Thursday, September 23, 2010

The right question

Daisies, Wednesday
I awoke this morning early (4:45) and with a clear head understanding that when I die God will not ask me How many manuscripts did you publish? And certainly not Did you keep your room nice?  But How well did you love?  This is after all our first priority (unhappy with that word).  It is to love and cherish our selves, too, keeping our bodies clean and nourished.  I thought a bit about women and how we look, our conditioned need for external reinforcement and to believe that we meet the (impossible) cultural standard for women.  About my poor mother, who in her dotage would tell over and over stories that said she had been not just a good girl, but perfect.  How my father, when she had lost a lot of weight, high thyroid, said “Sexy.”  I’m sure he was sorry, for she would have asked him again and again, Ed, do you really think I look sexy? In a timid wavering voice.  Oh, someone said she was Beautiful.  And once my poor father said Helen always kept herself immaculate.  Over and over I heard these poor claims.  External supports she clung to, along with her “booze” and cigarettes and videos.  Attempts to escape the terror she felt at not meeting the necessary standards.

Unfortunately, she put her compassion to the same end.  She had a story about how she took a young woman “my spaghetti and meatballs” (a sacred accomplishment, her own) and the woman, who was laid up with something like hip surgery, crocheted a white afghan for her in thanks.  Over and over I heard that story, and my mother’s wonder that something she did mattered to someone that much.

Well, this is where I come from.  It has been hard to get out from under it, but I was lucky to have tools - an education, therapy, spiritual practice, kind teachers along the way.  Ama Samy once said to all of us, "You are alright."  (So please put that issue to rest.)  "Now get to work."

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday! Wishing you good health for years to come!