We can walk to a gorgeous, redesigned public library from our new house, so Sonia and I recently rediscovered the magic of borrowing books. You can take 10 home, try them all on for size, and read one or none at all!
We've been interested in mindfulness, so The Book of JOY became my bedtime reading. It's written by Douglas Abrams and details a week when His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, two dear friends and spiritual leaders of Buddhism and Christianity respectively, spent a week together talking about the meaning of life.
All three are listed as authors because the spiritual leaders' dialogs are recorded and sometimes quoted for several pages at a time.
It has gems like this: "Modern society has prioritized independence to such an extent that we are left on our own to try to manage our lives that are increasingly out of control" (p. 95).
My independence is often at issue in our relationship. Sonia doesn't understand why I won't call my dad to help us hang a new light fixture or tear out the old bushes by the front sidewalk.
I try to explain. I never saw my parents asking their parents for anything. They did everything on their own. Parents give you eighteen good years and then they should be able to reap the benefits of their hard work. It's your turn to shine.
Korean culture is more familial, so that even though it's just the four of them plus the sister-in-law in the U.S. (and, more and more, me!), the bonds seem stronger. Dinner every two weeks is non-negotiable. Parents weigh in on how much you're eating, how healthy you look, how eager they are for grandchildren.
My parents have never in 36 years asked about grandchildren, and so I have no idea how they picture their role in that time of life. Sonia's parents bring it up every second visit and it's clear that mom wants to be involved, daily if we'll allow it.
"Once again, the path of joy was connection and the path of sorrow was separation. When we see others as separate, they become a threat. When we see others as a part of us, as connected, as interdependent, then there is no challenge we cannot face -- together" (p. 100).
I haven't yet put the "Script for Clearing the Air" into practice. When I wrote it, I saw my parents as a threat rather than as a part of me. It's a common feeling for those of us lucky enough to have living parents with whom our connection is still recalibrating.
Today, after reaching out to talk to my mother this weekend about her own mother's decline (they may have to move her into 24/7 care within the week), it feels more like we're on the same team. I can almost picture my parents attending our wedding one day.
Today the connection, which is not static but ever-changing, feels like enough.