Exhale Only Love
Life’s greatest irony is that the those who need the most love are the ones who seem to be making it their life’s work to be unlovable. Right now, I think we are all a pretty unlovable, anxiety ridden messes. Everyday the news is sadder, alarming and more disgusting. I cannot even begin to discuss the toll of our zero tolerance immigration policy. I will ask just one question as an aside, where are all the “all lives matter” people now? The deafening silence as we ripped children away from parents, locked them in cages, and forced unethical surgeries, shouted all lives matter as long as they are white. The tragic state of our country is well documented; all I can do is vote and hope that this system that seems poised to maintain the evil will surprise me. It seems hopeless.
I am a doer, so hopeless morphs into “how do I fix it”. Not much to fix politically, but here in my little kingdom, there is plenty to work on as Mama Maria is giving me a run for my money. Maria is not her most lovable self right now. She is not even in the ballpark of her most lovable self. It was a week of despair as the full impact of the Yankees not appearing in the World Series sunk in. The small glimmer of positivity was that the Dodgers were her first team until they betrayed everyone and moved out of Brooklyn, so a reason to cheer. Positivity has not been sustained, because in a moment of rare Maria "wokeness", she declared the Dodgers too white. Though not true, the team does seem to have a couple of exceptionally blonde and ginger players who my mom seems to find objectionable. My mother even noticing any kind of racial imbalance (perceived or not), and then wanting to see more people of color was such a shock, that I am calling it growth.
My mother is not without her prejudices, and it appears this old gal has learned a new trick. It must also be said that it provided my sister and I with a giant belly laugh as my sister called and reported in a tone of utter disbelief, that mom had just asked if she thought the Dodgers were racist. I will put it in the win column, if Maria is asking about Black Lives Matter and racism, the message is making headway, admittedly not in an expected way, but hey small gains, and oh the laughter, a miracle.
It was the only win. The week was one of increased confusion as mom’s sleeping patterns have radically changed. Never a great sleeper, she is now a terrible one. Waking at night, staying awake, back to sleep for a fitful hour or two, up again, and then finally sleeping the morning away. One day waking up at two in the afternoon caused utter panic. Maria is embarrassed and I think a little frightened of the change. She is disoriented and feeling even more of her small bit of control slipping away. We Lucena‘s love our control, and Maria this week was in cornered animal mode; mean, defensive, striking out; unloveable.
A new arsenal of tricks appeared, refusing to pick up the phone to talk, refusing to tell me when she needs food, then complaining that she had no food, (no food means no lean cuisine classic comfort meatloaf and mash potatoes, bananas and mints). The strange sleep patterns coupled with “money hungry corporations who take advantage of people”, has my mom eating two sometimes more a day of these frozen horror shows disguised as food. Apparently, the money hungry Lean Cuisine folks have made the meatloaf like substance noticeably smaller, and Maria is angry.
The fact of the matter is my mom’s life is so much smaller; and yes, she is spitting mad. She refuses help, and as she can rally to seem much more with it when needed, legal means of getting her help are still impossible. This legal road, is an ugly road; I feel more than a little relief that court is not yet an option. Maria’s survival skills, honed by her incredibly abusive childhood give her the superpower of being at her best when she is most stressed. Chaos is her comfort zone, brutal realities her personal wheelhouse. While, I struggle to pause and answer with love as she spews her anger at me. Monday, she told me that she didn’t answer the phone when I called because the phone rang too many times. She answered the fifth time I called between classes, and young dancers all around. I quietly told her that I was l was worried as we spoke everyday at least once. I know her tv let’s her know who is calling; the tv is sadly never off. Her response as always “who asked you to worry”.
I hear who am I to love? I have always conflated worry and love; and assigned myself the role of Queen fix it at a very young age. It has been deeply disappointing to discover how little I can actually fix; how much less I even control. Frankly, disappointing is not quite strong enough a word, I feel something close to heartbreak as I watch my mom and others in my life choose the hardest roads possible. I use every tool in the tool box trying to keep a joyful loving mind and heart as the world explodes around me. The question of how to stay engaged and not break is one that rules my life. It is a question I have no answer for.
I have tried to stop worrying; this is a journey. I worry far less, but the habit of a lifetime is not an easy one to put down. I have tried to replace the worry with meditation, which makes me probably seem super annoying. I am balancing out political and world news with Buddhist teachings and philosophies; which as I write this makes me see, that yes! I might indeed be the world’s most annoying human. I’ll take the sash and crown, if it keeps the despair at bay.
I have struggled my whole life with depression. It is both a genetic legacy and the gift of a brain/heart that absorbs the sorrows of the world around me. What used to be a curse, I view now as gift, as I discern for compassion, instead of the instant judgment that were my go to. I am not my depression or despair, and view these response as logical in this sadly cruel world. I choose joy, and maintain a simple life that nurtures the good.
I am human, I make mistakes, I say the wrong things or something comes out the wrong way. I’m often impatient, and my mother drives me to the brink as she pushes every button she created. But I am pausing before I speak, and as Rumi writes I am exhaling love and add joy as a bonus. I am actively seeking out laughter, even while pondering life’s big mysteries.
This is what I am asking of myself and those around me: can we in these next days of division, anger, hopelessness, and flat out ugliness exhale love?
Can we try to remember that we are all in this dance together?
Why are we here ifnot to love each other?
Why are we here if not to laugh and dance?
Laugh on, dance on, and let’s all breath in the joy and breathe out the love.