The lovely Gwen Bell has issued a challenge about a challenge: write about something that challenged you this year and how you overcame it and why it was a good challenge.
Here I go.
I'm doing it any minute.
I don't like to think about challenges. I just want them to go away tra la. I am lazy like that.
I don't know if I have overcome this one yet or not.
Ok, I haven't. It is my continuing challenge, one that I deal with every single day.
I am challenged by not having my parents' precipitous decline into old age taint my world view. The pain and suffering and helplessness they face every day as their bodies and minds wear our are almost more than I can bear at times.
Their existential crisis has become my existential crisis. What's it all about, Alfie?
I try to keep my eyes wide open. To be helpful and kind and to not minimize or ignore their suffering because I hate seeing it so much.
Sometimes I pass and on many days I fail. I forget that they aren't who they used to be.
I snap at them, I'm sarcastic, I'm impatient, I run out of there just to get away for a while.
The temptation is to put up a wall - not against them so much but against feeling what is happening to them and letting the full horror wash over me. Because it is horrifying, it is scary, it is painful.
It is only when I can gather my inner strength, my hidden Toltec warrior, and just be there that it is all ok. If I can just breathe through it, remember to be right there, right then - that's when I can feel all the feelings and let the power of love tie us together instead of let the misunderstandings, pains and fear tear us apart.
So. That's not the most cheerful challenge on earth, but there it is. There is no tidy ending, no Oprah-episode "Aha" moment. Just life. I hope that's enough.