My biggest challenge: staying the course
I've lived my life on the edge. It’s been a life filled with outrageous and often imprudent risk and adventure across continents. But now? It's all about staying the course.
Few friends would have predicted that I'd come back home to the Midwest and stay in one place for so long doing something so hard and so traditional. It's all about the dailiness now. Because, who knows tomorrow?
Since 2004 I've been taking care of one or the other of my parents. Eight years is a long time. First my father and I cared for my mother until her death in 2006. We made a strong team. And now I care for my father--who amazingly has made it to 96--as part of a family care team.
Companioning my father towards his death is the firmest and most taxing commitment I've ever made. I may be shaken off that horse I've mounted. But, I'll keep getting back on.
My father has shown me how love works. We get mad or have a fight, and there's still love on the other side of the mad. I rest in bone-deep knowledge that neither of us is going anywhere. It's most likely the only 'til death do us part relationship I'll have.
I just need to stay the course.
Staying the course requires constancy. And that requires reconciliation with constraints beyond my control. My schedule is not my own. How can contentment be such a hard-fought achievement? Constancy and contentment require comfort. For once in my life I am more than happy to remain in my comfort zone--at least as far as I can map it. This stretch of my life is about the day-after-day walking along the path--no matter whether it's smooth, muddy, rocky, or filled with ruts.
In my 20s I climbed three mountains in Africa: Mt. Cameroon (West), Mt. Kenya (East), and Lesotho (Southern). Each mountain had its own character. Mt. Kenya makes for a clear metaphor because the terrains are so sharply defined: rainforest, bog, alpine, and then from the top hut the glaciers leading to the peak. In between the sharp ascents in each terrain there are passages of flat and gradual ascent. That’s where I am now. Headed for the top hut along an imperceptibly gradual path. It’s okay with me.It's gotta be.
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