The last post on aging parents garnered more comments than any other in the history of this blog, so clearly this is a topic that touches many people. The experiences people have range from the touching and poignant (“Do you know who I am, Mom?” “Yes, you’re my baby”) to the heartbreaking (the father whose dying words were obscenities). As I said in my last comment to the previous post, “These posts explore the pain that is at the very center of what love is, and what life is.”
The cultural context for our Western way of dealing (or not … Read More
A woman in her fifties recently told me about a dream she had had. In the dream she was at a party and saw a tall, attractive man in his early thirties standing alone with a drink in his hand. The woman went over to talk to the man; in the dream she was young again and single, and this situation meant a possible romantic opportunity. With a winning smile, she tried to engage the man in conversation, only to find that his gaze had alighted elsewhere, and with a curt nod and a polite smile, the man excused himself … Read More
As readers may be discovering, I like cinema moments as teaching tools. The one I am thinking of today is in The Untouchables, starring Kevin Costner and Sean Connery. In one tense scene, federal agents, together with a grizzled veteran Chicago cop (played by Sean Connery) are waiting in an isolated cabin for a convoy of Al Capone’s bootlegger henchmen to cross the Canadian border. The two federal agents are nervously checking and rechecking their weapons. Sean Connery watches them… Read More
“I want more”–this is the universal principle of a society built around consumer spending. And it is, by extension, the cry of all those who want more youth, through all the consumer products and services that we think can make us look, feel or be younger. The Buddhist world view responds, “Relax. It’s all right. You have enough.” But we don’t believe it.
I am thinking of three moments in literature, cinema, and television that all have a character saying, essentially, “I want more.” The first is from the Humphrey Bogart movie Key Largo, where Bogie is up against … Read More
The baby boomer generation has been criticized for making every stage of life—whether it be adolescence, college, child-rearing, and now their aging—into a self-referential adventure of transformation and improvement. From that point of view the notion of “Aging as a Spiritual Practice” could be seen as just the latest of these baby boomer projects: “We’re going to do aging differently and better than anyone!” Some commentators have concluded that the baby boomers were a coddled, spoiled generation. To them, the bumper sticker “Life is hard and then you die” is more how things actually are.
Needless to say, I see … Read More
We all worry. That is our human condition. Without our exceptional ability to think about a future problem, and come up with ways to deal with it or resolve it, we would not have survived the evolutionary process. And worry is a kind of affliction too, an unpleasant or unwholesome state of mind. Many of us may seek out the Buddhist tradition or meditation because we think it can offer us a method for attaining a state of mind where there is no worry. We are all finding out that Buddhism does not offer that; as a matter of fact, … Read More