Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day

Yesterday was Father's Day. I usually visit my father every Sunday whether it's Father's Day or not. When I walked in the nursing home I could see his silhouette at the other end of the hallway as he slowly wheeled himself along in his wheelchair. We talked for a few minutes before he expressed a desire to go outside. He said, "I want to breathe some fresh air". He asked to go to the rose garden which is like a cross country journey for him. Happy to have the power to grant him this simple request, we made the long journey together. Afterwards I returned him to his room where he informed me he had to go to the bathroom. He cannot go alone and he's too much for me alone so I went to inform a nurse's aid. By the time I got back it was too late. When the nurse's aid arrived moments later we had to go through the difficult ritual of getting Dad from his wheelchair into his bed. At this stage of his life my Dad must wear a diaper as a precautionary measure. I helped to change him and to make him comfortable. When we were finished he looked at me with kindness in his eyes and said "Thank You". It must have been humbling for him to allow me to do this for him. By this time he was very tired so I left him so he could take an afternoon nap. I kissed him on his head and wished him a Happy Father's Day. Because of the untimely death on Friday of "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert, and the fact that yesterday was Father's Day, much was said this weekend on television about fathers and sons. I feel closer to my father now than I ever have. When I am with him in this difficult time of his life I am filled with tenderness and compassion and I know that he is grateful for my sometimes clumsy efforts to comfort him. The man who shares the room with my father was also having a difficult time so I helped him get in his wheelchair and position a pillow behind him. He was exceedingly grateful for my small act of kindness. It must be very frustrating to be old and sick and to depend on others for your care. Someday I may also be in this situation. It will be difficult for me to let go and allow others to do things for me. I have no desire to control others but I very much like to be in control of myself. This level of surrender may be life's greatest test for me and others.

A while back a co-worker gave me a DVD of "The Secret". I took it home and stuck it on my bookshelf and then it became a secret where I put it. Eventually I found it and spent part of a Sunday afternoon watching it. Apparently the DVD and book of the same name are quite popular although I was basically unsure of it's content. I did have a bit of a clue because another friend sent me an email that said I knew the "Secret" without realizing it because many of my daily thoughts had elements of the "Secret" in them. What is "The Secret"? Basically the secret has to do with the belief that all of creation and being are subject to the laws of attraction. In other words, we attract what we think about. If you are always worrying about debt or sickness, you will always be in debt and feeling sick. If you think about prosperity and well being, you will be prosperous and healthy. I don't think it is quite that simple but I do believe in the basic concept. I believe in positive thinking, good vibes, karma, and faith. I don't believe that simply thinking about a BMW will put one in your garage. I do believe that much of what we believe does become our reality. Although I have had negative and cynical thoughts in my life, in general my life has always turned out well and somehow all my needs have been met. I am generally a positive and optimistic person who strives to live a life of faith and who tries to always put out good vibes. Although everything doesn't go my way, most things do to my satisfaction. I would agree with the basic message that is the "Secret" but it is not magic. I do believe in and encourage positive thinking. I believe you get what you put out there. If you are a negative, pessimistic, nasty person, don't expect a lot of great things or wonderful relationships to come your way. Practice the religion of kindness and kindness will come your way. Do good and good will be done to you. Love and you will be loved. Have faith and you will move mountains. What we think often does become our reality but just as important is how we live and what we do. Although I believe all these things, I do acknowledge that sometimes bad things happen to good people. I could give you a theological explanation of why there is evil in the world. Whatever the explanation, you cannot deny there is evil and bad things do happen in the world. Evil has always been with us but I believe goodness will always win in the end. Would there be evil if every person was kind to his neighbor?

A Zen master once said to me, "Do the opposite of whatever I tell you." So I didn't.

Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still.
-T. S. Eliot


Eliezer Sobel said...

"A Zen master once said to me, "Do the opposite of whatever I tell you." So I didn't."

Hello Michael,

Just wanted to let you know that I am borrowing that great line above to post on my blog as well--I'll mention where I got it. Thanks!

Eliezer Sobel
author of The 99th Monkey: A Spiritual Journalist's Misadventures with Gurus, Messiahs, Sex, Psychedelics and Other Consciousness-Raising Adventures

Michael Brown said...


The Zen quote is not an original quote of mine. I am not sure where I found it. I am always happy, though, when other writers mention my blog to others.

Thank you!

Michael Brown