"It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubborness of the inorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed." - Albert Einstein

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I aspire to a stubbornly incorrigible nonconformity. The degree to which I have achieved my aspiration I leave in the capable hands of those whose wisdom and humilty exceed my own.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Remember To Live

Saturday August 4, 2012 was a special day for our family. Alice, Becca, and I all got tattoos of the same phrase,"Ricordati Di Vivere," which is Italian for "Remember To Live." we all got the tattoo on different parts of our bodies. I got mine on my right forearm.

This was all initiated by Becca. Becca told me that she chose this phrase after looking for something suitable on the Internet. Becca said that she had been thinking of "Remember To Breathe" because Alice and Becca both periodically remind me to breathe. Then she came up with "Remember To Live." Becca was insistent that the phrase be tattooed in my handwriting so that she would always have a part of me with her.

I like to believe that I had at least a small part in the choice of phrase. Becca and I have had conversations about deeper and more spiritual issues over the last few months. We have had several conversations with me defending my desire to stay involved and active in my different things like Toastmasters or church committees even when I am not feeling so well. I have often said that I don't want to get to the end of my life and find out I haven't lived. What I mean is that I don't want to give up things that give my life meaning and purpose.

So much has been taken from me including, and especially, my own free will in so many decisions. I have lost my career as a social worker, which also means I lost my identity as a professional who was respected; I have lost the ability to eat or drink though I sometimes indulge myself with coffee; I have lost my ability to tell stories, at least the oral tradition of telling stories; I have lost the ability to speak forcefully and clearly; I even lost the ability to play golf. I really don't want to surrender my involvement and engagement with the different activities that make my life worth living.

Alice and Becca are quick to remind me that I am not going through this alone - every time I have to be hospitalized they have to go through it too. I am sensitive to that and I don't know how to resolve this dynamic tension. I don't think that I can satisfy my need for a meaningful and rich life with their desire to keep me safe and healthy.

But when I can stop and think, without all of the anger I have, without all of my anger and frustration at the unfairness of it all I can see that the only time I have is now and that it will be what it will be. I may intellectually understand and agree with that but I have not fully integrated that knowledge into my life and practice.

Just today for example my doctor put me back on antibiotics for yet another pneumonia and advised me not to participate in my Toastmasters meetings tonight and tomorrow morning or my committee meetings tomorrow. I came home with a lot of frustration and anger. My Buddhist teacher has given me a simple exercise to deal with my anger and when I tried it today it worked, for a while anyway, until I started thinking again. It's always that thinking that gets me. 

At least now I have a permanent and unmistakable reminder on my right forearm, remember to live. 


Sarajoy said...

This is really amazing. I LOVE your tattoo and that you're family got it too. I "enjoy" Your honesty in dealing with your spiritual practice and your family's struggle. Thanks for sharing this with all of us too.

Petrouschka said...

You're lucky to have so many caring people around you. I love the idea of the tattoo. United forever...