Caring for others without losing ourselves is a life-saving blessing
Did you ever find yourself randomly picking up a book only to discover it is exactly what you need to read? This happened recently when I discovered a little book entitled, “The War of Art,” by Steven Pressfield. Full disclosure – of late, life has gotten in the way of my writing. Perhaps nothing, not even working full-time as a singe parent, could have prepared me for the demands, spoken and unspoken, of aging parents. Unlike parenting my two now adult children into glorious independence, I found myself entwined in their descent into fear and dependence, and debilitated by a growing feeling of ego-driven resistance So what does this have to do with the book I just read? Everything!
Writing is a form of intercourse that requires a growth mindset. An act of love, it invites an on-going exploration of “the unlived life within us” (Pressfield). The enemy of creativity is a fixed mindset fueled by fear, self-doubt and criticism, which bully and deform the spirit. So, what does this have to do with caring for aging parents? Everything!
Caring for aging parents is a sacred act which requires that we show up daily, without letting our ego get in the way. By fueling ourselves instead with a sense of humor, an in-check ego, and a bit of detachment, we can sustain ourselves while continuing to care for those who knowingly or unknowingly might otherwise drain our souls to the point of depletion. What is the alternative? Allowing our ego to rule, fear and self-doubt become an enemy victorious in self-sabatoge. The cultivation of our ability for egoless sacred service to those in need invites self-validation. Moreover, it opens our very being to discover the infinite self within the finitude of biological life.
Both creativity and caring for those we love require a kind of fearlessness and, perhaps, even a contempt for failure. Both invite a personal evolution within the homeland of our soul. In this place, we bathe ourselves in timeless and spaceless light and love. In this place, pure consciousness of intellect and spirit merge as ONE – ECHAD. From this place, HAMAKOM, we find the strength to show up day after day, committed, resilient, self-validated and able to care for those we love without losing ourselves.
Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi, Community Rabbi
25 Tevet 5776/ 6 January 2016