Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Opening and Closing with Another's Wisdom

One afternoon, just about every week, my Dad comes over to spend a few hours playing cards or games. We have a friendly rivalry that includes a fair amount of trash talk and touch-down jubilation. Last week we were playing a favorite card game where the goal is to get the lowest score possible. At the end of the first game, his score and mine were so tilted in his favor that we might have been playing different games. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I settled in for a second game to try and regain some playing card street cred. He keeps the score and at about the half-way point, I asked him the score. He said, "well, you might suck just a little bit less than the last game." 
I recognized instantly the insightful wisdom of these words and promptly added my own twist. People often interpret my big smile or animated speech to mean that my health has improved. I've never had a good answer, until my Dad gave me the words, "My life sucks a little bit 'more or less' (depending on the reality) than yesterday or last Sunday or since I saw you last." This addresses that with my progressive form of MS with the associated pain and steady losses some aspect of my life always sucks to a lesser or greater degree. So, with these magic words I can finally express and accept a certain starting point that is how I gauge where I am at.
One of the hardest things I am dealing with right now is how emotionally fragile I am. We've had one challenging thing or another going on in our lives since July. My tears or anger or irritability are boiling just below the surface. The littlest thing can tip me into despair or rage. Some of my emotional flatness right now protects me from these emotions.
My brother is a wonderful guy and busy caring for his land, wife, and children. In spite of that he makes a tremendous effort to be present in my life from a few thousand miles away. This morning he shared a poem with me that expresses how I feel better than my own two hands and sluggish brain ever could.


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
    translation by Coleman Barks

1 comment:

Ted J said...

Janine, I loved your insights, both 'the sucks more or less' and the poem which speaks to all of us.

May you day 'suck' a little less.

Blessings, Ted