He visited for my daughter's tenth birthday. I am having a hysterectomy in the end of this month and have a not insignificant chance of endometrial cancer. Attempts to biopsy my uterus non surgically were unsuccessful, so a diagnosis will be made intraoperatively. Somehow, all these circumstances have given me an out-of-mind experience.
OK, I can not really have an out-of-mind experience, rather I am thinking from the third person, observing my life from as much of a distance that is possible from inside my own head.
My Dad travels the world, and frequently goes to China for his Medicine In Public Health Initiative. I have always admired my father, and been afraid of him; afraid to stand up to him. Now, for the most part I can defend my ideas and viewpoint matter of factly when it differs from his. In the last few years I have grown to like him from up close; instead of just admiring him from afar. All of the admiration, though has not stopped me from seeing the less functional parts of my personality reflected back at me from him.
It recently seems as though I am walking around acutely aware of what I do not find healthy in my relationships. I have worked very hard to trace the lineage of my specific behavior patterns. I hope I am truly working even harder to change them. This hyper-awareness and classification does not tend to foster good relationships. It is an odd irony that dissecting my dysfunction and naming it gives a strange objective awareness of interactions even as they happen. I considered it some kind of victory to actually HEAR what I sound like. Oh. THAT bad thing is just what Mommy does! Oh, I sound just like Daddy! For some reason, not everyone else is just as interested to hear me name the negative behavior I have just understood, even as I take my part in it. This is especially true for my parents. I do not per se BLAME them for my behavior, I just see where some of it comes from. Now that I am a parent, this has been af high importance to me.
I can be a really negative critic. I have not only traced this behavior, tones and gesticulations included, but also have seen it played word for word, nuance by nuance by my daughter. Now that I have diagnosed it, it is time for the treatment. Like most medications, there can be a bad aftertaste. I know I will not live forever, but tasting my mortality, seeing it and accepting it, has made my behavioral redo much more of a priority. Now the difficult task has become to stop those words, change that tone and control myself BEFORE the words come out of my mouth, before my eyes roll heavenward, before that sigh escapes my lips.
I stand with one foot in Benevolent, Understanding, Unconditional Motherland, and the other in Mother You Know What Land. In a raft rushing down the B*%$ River I try to desperately steer my way to the Loving shore. I am so close. I am sure that this struggle will continue for the rest of my life, however long that is.
Which brings me to the point of the discussion. I have already lived over half my life . At fifty-one the probability of living fifty-one more years is infinitesimal. Even if I do live over ninety like both my grandmothers, it is only forty-some years more. Looking and listening to my Dad, I am suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude. Imperfect as he is, inherited outlook and all, I love him dearly. I love the parts of me that came from him, observed as well as unknown. I can see all of this unfolding before my eyes in my daughter. As I turn from his puns, to the quick older-then-ten understanding in my daughter, I can share in their laughter. The kind of jokes, the same ironic sense of humor, and lightening quick cognition is in all three of us, is in our giggles. I have been concentrating on righting my wrongs so much that I have stopped appreciating the already-good. I have learned something, and I have passed my Daddy's best to my daughter.
I have been thinking and examining my rationale for my life, what the God of my understanding expects me to do with it. I am trying to understand how He or She wants me to invest this precious capital minute by minute. Faced with death, confronted with this mortality, I am still expected to keep on going day by sweet day. The immortality, then of my family must be just this. The way my Dad turns and glances to see if we have caught that last funny remark, caught that sly astute observation, and breaks into a huge grin despite himself, lives on, reflected back at him in my daughter's twinkling eyes. I was listening to their detailed imaginary world game, and suddenly I felt an extreme deja-vu descending. I had a whole world of people we gossiped about when I was her age. The world that our imaginary friends inhabited was quite detailed. Forty years later, it sounds just as entertaining. I see myself relaxing and letting go.
Whatever it is: fifteen hours or fifteen years, my job is to love and enjoy. My catalogue of the unacceptable was long and detailed. It is time to reward all the good I have received with the highest compliment; emulation. I will strive to accept everyone around me as they are right now. I will thank both my parents by being the best they gave me to work with. I will temper the negative to the best of my ability, and strive to stop this endless rehashing of my bad behaviors. I will enjoy all these moments of clarity, and I will try to put them to good use. I will behave as the best I can expect to receive in this world. I will always endeavor to treat all those I come in contact with, ESPECIALLY my family, with all the love I can muster. At the end of the day I will look back, not to punish myself, but merely to learn for tomorrow, and then let it go. I will try to be the best of my relatives, TO my relatives, every day. I will honor my Dad, and show my appreciation of him by being the best HE showed ME. I only have this life, as far as I know for sure, right now. I can pray and meditate and reach the God of my understanding only now;not yesterday,and not in tomorrow. So, I will try to stay in now and live in now, and love in now. Thank you Daddy!