Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Life with Pi

I've known for some time that my writing needs to become more regular, so without further ado (or apologies), let me begin. Again.

The other day, my daughter and I went to see the movie, "Life of Pi." I saw the symbolism - the entire movie consisted of it - but on this one rare occasion, I wanted to verify with my daughter that I'd seen the message, because I'd not heard one of the final lines in the movie. Once she told me what the line was, it all fell into place for me and I said "Oh!  So it's a parable about parables."  My daughter, who has her M.S. in English - thought for a moment and said, "I really like that explanation." 

The story I am about to share is the reason I had to ask her in the first place.  

It was 1984.  My husband was going to grad school at KSU in Manhattan, KS, and we were renting a house in an older part of town.  Our neighbors across the street were a married couple a few years older than us; Gina was from Ohio and Utsab was from India, they had met while attending grad school at Ohio State University. To this day, I believe there were more connections between us all than we ever had time to discover.

Utsab was a great joker, whose delivery was very dry. I got to be pretty good at knowing when he was trying to put one over on me! He was also a huge OSU fan, to this day the house is still gray with red trim, the school colors! Gina was working towards her PhD in Philosophy and teaching a few classes at KSU. In July of 1985, they brought their son Simon home from the hospital the day I found out I was pregnant with our daughter - Gina and I had gone to the same Obstetricians. I loved our neighbors, and everybody else did too - I think Utsab was the start of my fascination with the East Indian culture.

Gina had this gift - when you were talking with her, she turned you into (and tuned in TO you) the single most fascinating person in the entire world, and she couldn't stop asking you about yourself and listening to what you had to say. I got the biggest kick out of watching her her do this with my husband.  I don't think I've ever known anyone else quite like her.  Together, they were one of the more unique couples I've known.

My husband completed his studies, and in 1987, his first job took us to South Dakota. We kept in touch sporadically, and heard a few years later that Gina had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She was successfully treated and cancer free for several years. Then at some point in the late 90's, it came back in different areas of her body.  She seemed to be taking the treatments well, and we would hear from them or connect with them every so often - at this point, we had just moved back to Kansas City from Wisconsin - we didn't touch base with them very often due to the distance, and long distance telephone in those days was still quite expensive. 

In May of 2002, our family went on a trip out to Hays, KS.  It had been close to a year since we'd heard anything from our friends, so on the way back to Kansas City, we decided to stop by and say hi.  The kids and I stayed in the car while my husband went up to the house and knocked on the door.  After a few minutes, he came back with a strange look on his face - he'd talked to Utsab but found out that Gina had passed away barely a month prior - we were as shocked as Utsab was crushed.

A few years after this, I will never forget - I had a dream about her one night, and she was holding an infant.  Since that time (in the past couple of years) I've had at least two more dreams that she is featured in - Utsab was in one of them also, they were living across the street, just as before - and always a baby figures in them.  She is so real in these dreams - and it's only now, as I'm typing this that I realize how emotional I get talking about my friend Gina.  She is one of those people in my life that I dearly loved, and deeply miss to this day.

So what does this story have to do with watching the movie "Life of Pi?" It's like this.  Irrfan Khan, the actor who portrays the older Pi looks and sounds exactly like my friend Utsab...and that brought the memories of him and Gina rushing back to me.  Herein lies the reason for my distraction, because I could not get over how much it was like looking at my friend on the big screen! I'm quite sure it doesn't do that for everyone, but maybe the movie was my trigger for thinking about my friends again, and revisiting all that they meant to me.

I do know that I'm such a wuss when it comes to movies like this - I have a very hard time watching all the dramatic parts and watching the animals suffer hardships (even though I know it wasn't real).  I actually bought the book from a thrift shop for 50 cents this last summer. I tried to start reading it and couldn't get past the first dozen pages.  So I re-donated it to the library.

