June 2, 2012

The Art of Life

Now that my unanswered e-mail list is down to less than 10, I'm deleting old e-mails. I'm keeping this one, though, which I sent to my aunt in 2010: 
I was in immense distress over the weekend and went to see my psychiatrist immediately
on Monday.  After listening to me for several minutes he said I was having an existential
 "Bloody hell," I replied. I thought such crises were Freudian inventions with no relevance to 
solid Midwestern Americans like me. I was annoyed at the suggestion that my energy was
being sapped by the stench of mortality.

 Half an hour into the conversation I ventured the obvious conclusion:  "So the problem is life."
He replied, "No, the problem is death."

I said, "There's no difference. They're Siamese twins."

"Conjoined twins -- yes," he replied. 
 In other words, same old stuff.  My earlier crisis was brought on by the death of my late 
husband. This crisis was triggered by a small case of cancer with low odds of recurrence. I was
so over the ordeal by the time the crisis slammed me against the wall that I was furious
to learn the source of my misery.  
But isn't that how life works? Emotional disasters, none very different from their predecessors,
repeat and repeat. 
You'd think I'd have figured it out by now. 
 Oh, wait.  I did figure it out. I have a network of physicians, plus appropriate medications, 
plus a kind compadre, a solid support system, loving friends, an interesting life, unceasing
curiosity, and the occasional cockamamie desire to pursue a third master's degree purely for
the fun of it.  I am on top of the situation, strong and able (we won't count the ongoing joint
pains from the medication that keeps the chance of recurrence low).
 The good life.  It's not about the absence of sadness. It's about the presence of people good and
true who stand beside you, silently or noisily, wishing you the best in every passing moment.
 There's an art to letting people care for you; and I'm still practicing how to live it.The result?
A life I live as artfully as I know how, life as tapestry, graffiti, oil painting, acrylic, water color, 
sketch, poem, line from a nearly forgotten movie.It's the only way I can find that works for me. 

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