Posts Tagged ‘elderly parents’

8 Mundane Concerns

As usual, when in flummox, reading the Dalai Lama helps.  I opened my little book to the page that discusses what the Tibetans refer to as the eight mundane concerns.  I was deeply in the grip of almost all of them: Elation at praise, depression at belittlement, happy at success, depression at the experience of failure, joyful when you get wealth, being dispirited when you are poor, pleased at fame, depressed at obscurity.  So, there I was, me and the Mundane Concerns, nose to nose.

Then as I was floundering around in the Eights and working on getting perspective, the kybosh arrived in the form of phone calls.  From my elderly mother who is struggling with memory loss and accompanying anxieties.  She’s never really listened to me and now was no exception, and I observed as my heart kind of squeezed with love and flattened with powerlessness.  There’s also the part where, since we all have our own perceptions of reality (” “), how that plays out between parents and children can be tricky.  I’m not sure that is something that anyone gets to avoid, actually.  It made me think about the fair we did at Christmas, and how before the opening one morning, all the vendors in our upstairs area were comparing notes on  coping with their aging parents.   One African woman’s mother is being tormented in the family compound by her older brother who is eternally convinced he is starving and never lets her rest.  Another man stopped calling his mother to tell her when he was visiting- he just shows up, and doesn’t say he’s going when he leaves- she doesn’t remember and it keeps her from getting upset.   There were the stories about the intransigence, the combativeness, and the strangeness of, say, going to Europe to visit your parents as one friend did, and spending the entire several day visit with no sign of recognition from the mother and at one point an active query as to identity.

Like everything else in life, it is one thing to read about this stuff and quite another to experience it.  On some level there is simply nothing to be done.  On another, of course there is huge, if implied, responsibility.  So as I’m pondering just how I’m going to get my endeavors aloft after getting my attention out of the eight mundanes, there is also the information supplied that, since I happened not to have had children in the course of my path through life, I essentially  truly have nothing else important to do but attend to familial responsibilities- in essence my endeavors are of very small importance.  One’s own survival can wait, apparently.  Having watched other friends struggle with this situation and try to balance what they must do with what their parents want them to do, not to mention what needs to be done in the world,  it’s clear there aren’t ready Answers.   Even in societies, unlike our own, where family bonds are paramount and extensive, people still wrestle with these difficulties, albeit in different contexts.  It’s just another one of those things you don’t get told about growing up, and it is quite the crash course when the time comes.

Which is why it really was helpful to find the readings on the mundane concerns.  Because, really.  I was elated at certain positive comments and developments recently, crushed at misunderstanding, happy at  sales, depressed at the following quiet, happy when money came in, worried when it hasn’t, and still periodically in the abyss of perceived obscurity.   All of which are, admittedly, things that when you get some perspective, are not what you want to attach your attention to in the long run.  So in addition to pondering the Situation in General, I thought about really how unproductive it is to allow the emotions to run the gamut when we encounter bumps in the road.  Of any nature, and especially bumps that we can’t control, such as bumps composed of Other People.  All we really have is the moment we are inhabiting right now.  We can’t be of service to ourselves or anyone else when we are following our emotional ups and downs like a dog following a bug in the summer grass.

So.  I decided to  try and calm the raging brain, sit calmly and focus on the highest possible good for everyone in all the various situations whirling around in my head like a crazed merry go round, and realize that really, all you can do is come from love in your heart.  Then the actions come of themselves; we are never going to please everyone, but we can treat them with love and care.  The challenge in this sometimes is that the very people and situations we wish to treat with this openness are opposed to our own well being.  It is hard to follow Gandhi’s admonition to be the change you wish to see in the world, but it is not impossible.  Every day is a chance to learn more and keep going.  Now, all this thinking has made this bear tired- I think I’ll go bake a pie for the Partner who does, with some notable barking exceptions, abide with all this and at the very least deserves a pie!