MAYBE I’VE BEEN LOOKING AT LIFE WRONG

Let’s be honest. We have days like this. Ones where we wish we didn’t have to deal with these a#!/?\*s. You know the ones I mean, even if you live halfway around the globe. They’re one and the same.

But we’re all in this together. No matter what they think.

Now, what can we do together … to solve the real problems we’re all facing?

Well, that’s how it too often feels. But could another take give us a healthier way of dealing?

Suupose, for example, what if we’re all nuts?

Not just the others, the ones all around us who leave us pondering the rampant lunacy. (Not just in politics or the workplace, either. The highways are full of them. As for the checkout line at the store?)

No, what if we who’ve thought ourselves responsible and sane, are really the looniest of all?

Might we enjoy life more if we joined the out-to-lunch club?

~*~

Close to home, I’m seeing how trying to cope with an elderly family member afflicted with advancing dementia can put the caregiver in a tailspin. Somehow there must be a better way to span their alternative outlook and our reality without losing our own balance or course of action. Is it possible to enter their world and still stay grounded?

Just why am I here, anyway? What am I supposed to be doing? Or, as my dad used to ask when looking at his nursing home, “Who’s paying for this hotel? Who’s paying for this dinner?”

From my perspective, he seemed to be trapped in a dream that would rarely allow him to waken. As much as I love good dreams, I anticipate and appreciate the clarity of a wakeful state.

But then I write and read fiction and poetry, and maybe they bridge these awarenesses in alternate worlds. And I meditate, which enters other realms as well, at least as far as most people are concerned.

~*~

So here I am, still trying to make sense of it all. Maybe it’s time to reread some of those old stories about celebrated lunatic Zen monks. Think we’d find a clue there? Loud laughter, after all! Unexpected twists in everyday perception!

Stuck with a similar diagnosis, I’d want to be the one filled with childish delight in the trip. Maybe the one lost in a world of prayer for the world and all within it. Maybe I shouldn’t even wait – start now to look at all my surroundings with such wonder.

I’m open to other perspectives and suggestions. Anyone else on board here?

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9 thoughts on “MAYBE I’VE BEEN LOOKING AT LIFE WRONG

  1. They say ignorance is bliss—perhaps lunacy is as well. But just as the literate cannot choose to return to ignorance, the ‘sane’ cannot choose to opt out of their rational viewpoint. Moreover, the envy engendered by the ignorant or the mad is akin to our envy of children playing, blithely unaware of the darker lessons waiting to be learned—although there is a big difference: we anticipate our children will become more like us, where the insane or ignorant may remain as they are, forever.
    So, if we can’t wait for them—and we can’t join them—we are left with the stolid fact that there’s a reason we have the word ‘crazy’—it is a dividing line. It doesn’t determine friend versus enemy, like a normal dividing line, it determines shared perception, or lack thereof. We have the same dividing line with animals—but crazy people get a higher status—we ‘humor’ the insane far more than we concern ourselves with animals’ feelings. ‘Crazy’ raises a hard question: “How do we retain respect for another person when we have no respect for that person’s mind?”
    I witnessed a special case of this, with my father-in-law, who had Parkinson’s disease. A genius who spent his life in a laboratory, with many valuable patents to his name, was fated to spend the final months of his life harried by delusions, hallucinations, and fits of paranoid violence. My wife and my mother-in-law cared for him, though he had ceased to be who he was—even having to defend themselves sometimes from his delusional flailing.
    Though the person they loved was already gone, they respected the body he had left, out of respect for who he was. But this burden was lightened by the knowledge that the situation was a temporary state—a prelude to his final, physical leave-taking.
    Reasonable, sensitive, perceptive people may see themselves as the norm—but what if they are the blessed, favored with something not every human is granted? Is it futile to want the human race, as a whole, to be as good as its good examples? It may be that we should simply be grateful when we find our vision clearer than the common run and, rather than chide the rest, accept them for the range they represent. We don’t choose to be born with a high IQ any more than we choose to be born with a low one.
    Then again, maybe I’m just impatient—people can be taught, people can be influenced. If I see people being confused, my first impulse is to step in and try to help—but so many people have confusion mixed with certainty—and it is exhausting trying to influence someone, when they are more sure of themselves than I am. How do we keep respecting the person when we lose respect for their mind? I don’t know.

  2. Hi, Jnana,

    I get it. Tibetan Buddhists also have “crazy wisdom” practitioners and teachers who are kind of like the “clowns” in one of my favorite and inspirational social satirists/social speculative fiction author, Ursula K. Le Guin’s, amazing compendium of stories in “Always Coming Home” (http://www.powells.com/book/always-coming-home-9780520227354/74-12). They mirror our oddities, poke fun at our pride and ignorance, demonstrate what going to extremes looks like to others and generally get us to lighten up.

    Tibetan Buddhists also say that we are in “degenerating times,” which means things are going to get much worse before they may or may not get “better.”

    Not cheering you up, I imagine, but on your side.

    Sally

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