Advertisement

Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

modern medicine and everyday miracles

imageSo remember the scratchy throat I was fighting? The beautiful grandson who was spewing germs as he laughed and climbed me like a mountain? Flu. Yup, flu.

Thank the universe (and modern medicine) for Tamiflu. Not only do I have grandson duty: I also have a pretty important date in D.C. next week. What I don’t have is time to be sick. Hence, I got my sick self to the clinic today, not even 24 hours after beginning to feel pretty punk.

I fully expect to be better before I have to fly to D.C. Although I may be a teeeeensy bit optimistic…I’m still hopeful.

Advertisement

How many miracles of everyday life do we take for granted? Having lived in many places w/out the benefits of modern plumbing, hot water, good streets, vegetables in the winter (really), or modern medicine, I rarely take my life for granted. Well, except for those times that I do…image

So here’s my grateful thanks for Tamiflu, Celebrex for arthritis, anti-depressants, hot water, dishwashers & washing machines, central heat, reliable transportation, urgent care clinics, and all the other benefits of 21st century American life. A job if you have one, even if it’s not the one you’d dreamed of. There’s even stuff like — the snow finally melted!

If you’re feeling a bit punk today, look around. I suspect that even on a blue day there’s vast occasion for gratitude.

Advertisement

viral moments and metaphors

imageThose oddly shaped, colourful objects are teethers. My grandson is teething. And (gross-out alert) he’s also blowing mucous in large quantities. Some is the result of teething — we had hoped it all was. But my aching bones, need for a nap, and incipient low-grade fever remind me that the daycare years might also be known as the viral years.

You can’t draw back from a loving 9-month-old. You can’t avert your face when they cough on you, avoid drool on your cashmere turtleneck (or your neck…), or otherwise avoid contagion.

Advertisement

Life’s like that — like an enthusiastic, sometimes snotty, 9-month-old. Incredibly cute/ alluring/ enticing, but sure to sneak up on you.

I can’t help it: I’m a poet, and I see metaphors/ similes/ and poetry  everywhere. It’s just how I am. And when I’m grandmothering, I’m worse, believe me.

Everything becomes a metaphor, a sign. A cold becomes life’s unexpected uphills, while the soft snuggle of a sleepy baby is the reward offered when you continue that uphill.

It’s worth it. The Tylenol, the noon nap, even the mucuous. Life is a 9-month-old grandson. And it’s sooo worth it.

Advertisement

sons, and daughters, and grandsons, and love

imageI’m one of those weird people who is happiest when giddy with loving folks. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, since I get considerable flak over it from family (are you high on happy pills??). But it’s true, if I’m honest — I’m far better at loving than being loved.

Probably a lot of us are like that — slightly uncomfortable w/ being loved. Waiting for the “it’s all a mistake” shoe to drop. Maybe it’s why almost everyone loves a wiggly puppy, a squirmy kitten, a babbling baby. When they love us, there’s no artifice or fear.

Advertisement

So imagine my heaven this week: I get to spend an ENTIRE WEEK just loving my elder son, my wonderful DIL, and my perfect grandson. I don’t even need lessons — one of the few times when my beginner’s heart feels absolutely competent.

I realise there are people whose families are sad disappointments. That would not be me. My sons, DIL, and nieces and nephews — the entire younger generation of our family, really — each have myriad wonderful gifts. Even when they sometimes make decisions that leave me thinking hunh… really? I’m crazy about them. It’s all I can do not to nuzzle on them like I do my grandson — they’re still that amazing.image

Advertisement

But  you can’t do that w/ elegantly dressed elder sons, or impeccably competent younger ones. Or with practically perfect DILs. At best, you can give them HUGE hugs, leaning into them and counting your blessings. (I recommend you do this inaudibly; they look at you weird if you count aloud.)

