I have been on crutches for over two months now from a serious knee injury I have mentioned in previous posts. Ten days ago I was given the green light from my doctor to ditch the crutches and begin weight-bearing around the house. Sadly, after 3 days the pain returned. Instantly I went from hope to a state of despair. How much longer will I have to endure this?
By “chance” I tuned into an episode of the OnBeing podcast called the “Future of Hope” an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, who happens to be one of my heroes. During the interview by Pico Iyer, Gilbert speaks of how she navigated the pandemic and also the death of her life partner, Rayya from cancer. Here are two excerpts from that interview which I needed to hear…
“if there is one thing that I, if I had the chance to do it over again, could’ve done differently, would’ve been to walk into it in a stance of surrender — arms collapsed, no clipboard, no agenda, no cherished outcome — and to have almost gone limp into it, which is not the same thing as hopelessness, but it is a very powerful stance to take in the wake of something that is bigger than you are.”
“And a friend of mine gave me a tip: to lower my standards of gratitude, to lower the bar and to catch the low-hanging fruit so that it’s not — it doesn’t have to be these huge, epic, grandiose gratitudes. The more physical they are, the more I felt it in my body. My gratitude for these slippers that I have that have an insole that you can put in the microwave and you can warm up your feet, that’s on my gratitude list almost every day. And I feel it neurologically. Even when I say it, I remember how comfortable those slippers feel, and remembering that doesn’t necessarily send me into despair over the state of the world, and it starts to kind of rewire my brain.”
Such good advice in tough times be it a pandemic, death of a loved one, or an injured knee.
Hurtling towards the spring equinox I awoke to the sun in my eyes this morning. It’s been months since that’s happened. Yesterday I made an appointment for my second Covid vaccine. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Soon I will be able to resume somewhat of a normal life. Camping and river trips are starting to appear on the calendar.
As with everyone else – it’s been a rough go through this pandemic (and everything else). If I were going to give a speech at the “Covid Survival Awards” at the beginning (while holding my covid 19 virus trophy) I would have to thank my two, now 7-month-old tuxedo kittens, Zoey and Zander, and their baby mama, Zinnia (“Mama Z”) for unwittingly helping time to survive this time. Their endless antics and purrs have helped to keep laughter and smiles in my life. I’m sure many of you out there feel the same…
As of tomorrow, Nov. 17, the state of Oregon, my home will be locking down again, but in a gentler way this time. Covid is on the rise and steps are being taken as are all around the world. (I do find it interesting this surge is occurring just about two weeks after Halloween- hmm). Goodbye swimming pool and library for a bit (sigh).
Nothing much surprises me anymore. Coming from a biology, ecology background I always thought it would be the microbes that would bring the human race down to its knees – but not in my lifetime. Then, never did I think I would witness our democracy chewed up like a dog toy in the mouth of a deranged pit bull- but here we are.
This reminds me of an incident I witnessed as a small child. My father was patching a hole in a wall of our house. It was a substantial hole, at least 6 inches wide. Now how that hole came to be will always be a mystery to me. Was it from a fist? Unlikely. It was probably an electrical fix that needed access through the wall.
Whatever the cause, it left a profound effect on my young mind. Until that time I believed my home to be an invincible fortress, impenetrable through any crisis. Then instantly I realized that it was merely a shell surrounding our family subject to damage beyond our control. Oh, how that fact played out in the future.
I have found through the years that the only real security we have is in our hearts, minds, creativity, and spiritual life. The rest is subject to holes (and sadly, sometimes even some items in that list). Politics will always be a mess. This Covid thing will pass but then it will be something else. This holiday season will be dampened but there is still room for gratitude and love. Here is my shortlist…
She was the fourth in a line of feral or stray cats that had found their way to our property. First, they find shelter in the barn. Then, over a period of days or weeks, they grow bolder. Eventually, they wind up on the porch staring in the kitchen window, hoping for a meal. They stay for a while, just enough time for me to grow fond of them, and then disappear- their fate not to be known.
Zinnia was different. I could tell she was in the early stages of pregnancy looking for a safe anchor. Poor dear- a teen pregnancy, barely not a kitten herself. She was petite, with a sleek body that sported a shiny black coat. Her topaz eyes that glowed like the high beams on a car, visible from across the yard. This cat could model on a perfume commercial
The start of our winter was mild with temps in the upper 50s and sunny skies. The bulbs were fooled into poking their heads up a month early. I worried about another summer of unseasonably warm temperatures and drought. The snowpack was low. Now our familiar Western Oregon weather has returned. Rain and even a little snow dusts the yard. There was even enough powder snow where friends and I drove up to Mount Hood last week for a day of cross-country skiing. I haven’t been able to do that in years.
I celebrate winter. This is my creative time. It is a time to come inside, literally and figuratively. Nature needs rest and renewal and so do we.
THE RAINS CAME
And the humans complained
But not the Earth who soaked the sky water deep into all its pores
Nor the trees who quenched their thirst in grateful gulps from deep roots
Nor the bulbs gathering strength for their dazzling spring displays
Nor the deer hungry for tender green grass
Nor the salmon longing to swim upstream
Nor the bees dreaming of anthers heavy with gold pollen and pistels leading to chambers of sweet nectar
Nor the seeds shivering with anticipation of their impending emergence
Nor the bears conjuring images of plump berries in their sleep
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday in the U.S. For the most part, it has escaped the commercialization of the other holidays. We gather, share a feast, and give thanks. What’s not to like? It’s been a tenuous year in our country and abroad, but tomorrow, let’s just forget about it and enjoy the day. All the best to you and yours.
Please do not apologize to me for your physical state as you leave this world. Yours is not an enviable path, your body rigid from Parkinson’s, your lungs compromised from the pneumonia that finally will be the demise of your 91 year life.
Yes, I am bearing witness to your diminished body, reliant on the hands of others. But my memories of you will be fonder ones. You were a man of great stature and heart, a man who took the time to read me my favorite Dr. Suess books over and over and over again when I was a little girl. Perhaps that’s where I got my quirky imagination? You were the one who tucked me in, put me on the handle bars of rented bicycles in Yosemite. All those family camping trips? Those led to my love of nature & the outdoors & for that I am so grateful . You helped move me from college and helped me pack for my new life in Alaska. I looked forward to those care packages from you. When I needed comfort in a far off place, yours was the voice I could count on.
Thank you for your generous spirit that manifested itself in many ways . Thank you for not criticising my numerous stupid decisions in life, preferring to be my cheerleader. Thank you for being a good grandpa to my son.
I am grateful that you found your true love, that you lived life large and got to travel to exotic places. You are leaving this life with more friends that I can count. There’s a bright mark you left on the world and we will feel a void when you depart. Leave it to you that in the end you can still crack a good joke.
I am grateful for morphine and hospice care.
It is me that wants to apologize to you. I am sorry that you have to end your long life in such an uncomfotable manner. But lets just skip all those apologies. May you leave this life knowing that you were loved and admired by many, including myself. Congratulations on a life well lived.