Hello dear readers! Long time no post. I’m delighted to see so many new followers! It may not seem like much to some, but to know that my words resonated enough with you that you wanted to read more fills me with gratitude and inspires me to create more.
Maybe you’ve noticed how much uncertainty there is in the world. Me from the beginning of 2020 would have been gripped by anxiety about it, but as I’ve been on this journey, I’ve embraced the idea of shōganai that I learned from Ikigai & Other Japanese Words to Live By by David Buchler and Mari Fujimoto. Shōganai literally means “there is no means or method.” This word teaches that we often must accept things as they are.
“We can’t fight change and when we encounter a situation beyond our control, shōganai gives us permission to let go of negative feelings, such as anger, disappointment and guilt and embrace acceptance.”From Ikigai & Other Japanese Words to Live By
I’m enjoying learning this and embracing uncertainty, of letting go of what no longer serves me and letting my heart lead (when I can get my brain to agree).
As I’ve been on this spiritual journey, I’ve been wondering how I can best help people. Something inside me compelled me to move home with my mom for a bit. She’d been living alone; my brother moved out a while ago, and she’d been separated from my dad for some time. In 2002, he sustained a traumatic brain injury and it shattered the family. It changed him completely. He looked the same, but the injury affected the frontal lobe, which deals with personality and decision-making. Easily frustrated and confused, he once tried to choke my younger brother. I pulled him off, and now my brother is the coolest person I know, but after that it was no longer safe for my dad to be in the same house with us. There wasn’t enough money to keep my dad in personal care homes and pay the mortgage, and the summer before I went to college we lost the house my brother and I had grown up in, the house my parents built. My mom tried to foster some semblance of a relationship between us and my dad. She’d often say to my brother and I through gritted teeth, “You can have whatever relationship you want with your father.” When she said that, it sounded like a dirty f word. I interpreted that has her wanting us to have no relationship with him, and when he died in 2018, that’s exactly the kind of relationship we had.
We’re still healing from alllllll of that, and this is just a v brief summary. Maybe I’ll write more about it one day, but that’s not the point of this post.
Oh, by the way, if you’re looking for writing tips, this isn’t going to be one of those posts. This is another mental health post!
It’s no secret that my relationship with my mom has been strained since my dad’s accident. It was my intention that moving home would be an opportunity to improve that. And even though I’d given up the idea of changing her – because we can’t change anyone, only our perception of them – I was optimistic that she’d see the pillar of positivity I’d become and that it would inspire her.
So one night, while making riced cauliflower, I call to float the idea past her. Without hesitation, she says, “Hey, come on home!”
I pack up the essentials – clothes, books, my in-progress scifi/fantasy/musical, my ukulele and my bag of woo-woo (incense, sage, Tarot cards, French lavender essential oil, and gemstones). I’m looking forward to this. At the very least, I figure I’ll be able to help her clean out the basement and garage of clutter no longer serving us from a decade of displacement. And considering I’d just done that with my friend (who’s been kind enough to let me stay with him while I figure out what’s next), I was ready to turn it up a notch and embrace another teaching from Ikigai, that of kaizen. This word was used originally as a standard for efficiency in business, but it is essentially a philosophy of optimism that focuses on actions to find improvements. “If we find that something is lacking, whether in quality, organization, or process,” the book says, “we should take stock of the problems and work to change things for the better.”
Friday is bright, practically mirroring my sunny optimism, when she arrives in her 2019 Honda HR-V. To my complete shock, she lets me drive; previously, she’d said she didn’t trust me enough. Moon roof open, we drive to the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh and spend the afternoon there. We get delicious nonalcoholic beer tea at Dobrá, a couple mushroom slices at Napoli Pizzeria, check out Jerry’s Records and Global Market Retail. I get my mom peridot earrings and myself a selenite necklace. As far as days go, this one was pretty perfect. I felt like the stage was set with positivity for the undetermined amount of time I’d be spending with her. We drive the hour south of the city to the small town of my youth. I go to bed that night feeling peaceful and optimistic that this was a good decision.