Sunday, January 23, 2011

A little fishing tale.

One day, there was a man who lived a modest, but happy life in a small fishing village. Every day he woke up, played with his two kids, had breakfast with his wife and went to fish. At night, he returned home with his fish to sell in the market the next morning. He had a wonderful dinner each night by an outside fire and he and his family played games and read until bedtime. They had many friends in the village who stopped by all of the time. They were really happy.

Then a friend from a big city came to visit. He told the man, you are not successful. You need to get your degree and go to work in the city and provide a better life for yourself and your family. Ashamed, the man agreed. They sold their small hut, and left to what they thought would be a brighter future.

The man and his wife bought a beautiful home that needed a lot of upkeep. The man never had time to play and have breakfast with his wife and kids. He hardly ever fished anymore. His kids went to fine schools and attended many activities, but were never happy anymore. They missed their dad and their mom, who had to go to work as well to maintain this life. No one came over to visit because everyone they knew were also very busy.

After the kids were off to college and on their own, the man and his wife decided that they were now ready to retire, as the man had had a heart attack from working so hard. He worked and saved all these years so that he could afford to retire in a little fishing village.

The man and his wife moved back to the small, little fishing village and bought a new hut. He gets up every morning and has breakfast with his wife and goes off fishing. He is very happy now, sorry that he had to leave this life for so many years so that he could call himself a success. Now all of his friends from the big city are impressed that he can retire to such a fine, comfortable village and be so happy and stress-free. What they fail to realize is that he could have had this all of his life and his children would have been happier, he would have been healthier, and they would have all been just fine. All of his friends that still work in the big city are working even harder now so that they, too, can afford to move to a fishing village and be happy and fish everyday.

They want to have his success now, too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eva Cassidy - What A Wonderful World (Live 1996) (Louis Armstrong)

This gorgeous voice was silenced by melanoma when she was only in her early thirties.
It reminds me that the world is indeed a very beautiful place to be, but it can also be so damn cruel.

Here is a link to a Nightline story about Eva Cassidy.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What the New Year brings.

Last night was New Year's Eve and I worked a 12 hour shift. I admitted a woman to our hospice house whose daughter had to make the grueling decision to stop her mom's dialysis treatments and let her die. The mom has advanced cancer, cannot eat or drink and is in pain. She is 79 years old. The dialysis kept her alive. Now she will surely die and the daughter was in despair.

"This is the worst New Year's Eve of my life," she said to me as she sat in the green recliner chair next to her mom's bed and cried.

I look at her and nodded. No words were really needed. I understood. It was only a few short years ago that my brother and I made the same decision to stop life support for our dad.

"You made the right decision," I told her. And I told her I knew how hard it would be, how she will continue to second guess herself, how she will be sad.

Then she looked at me and said, "So, what will the New Year bring? Where will it take me. I always lived with my mom. What will I do now? Do I start over?"

Good question.

Good question indeed.

We all feel a desire for a new start every once in a while. The New Year promises a fresh start, but it is usually more of the same, even though we make a lot of resolutions. And we trudge on hoping for a change perhaps, hoping there is some magic in the turn of a new year.

But we seldom find it.

So, what does the New Year bring?

I am not sure. I guess it brings new expectations. And that can feel like a burden at times.

So I told her that the New Year has a lot of false promises. We want to have a fresh, new, happy start, but that is not always possible. Actually it is seldom possible. Even in the best of times.

But it does not have to be all doom and gloom. We can just accept ourselves and our lives and and try to love ourselves despite all the bad and despite the unknown. If we want change, it is not going to come more easily if we beat ourselves up over it. Maybe instead of having a bunch of resolutions we will most likely break, we should just resolve to do things we enjoy and that bring us joy, even if fleeting.

I asked the patient's daughter what they normally did on New Year's Eve. She told me her mom always made soda bread and they sat down to tea.

So, we made tea in the hospice house kitchen and toasted her mom for a glorious life well lived. And we toasted the daughter and made a toast to a life that will be sad for a while, but that will have wonderful memories to take along that will comfort her along the way.

She smiled. We laughed at some funny stories.

And the New Year brought joy, however briefly.

“When you wish someone joy, you wish them peace,
love, prosperity, happiness... all the good things.”
~~~ Maya Angelou

“Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by.”
~~~Carl Sandburg

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
~~~Thich Nhat Hanh