Saturday, June 28, 2008

Buddhist Philosophy and Family Caregiving

A caregiver said something very profound to me one day which I decided to tape to my wall. She said that as a young woman in her forties she couldn't stand the Buddhist philosophy of acceptance of what is. She always was a crusader for social change and "making things right." But now that she's 84 years old, as her body is failing her and her short term memory is leaving, she clings to the following Buddhist philosophy as a lifeline. Her words:

That it is possible and ultimately desirable to accept life's limitations while enjoying the mental and emotional freedom that comes from noticing the beauty inherent in every present moment. That no matter how bad things get there is always something in the present moment that makes life worth living and that it is my task to learn to spend more time noticing those things than I do lamenting the losses of the past and the worries of the future.

Today, as I sit writing this, I have the windows of my house closed up tight to keep the smoke in the air from billowing in. There's a huge fire burning across the bay in Big Sur and the wind is blowing the smoke directly this way. The heavy Santa Cruz fog keeps the smoke trapped in the air. We haven't seen the sun in two days.

Two friends were evacuated and narrowly missed losing their homes in a fire just a few miles away and now business associates are in danger of losing almost everything (home and livelihood) in Big Sur. The fires are literally just across the street from their homes. When I think about the challenges friends have been facing lately I have to be thankful for what I have in my life right now.

It frequently takes a crisis to remember what matters most. My Buddhist caregiver friend reminded me to take time to do that every day.


rilera said...

As a caregiver for my mother who has Alzheimer's, I'm definitely learning to live in the moment and see the good rather than the losses. Thank you for this post.

Anonymous said...

As a follower of Buddhist principles I recognize that peace is within us. But like you I am always seeing what in society and in ourselves brings peace and what creates turmoil. I want to fix what doesn't work well. My mother has dementia and her memory is pretty impaired and now I am enrolling her in a program where she can get help. It is a day program that she will go to three times a week. She is a sensitive woman, who knows her core wish to trust in the Universe, to love, to forgive, to be kind. But she has lived with childhood abuse and in her adulthood fear often wracks her mind. Isolation and loneliness are her worse worries. I am her best friend and in these times of her need she is becoming my best friend too. I wish I could find a country setting run by peaceful people in touch with life's essence. She loves the country, and music. Does anyone know of anything?