Going for the Ride – State of Mind- Attitudes and Choices
I realized how far I had come in my attitude of making the most of what I have, rather than focusing on what I don’t, when encountering my eighty nine year old father. He was becoming more limited in his walking from his bad knees, and a dicky heart valve. I was discussing with my parents a possible oldies bus trip down south for them. My mother really needed a break from her relentless routine of taking care of the house and my father. We weren’t sure whether my father would be up for the walks to the attractions from the bus. I said “Well you could stay behind and enjoy the view from the bus, or outdoor seating. You can still be enjoying the whole journey and wonderful scenery along the way, and you, and especially mum, have a change, a break, an adventure.” And my father replied “Oh but I would hate to be left behind on the bus”. As a consequence they didn’t go away on a holiday. So he would rather forgo the whole adventure through country Western Australia, which yes, would not be all that everyone else gets to experience, but it is a sizable percentage of that, and miss all the other wonderful things, because he would feel left out and alone sometimes. I was surprised by his response, comparing it with my own. Because I would be happy to go on a trip for some of the adventure, especially if it meant my worn out, caring partner could have a well-deserved holiday. I would share it with them, and enjoy hearing of where they had gone and what they had seen.
When I discovered our spirit can soar wherever we are (another chapter) it enabled me to be content with just being in my own company. I make the most of wherever I am sitting to imbibe, observe, watch, explore with my eyes, and reflect, in the country and the city. I’ve sat on many beaches and national park car parks or at picnic tables or perhaps a bench seat enjoying the view, the birds, the vista, the plants, the fresh smell of eucalypt forest, while whoever I am with is off on a big or small trek. I’ve invariably had a wonderful time as my spirit expands to meet the full force of nature, allowing the one to infiltrate my being and merge, letting it recharge me with space, sweeping out the inner cobwebs and grungy stuff. In fact on my own it is more deeply meditative because I am in silence and not chatting to my companions.
Not long after this surprising conversation with my father, I travelled to the deep southern forests with my good friends Satrup and Prabuhta, staying at Northcliffe. We drove through the magnificent wild karri forests to the rugged remote coastline, and everywhere we went I found somewhere nice to sit, while they went off for a walk along the beach or up the rocks or into the forest. I was really happy enjoying where I was. They came back shining, faces softer, more radiant, and I loved to hear of their adventure and of what they saw and what it was like. I didn’t feel I was missing much at all, because I had an enriching experience on my own. Yes I would love to be able to go for that bush or beach walk too, and have that freedom to imbibe these special often beautiful and magnificent places, but hey I can’t, so I don’t want to give that any more energy. Nor do I want to miss an amazing experience, or to be a drag of a friend, and make my friends feel guilty for enjoying themselves and having an ability I don’t.
My father’s attitude kept him living in a limited and restricted way, and it was not just him who was affected, my mother didn’t get her much needed holiday. To be fair to him, I’ve had forty years to gradually get used to restrictions and adapt around them. For my father all he had known was fitness and capability to do anything he needed to do, and so when disability came upon him he was ill prepared, and not used to adapting or looking for the bright side.
This has all been really helpful so I don’t have much of a sense of missing out in my life. Yet actually if most of you reading this were to walk in my shoes a mile (except I can’t actually walk a mile), you would probably have a hard time with the restrictions. To some it would appear on first glance that I must have a very limited life. But I have found not being able to walk everywhere, and all the other things most people take for granted, doesn’t mean I don’t have a huge, fulfilling life.