“Act in the moment, live in the present, slowly. . . slowly. . . don’t allow the past to interfere, and you will be surprised that life is such an eternal wonder, such a mysterious phenomenon and such a great gift that one simply feels constantly in gratitude.”
Last night we watched “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. For those who may not have seen the movie, the basic premise is (and I borrow from an Amazon.com review):
In brief, the film revolves around the coming together of seven elderly and somewhat impecunious Britons who, of their own volition, and quite separately, decide to retire to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in Jaipur. They discovered the place on the internet and, as we all should know, the internet can sometimes be a bit misleading. Indeed, this is the case here. The hotel had been billed as a marvelous palace when, in fact, it was tired and chaotic.
The seven visitors form the key members of the cast and are led by Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy. Some can adjust to the way of life in India while others fail completely. Along the way, we are given a peek into daily life in India in all its colour and noise.
This movie was in some way a culmination of a day of disquiet for me as I repeatedly contemplated the question of what I would do without Laureen. And I don’t mean this in the sense of creating a bucket list of things I would do. I mean, like, what the hell will I do if I lose Laureen? This thought grew out of a comment that she’d made to me the day before, reminding me that her surgeon, during one of our bedside meetings, had made what I took to be a sort of off-the-cuff remark about Laureen’s “quality of life” after the surgery. I guess I’d shunted that commented aside in my effort to just focus on getting through each day but apparently it is a comment that has stuck to Laureen and so when she brought it up the other day my immediate urge was to dismiss it has not having any significance or meaning to our situation.
It’s not that I’m fooling myself. I understand that the surgery wasn’t a “cure” for her liver cancer. It seems to have eradicated what they could find and maybe that’s all there is. But that doesn’t mean that we’re done with this. And so it left me begging the question, “what the hell will I do if she doesn’t come fully out on the other side of all of this?” I mean, like, she’s the One. The only one. There’s never going to be another Laureen in my life. You only get that kind of thing once – and once if you are lucky! I was lucky, and even luckier to recognize it for what it was. And what a hell of a ride it has been.
I have also been starting to wrestle with the ancillary question of – if we only have a limited amount of time (and there is no answer to that question with any sense of surety whatsoever), then what should we be doing with our time? Does it make sense to go back to “business as usual”? (My heart immediately says NO to that). So then, what? What do we do differently? Thus far, I don’t know.
A part of me believes that the answer is in Osho’s words that open this entry. Live in the present moment. Take in every bit of the present moment. Just be with her. Just be in the moment. It doesn’t matter if we are sitting on a beach in the South Pacific, or just sitting on our deck in the middle of nowhere special. The fact that I am with her is what matters.
And so, last night, watching the story of seven aging people trying to figure out what to do in the twilight of their lives – I don’t know – it was interesting, but it was also disquieting and I was left with the question of – “Is this what we really have to look forward to at the end of our lives?”
Interestingly, we had company Saturday night and our mutual friend, Karen, was asking us if we’d ever consider doing a co-housing / intentional community sort of a thing and while I’d never really thought about it before, I can clearly see the appeal now. In a world where you seldom know your neighbor anymore, wouldn’t it be reassuring to live in a community where you know that other people have “your back”? Especially as one ages . . . We can’t expect our children to look after us in our old age and our government certainly has no desire to do so. Our culture is such that it worships youth and hides and dismisses its elders. The only thing left to do is to take care of each other.
I guess I’m discovering that as I stand on the doorstep of growing into old age, I don’t think I’m liking the view.