I mean, really. (I can hear my Mother’s voice right now. She had this way of saying “Oh reeeeaaally” and rolling her eyes when I would make some statement obviously designed to provoke. I do that myself now. It’s really irritating. Anyway…)
My mother was in the hospital the last few days. She’s in advanced stages of dementia and blanked out more severely and for a longer time than usual so the family thought she had had a stroke. After all the tests, it’s impossible to tell exactly what happened because her mind is so far gone but it wasn’t a stroke. She’s back home now.
This latest episode has brought up all sorts of questions. How do I want to die? When is it preferable to die? Why is her body so healthy when her brain isn’t? What kind of ‘quality of life’ does she / can she possibly have?
After a lot of tough pondering, I’m mostly on the ‘quality of life’ question. What does it mean? Being honest with myself, I don’t like the answer. Because I have to be honest with myself, I have to tell you. In my heart of hearts, I Desire, with a capital D, the American puritan work ethic of grueling labor with no rest. Extreme self sacrifice. Hyper responsibility and drive. One-ups-manship about how much more insomniac I am than you. All that stuff. That’s really who I am. None of those efforts happen here and now. They are all fear-based efforts to try to control the future. They are also great at numbing myself right now. Bonus.
I would love it if I never had to meditate, exercise or delegate again. I meditated every day for a whole week and I hated it. It was hard. I preferred wallowing in chaos to suffering that kind of discomfort every morning regardless of the benefits.
I trained 6 months each for 2 marathons. I should never have to exercise again my whole life. I’ve done my time.
Okay, we’re approaching full circle so bear with me. If I truly believe that living in the moment, that the path is the journey, that connection with something greater than myself is real, then my Mother may actually still have some quality to her life. If I don’t, then I must believe that she is better off dead.
Go ahead and hate me for a moment.
There’s a prickly feeling in my reptilian brain that rejects all of this as wrong. It’s not just wrong that we shouldn’t ever wish someone were truly dead. Oddly, that’s less of a consideration here. I’m saying that my intuition is telling me that that is incorrect. That it’s warped.
My intuition being prickled like this is a call to action for me. In a weird way, that feeling kicks in my desire to work hard at fixing something. Perhaps – no commitments here – a recognition that it’s time to evolve.
Much of my life has been lived in pursuit. Safety. Hope. Boundaries. Esteem of self. Esteem of others. Esteem of life. My place in and a part of the universe. In this pursuit, I’ve gravitated to concepts that struck me as true. Taoist concepts that I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with.
I’d like to release the hate part. Of course, my instinct is to do that by fighting and striving (read: American puritan work ethic above). Yeah, yeah. I know.
Am I ready? I don’t know. I do know that I’m readier. I also know that I’m tenacious – in all ways. I will hang onto the self-destruction and strive for peace in the same breath. Phoo.
I know that there isn’t some threshold to cross into living a gleefully blissful existence. I do know that every day is an opportunity and a choice. Quite often, I choose poorly. Sometimes, I choose well. Some days, I choose well more often. I guess that’s that evolution I was writing about.
Just like Mom did.
More accidental lessons my Mother taught me. Damn her to hell.
Except, you know, not really.