Posts Tagged ‘making friends with reality’

I held her hand like we did when she was little, me driving the car, her riding along beside me, close  — my oldest daughter and I — moving down Freeway 5 South from L A to San Diego, clomping through the carpool lane, flying though concrete corridors in the night, going home together.

Earlier in the day, we both held my mom’s hand in the skilled nursing center, perhaps and quite probably for the last time, the ultimate bonne bouche — her hand white, veined, shriveled; our hands pink, smooth and thick around hers —  and we both kissed her on the forehead and said, “I love you mom,” and she said, “I love you.” My mom is 90 and she is dying.

Today, New Years Day, 2018, my wife and I finished up the remodeling of our guest bedroom. We  moved stuff out of the room to simplify it, fixing one last damaged spot by spraying texture on it and painting it. We hung pictures, arranged furniture  — beautiful, clean, restored.

After working together, my wife Linda and I sat downstairs over coffees and reflected on the week. We hosted my brother and his wife as guests in our home, took them to the zoo, ate good food together and talked, talked, talked.  We celebrated my youngest daughters engagement by hosting her finance on Christmas Day with with good food and good talk and by sitting close. We also finished the bedroom remodel, and we made that trip to L A to see my mom and dad.

In his book The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee writes, Great Science emerges out of great contradiction.” So does all great living. Our family, full of contrasts, contradictions, differing directions, in morte and de novo.

One moves toward death, one begins a new phase of life. Some things old we fix, others we let go — with some tears involved. We move forward, we move back and we shuffle in place too.

As my wife and I sat at the kitchen table this morning, we discussed our family values, our competing, sometimes contradictory familial values. We talk, that’s one value, and then talk some more. We value simplicity, but we also value quality. We value connection; we also give space for independence. We value adventure; we also nurture stability.

Equipoised, fractal, hopeful — we think ahead; we make plans, we make friends with realities. My mom will die this year, one daughter will marry, we will all move toward increasing independence. We will try to stay close, but we will also try to be gentle with movement.

And we will keep holding hands and talking as we adventure out and as we keep holding hands and as we keep letting go and as we keep taking up hands again.

“I severed its head off! Dead as a door nail,” she texted me.

I wasn’t surprised. It goes like that.

I’m a perfectionist, but I keep being faced with the fact that reality is never perfect.  My gardener friend was letting me know that she had cut the electrical cord with the electric lawn mower. That’s one disadvantage of electric lawn mowers; they tend to cut off their own umbilical cords. I know; I too have used an electric lawn mower to chop up several cords. On the other hand, the electric’s don’t belch nasty gas and oil.

Noting is perfect. I’ve been noticing lately that life isn’t perfect — cinemuck.

Last night at home my family got into a nice row over the accommodations for an upcoming family vacation. Wonderful! What is supposed to be fun suddenly wasn’t fun. And yet, no big deal. I believe that it will turn out to be a wonderful time together — with perhaps one day of it not. That’s how family vacations go. You always have one day that you just have to write off. The Greek’s might have had a penchant for aponia, much like our pharmaceutical companies and the general public, but I’m learning to be good with a bit of pain now and again. It’s normal.

This week I screwed some freshly painted master bathroom cabinet doors back on, one step in a beautiful bathroom remodel at home. But in doing so, I chipped the edge of one of the doors with the tip of my elctric drill.

There it is again — the flaw, the chip, the ding, the family spat, the cut cord. But here is the deal: I’m good with it. I’m good with not perfect. I even like it. It is equiprobable that things will go well or not. I’m not perfect, my work isn’t perfect, my family isn’t perfect and that’s okay with me.

I am finding that accepting mistakes, expecting flaws, embracing conflict, being good with not perfect — this actually makes life so much easier, and it sets me free to enjoy my imperfect self, enjoy my flawed relationships and to enjoy my sometimes sketchy efforts to make the world better.

It comes to this: Don’t look down at the floor when you are at the cinema; enjoy the movie.