Now with Trin, my grandson, I don’t have to worry. Yet another reason to treasure this week I’m ostensibly ‘helping out.’ My son is recovering from flu, my DIL has a conference half-way across the country, and who you gonna call? GG! Whose beloved (the granddad) is fine with sharing me, knowing I’m in 7th heaven hugging, nuzzling Trin, cooking and cooing and visiting and just loving.

And that’s just fine — I don’t even care if Trin is in the throes of ‘stranger!’ It’s not about him loving me anyway ~

Advertisement

Humanities, and what makes life worth living

NEH logoI spent two days this past week w/ humanitarians. Now, they wouldn’t call themselves that. They would say they’re worker bees, if they said anything at all. Not folks to tout their own horns, humanities board members. And especially not in Oklahoma.

But these very busy worker bees — directors, CEOs, vice-presidents, teachers, professors, lawyers, & more — took a full WORK DAY to come to a meeting talking about the humanities in our state, specifically our Oklahoma Humanities Council.

Advertisement

Wow. That is a gift beyond even $$ (they also each give generously to the Council, as well). And you know why? Because through the day (and the previous evening’s dinner), I heard over and over: what we do is important. The humanities are important.humanities

What’s ironic is that when I mention the humanities to family, friends, and colleagues, there is all too often a blank stare. Folks confuse us with the arts (the arts are part of us; we aren’t only the arts), or with some of the several individual disciplines we include: architecture, art & art history, classics, east Asian languages and cultures, English, history, linguistics, literature, medicine, music, philosophy, social sciences, religious studies, theater… and I’ve probably forgotten something!

Advertisement

Can you imagine life w/out any one of these? Much less ALL? Because in many small Oklahoma towns — and in towns all over the country — if the Federation of State Humanities Councils didn’t receive monies from the NEH, there would be no humanities programming.

humanities 4This year, programs — at least in Oklahoma — include book talk (lots!) at libraries, covering every topic you can imagine: the history and lore of Route 66, women’s autobiographies, detective fiction, the ethnic diversity of America, the cowboy, the American Civil War, Oklahoma in the Dust Bowl, food literature… Another long and fascinating list!

Advertisement

There’s also literature and medicine, the Oklahoma state poet laureate, and many small grants to communities to fund community ideas for programs highlighting specific interests. What is more important than human feelings in the operating room? Or poetry programs engaging our young? How can I decide better than you — in your community — what you want and need?

When people ask me why the humanities are important, and why we should continue funding them in an increasingly tighter budgetary climate, think of these questions, but I respond with another question. It’s one I think is only answered by the humanities, humanities 3not by business, or technology, or the STEM subjects (much as I love them). Only a book, a painting, a piece of music…a tussle w/ philosophy, or difference, or another culture…an account from history, or new info on the settlement of the western hemisphere, will help us answer it:

What does it mean to be human? That’s what the humanities do, fundamentally. They offer us the tools for each of us to answer that question in our own beginner’s hearts. And that’s why funding them — advocating for them — is critical to all of us.

 

Previous Posts

more on the home front ~
Today was 'look at houses' day. Funny how pictures bear so little resemblance to the real thing. When I taught, I used to give my students postcards from ...

posted 2:36:27pm May. 26, 2015 | read full post »

hunting for home
Looking for a house is hard. Looking while recognising that this will be your long-term home -- not a rental, not a summer vacation -- is ...

posted 5:40:03pm May. 25, 2015 | read full post »

living through the unexpected (with equanimity?)
 This is how we spent two hours Friday: lined up to cross the French Broad River bridge. TWICE. (I've been calling it the French Bread River Basin since then; ...

posted 10:32:07pm May. 24, 2015 | read full post »

road trips
You see differently when you're on the road. Something about the ribbon of highway before you, the enclosed space of the car, the forced closeness and the ...

posted 9:36:21am May. 22, 2015 | read full post »

the right thing (even though...)
This is the 2nd baby rabbit that Sophie-the-13-year-old-cat has brought in to us. Unfortunately, the 1st one didn't survive the experience :( . (We won't go ...

posted 1:44:17pm May. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.