Monday Morning Musings:
“The search for meaning, much like the search for pleasure, must be conducted obliquely. Meaning ensues from meaningful activity: the more we deliberately pursue it, the less likely are we to find it.”
–Irving D. Yalom quoted in Brainpickings here
My sister and I listen to the woman,
she is perfectly pleasant, if a bit harried–
it’s possible she’s double-booked her appointments.
We can only offer your mother six hours of care, she says
(that we may or may not pay for)
but we can’t let you know until you pick one of the providers.
(We stare blankly at the five-page list.)
No, I can’t recommend any of them–
can you imagine if it didn’t work out?
But you can call and ask them questions.
(That shouldn’t take much time, right?)
No, the caregivers are not permitted to give your mom medication
I guess you’ll have to work something else out.
Yes, we do offer some free meals, but only if you go with our program–
and your mother would have to pick up a week’s worth at the front desk
Well, yes, I can see she uses a walker and is nearly blind, but that’s how it’s done.
I hear these meals taste kind of nasty–
Now the dinners from that other program . . .
(the one your mother is ineligible for because her income from Social Security is slightly over the cutoff, though it’s not enough to pay her rent)
Yeah, those meals are delicious. . .Do you have any questions?
My sister and I look at each other—we have lots of questions,
but nothing she can help with.
She’s referred inexplicably a few times
to the process, program, situation
as “catch 52”—
perhaps it is all so ridiculous that “catch 22”
is no longer enough to describe it.
My sister goes home, my husband and I go home, too,
we feed the cats, and then visit a winery.
We drink wine, listen to music, and eat mac and cheese.
Decompress, not deconstruct.
The next day I cook and bake,
the kitchen exorcism
being a well-known technique for
getting rid of any lingering demons.
Our younger daughter is visiting a friend in Japan.
she sends us a photo
the two of them with a snake.
I think if anyone could charm a snake,
it would be her–
though she looks terrified.
I think of my younger self–
once I held a snake
and had a head full of dreams,
not as practical as either of my daughters,
and not as charming either,
but in those days
my mother could see and walk
and was raising another child.
I raise a glass to wish,
only suddenly I’m
uncertain what to wish for.
We watch a mystery series
there’s murder, conspiracy, and violence
yet we know that at the end
the questions will be answered,
the mystery solved.
And if it’s not completely tidy,
it’s enough to satisfy.
Maybe the answer is 42, after all
though I’m not sure
of the question anymore.
I pour another glass of wine,
Perhaps “to life” is enough.
We watch the storm—
rain urges moon,
and she sings,
bares away language
to let live the cool whispers
of blue shadow light
on aching skin.
Life is wanted here—
(If not, when?)
Together, we soar.
The Oracle gave me this coda of hope and action. I’m sure she knows that the expression is “bear away,” but she is clever, and no doubt she enjoyed the double meaning here.