More Urgent Now

I have to get a sense of purpose–now. I am driving one of my dearest friends crazy by being overly interested in her cat. I need a life, badly.

Everything was drama, drama, drama for so long. The house, Barry’s health, then moving.

Then I got sick. I got a cold that’s worse than one I’ve had in years. Not going to do much until I start to feel better.

Now I am starting to feel better and have more energy. And I desperately need something productive to do.

I need something so motivating that it will get me up in the morning, regardless of Barry’s situation. Something I feel is genuinely important. My problem right now is that everything feels so contrived. I feel like I am trying to manufacture emotions, which never works for me.

I don’t know how to fix this.

Not Focused only on the Present

“But karma and rebirth focus on past and future. Doesn’t the dharma teach us to focus totally on simply being mindful—fully present—in the present moment?

“The Buddha talks about the importance of focusing on the present moment only in the context of karma: You focus on the present because you know that there’s work to be done in training the mind inn developing skillful present intentions, and you don’t know how much more time you have to accomplish that training. If you don’t train it now, you’ll suffer both now and on into the future.” The Buddha’s Baggage, Tricycle, Winter 2016 issue, page 83

 

I have been looking for months for a quote that explains my concept of present-moment-living and karma.

I have nothing against focusing on the moment. Good choices can only be made now. If you don’t deal with now very well, later ain’t looking too good, either.

My issue has always been with the “live for today” crowd. As if tomorrow will never occur.

I think of those people, back in the late 80s and early 90s, who got HIV+ diagnoses. All of their friends had died quickly from AIDS. So they went out and spent every penny they had, took all the vacations they had ever longed for, ate all the food they wanted, etc., thinking their deaths were imminent. And modern medicine started to have resources that enabled HIV+ people to live long. And they didn’t die. Oops. Then they were broke, having blown all their resources. Try finding housing being HIV+ and broke. Tomorrow did come.

I am trying to make decent choices today. Trying to rest up for the next phase of my life. After the holidays, I am going to get more aggressive regarding respite care. I need to work. I have an MBA and am doing nothing with it.

I also need to take care of my health. I am all about quality, not quantity, of life. If someone wanted to shoot me today, I would welcome that. It would put an end to the care-taking phase (and all other phases for that matter) of my life. My problem is not “What if I die?” No….My problem is “What if I live?” I don’t want someone else changing my diapers. I want to be as functional as possible for as long as possible, if I must live. So I exercise, try to keep my brain working, eat healthy, etc.

I believe in delayed gratification, as long as it doesn’t turn into no gratification. Delayed gratification is called “discipline.” Everyone needs some. Zero gratification makes life not really worth living. I believe girls are raised believing in delayed gratification, only to find out too late that often there will be no gratification whatsoever. I feel duped. Now I am pushing fifty and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I have some anger here. I followed all the rules and did everything I thought I should and found out that there is no reward at all for doing so.

My philosophy is simple: Do whatever you want and try to learn from every mistake you make. Have fun in your twenties, thirties, and beyond. But don’t make the same mistakes when you are thirty as you made when you were twenty, at forty that you made when you were thirty, etc. There is a reasonable expectation that you should learn as you get older. People (rightfully) don’t have a lot of patience with fifty-year-old idiots doing the same crap twenty-year-olds do.

Living for today is good in some ways. But actions do have consequences. Sometimes tomorrow does come.

 

 

 

Down for a While

I have been sick the past week and a half. I am not surprised. I am okay during high-stress situations and then collapse afterwards. I did it in school all the time. The day after finals I would get really sick.

This is a bad cold. It even went into my chest. My lungs feel tired of breathing. I can’t remember the last time I felt like that.

I want this to be a time of transformation, but I’m having a hard time having the energy to do anything at all. My resistance and just plain exhaustion are kicking my butt. I’m not sure what I can do about it.

Leaves are Gone

For the most part, the trees are bare, but this fall has been spectacular.

Last week, there was one day where it was sunny, warm, and very windy. The leaves were swirling in giant shapes. I was driving and the song “Miracles” by Jefferson Airplane was on the radio. It was hypnotic. “If only you’d believe like I really believe, like I believe, we’d get by…” It was a little surreal.

This is what you always imagine fall should be like and almost never is.

The weather will start sucking soon, but I don’t care as much now that I am no longer stuck shoveling snow with a house I can’t take care of. It feels so good to not be a homeowner.

Establishing New Routines

I am moved. I have gotten rid of so much stuff, I am amazed.

I am trying to do things very consciously. I want to know everything I own. Having less stuff is so cool because I know very quickly when I am about to run out of something. No wondering if I have more of it somewhere.

I am also meditating more. I am absolutely determined to dig deeper within myself to know what I want and don’t want. I am trying to turn my life into a sort of retreat. I am going within and buying much less stuff. This means building new habits. In some ways, it is easy because TV sucks so much. I am not trying to practice Buddhism so much as trying to live my entire life in more of a Zen fashion. I am trying to do things that actually mean something to me. It’s very different.

I know things have changed when…

I just moved and am extremely busy.

What has been hard has been trying to keep things as normal as possible for Barry while I endure all the endless trauma.

This move is so different than the last one. It is because I am different. I know this because the idea of purchasing anything not absolutely necessary literally makes me sick. I am not joking. There are items I must purchase (food, a shower curtain, that kind of thing), but I cannot imagine going out and buying anything more that I would have to cram into the apartment. This is a physical revulsion. I will now be impossible to buy for because I know I will likely throw out whatever people give me.

This is involuntary simplicity. I am so much more organized than ever. I am a little impressed with myself. I didn’t know I could be this organized. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

Setting My Sights Low

We move Thursday.

Right now, my only goal is to be functional throughout this process. I got a good night’s sleep last night, thanks to taking an anti-histamine. I don’t like relying on drugs to function, but it beats the heck out of staying up all night listening to my heart beat. I don’t care if I have to take drugs every night for the next week if it keeps me up and running.

I feel like I understand more now how my friend felt a couple years ago when she moved. Her house was getting foreclosed on. She was declaring bankruptcy. She had to put a couple of her dogs to sleep because they were not handling the move well or adjusting to apartment living (and were too old and sickly to train and discipline). She was looking for a job in another state and moving all her crap. She has heart issues.

My move is comparatively leisurely. I am able to move more at my own pace. I don’t have heart problems. I don’t have to work right now.

My main issues are the internal emotions. The external drama is actually quite minimal. It’s all me. I am angry that my life has become so small and unambitious. I have all this education and am doing nothing with it because I am keeping a sick husband going. I am angry at myself for all those years of not getting clearer as to what I want. Part of me is furious that I have to move at all, let alone do all the organizing.

What I am trying to focus on is that this is temporary. Barry is going downhill and accelerating his descent. My parents validated that this past weekend. It’s not just my imagination. Every time he coughs or hacks, the urgency factor to move goes up exponentially. I need to be ready for when he dies. That is a big part of why I cannot deal with a house and him. For him, this move is inconvenient; for me, it is a giant pain in the butt, but also non-negotiable.

And so I pack. And try to exercise. And meditate. And take anti-stress homeopathic herbs. And anything else I can think of to make me functional. Whatever it takes to be okay. Nothing else matters.