Courage at Twilight: The Power of Hot Cross Buns

I bought a wheelchair. Sarah found it on a local classified service: 20 inches wide, three-inch memory foam seat cushion, like new, $200.  I wheeled around the house to see if it would work for Dad.  Weeks ago, the Mobility Plan vanished from the refrigerator door and from Dad’s end tables, and his mobility has fled with the plan.  At least Mom and Dad did not contract Covid-19: my week’s utter isolation worked.  I often lose weight when I am sick, but cooped up with Covid I ate compulsively, not junk, mostly, except for pounds of my favorite chocolate almond candies, and my tummy has rounded and my abs slacked—it seems Covid sapped my physical as well as my emotional strength.  But that strength is returning, and with it some discipline, and my stevia-sweetened herbal tea for breakfast and my 16-8 intermittent fasts and my planks and pushups and lunges and stationary bike.  While I languished, five men fixed the brick mailbox pedestal, with new rebar and cement, repaired sprinkler pipe, new sod, the rotten rusted mailbox chiseled out and replaced, and a new filial point on the capstone.  They kept coming, day after day, to see to the details—they chose to leave their families and hobbies and entertainments and pleasures and labors and worries, to help us.  An ennobling choice.  Steven and I have contemplated together the nature and effect of life’s experience, for who does not wonder about this life?  Humans encounter and interact with reality through five physical senses, their electrical impulses interpreted by our brains.  Add to those senses instinct, intuition, conscience, spirituality, and love.  Our brains interpret every moment of contact with temporal reality, and I call this Experience.  But experience is a mere catalyst, vehicle, method for something far greater: Becoming.  We become through experience and choice and consequence.  I feel hunger pangs, and I choose to eat, and I enjoy the consequence—each food choice leads to my physical and mental becoming.  I feel anger after injury, and I choose to forgive, and I enjoy the consequence—each letting-go allows freedom from hatred and angst and bitterness, and contributes to my emotional and spiritual becoming.  Irrespective of religion or morality or belief, life’s great paradigm is experience leading to choice leading to becoming.  What will I choose to become?  Steven likens becoming to learning to play the piano.  We work and work over days and weeks to master a new piece of music, like Hot Cross Buns.  To our surprise and delight, the day comes when we have mastered the piece.  And at that moment, our Teacher turns the page and invites, “Wonderful!  Now learn The Muffin Man.”  And we can’t do it—we just can’t.  We don’t know it.  But we set to, and we struggle with one note after the other until, hours and days later, we have miraculously mastered the song.  Then Teacher turns the page again, and again, and again.  Becoming is effort, often painful grinding struggling effort.  Becoming takes courage and vulnerability.  Becoming involves more failure than success.  But we cannot avoid it: we are becoming something, because we have experience, and confronting experience, we cannot resist choice, and choice creates.  So, who will I choose to become?  Sitting at the kitchen table, Dad taught me that life’s greatest gift is the ability of self-sight, to see oneself and to choose to change based on what we see: I cannot become what I want to become if I cannot see who I am.  And sitting at the kitchen table, we exclaimed at the exquisite beauty of the Black-chinned Hummingbird sitting at the red-sugar feeder, fluorescent and alive.

Pictured above: not an old car muffler, but Mom’s and Dad’s mailbox after it was chiseled out from its mortar-sealed brick pedestal.

Pictured below: Dad’s “new” wheelchair.  I’ll let you know when he uses it, but don’t hold your breath.

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