When my father died in May of 1998, just before my birthday, my mother said, “I can’t believe it.” She looked like she couldn’t believe it, utterly mystified.
Later, she said, “I will never cook again.” And she never did. She ate frozen dinners or went out to eat with her friend Bernie or her friend Helen. She usually ordered whatever was cheapest on the menu, not because she was poor, but because she was from the depression era and was afraid to spend money.
When the doctor told her to keep her weight between 140 and 143, she gave up eating real food. She refused to give up desserts, so she stopped eating everything else. We would go to a restaurant and she would always order last. Her order: the richest most chocolaty thing on the menu. She said, “I have a serious case of chocolate poor blood.”
When the doctor said, you need to exercise she said, “The only exercise I need is lifting the spoon to my mouth.” Later, after the brain tumor was removed from her head, she was sent to rehab. But she didn’t like the exercises they required—it wasn’t enough like lifting a spoon. She refused to do them. And they sent her to the nursing home where she remains today.
Yesterday, I reread the poem, “Instants,” by Jorge Luis Borges
Instants (minus the line breaks, which I tried twice to fix and it wouldn't fix!)
If I could live again my life, In the next - I'll try, - to make more mistakes, I won't try to be so perfect, I'll be more relaxed, I'll be more full - than I am now, In fact, I'll take fewer things seriously, I'll be less hygenic, I'll take more risks, I'll take more trips, I'll watch more sunsets, I'll climb more mountains, I'll swim more rivers, I'll go to more places - I've never been, I'll eat more ice creams and less (lime) beans, I'll have more real problems - and less imaginary ones, I was one of those people who live prudent and prolific lives - each minute of his life, Offcourse that I had moments of joy - but, if I could go back I'll try to have only good moments, If you don't know - thats what life is made of, Don't lose the now! I was one of those who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, without a hot-water bottle, and without an umberella and without a parachute, If I could live again - I will travel light, If I could live again - I'll try to work bare feet at the beginning of spring till the end of autumn, I'll ride more carts, I'll watch more sunrises and play with more children,
If I have the life to live - but now I am 85,
- and I know that I am dying ...
Jorge Luis Borges
I’ve always liked that poem. But I think we need to make the right choices. To balance work with play (“All work and not play makes Jack a dull boy” [or Jill a dull girl]—but the converse is also true.). We need to balance seeking pleasure with taking care of ourselves.
Pam reminds me that the pleasure of instants need not come from lack of exercise and rich chocolaty desserts:
"You have the equipment for JOY -- eyes, ears, and an experiencedappreciation meter -- to get highs, off and on all day long :the light fingering the row of books, the drops of rain on theclothesline, the long shadow the pebble casts at dawn, thependulum swing of a wasp settling in for a drink at the birdbath, the crunch, and spurt of juice and scent, as you bite theapple, the addictive sweetness of the ripe plum and the breathtakingway it pulls off the secret in the center, the hazybloom on the grape, the coiling circles behind your dug paddlewhen canoeing, the -- oh, on and on." (Quote from Pam and yes I also posted it on Silk Creek Portal)
Here's to an appropriate, joyful healthy balance in our lives.