I am an avid reader, and a true believer that "everything happens for a reason." Perhaps I wasn't meant to read the book, because it would not have elicited the same memories or response in me (as the movie did) about Gina and Utsab? I'm going with that, and I think this is one of those movies that every person who sees it may well have a different experience - I can only tell you that I'm incredibly grateful for my own.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spiritual Impatience

At a point in my past, I talked to a therapist.  And though the appointments came to an end, one topic of discussion that was raised in the final session has always stuck in my mind.

The therapist said to me, "I have a question for you, and let me give you an example of what I'm asking.  For instance, when I'm watching basketball, you don't interrupt me - for anything.  That's my rule."  He went on to list some other examples, and brought up ones from some of my other family members who'd also seen him.  Then he refocuses, turns to me, and says "What are some of yours?  What are Sandy's rules?"  I thought for a few seconds, and almost immediately said "don't harm my children - don't 'come after' my family," going into "Mama Bear" mode.  He said  "No, those are rules for not hurting those you love, that's not what I'm asking.  What I want to know, are Sandy's rules - something that people know is unmovable about you - something you have in place that those people you know can't go around or over - like fences.

It may sound odd, but I couldn't come up with a thing.  From time to time over the ensuing years, I've revisited that question in my mind - "checking" to see if I'd developed any rules.  Each time I would search inside myself  in vain, trying to find one single solitary thing that could be a rule.  I had just about come to the conclusion that I had none - which makes me sound like a pushover and 20 different kinds of weak and wimpy all mixed up together.  But I'm equally (if not more) certain that anyone who knows me doesn't see me that way at all.  I'm tall, I'm an extrovert, I'm social...and though I love helping people, especially those I've be-friended, I have an inherent natural hierarchy.  It used to go:  my family, then me.  Then as the kids got older, I was able to see things differently and it became mostly me, with my family coming a close 2nd.  Then I do things for friends - IF they ask and IF I have the time and feel like I can make myself available.

As time went on, the "me and my family" part no longer required the upkeep it once did.  I found myself being able to go outside that family circle more often, helping friends.  And I'm making some wonderful connections these days, both in person and on facebook.  It is allowing my heart to expand more and more to connect and to "be there" for friends.  I'm loving the things I'm learning these days, and have always enjoyed Sharing My Passion about those things - to those who are interested.  For several years in a row now, I've become increasingly adept at saying the most appropriate thing when someone has an issue that they share with me.  It's a lovely feeling when I can assist in removing the drama from their situation by giving them an analogy or story to make them see their situation in a different light - because so often, that's all any of us need - a different viewpoint.  Through all of this insight, still no rules to be found...

And so today, I thought I'd discovered one.  An actual Rule!  I wanted to be there for a friend, and in my opinion, too many days had gone by without contact.  Have I mentioned that sometimes Spiritual Impatience gets the best of me?  Therefore, my rule was looking like this:  "Don't make me wait too long if you want me to be there for you."  "I can feel used too," and a number of other sayings I'd rather work on letting go of.  Because the real question here for me is this:  Did anyone ask you to wait because they were seeking your advice?  The answer is no - I'm the one who put that whole mindset into my brain.

As a result of that epiphany, I feel the need to practice more Spiritual Patience, get on with my own day to day life, and TRUST that when I am needed, I will be there.  No one's life needs to get put on hold.  If you truly believe that time is non-linear -  something we created (because we are SO good at that!) - to help us in our lives on this earth, then you will know that there is no past or future, only the Now - and none of us will miss being wherever it is most appropriate for us to be.  Here's to Love & Trust!

Monday, January 16, 2012


It's official - there is no where to go but forward, and so I begin again.  And at the risk of being late to the 2012 trough, there really IS no the NOW to do it in!  So I offer to you my mental musings of all things Nature-al and Spiritual, in the hopes that a harmonious chord will sound for you, and perhaps propel you further onward and upward in your own spiritual quest and connections.

For many years I've described my thinking brain as the proverbial mental Pinball Game - every time the flipper hits the ball, I am off on another subject.  Allow me, please, to relay the following story in the hopes that this may assist you in following and reading my writing...

     Many years ago, I was friends with a woman whose daughter was diagnosed ADD.  I not only have a son with it, but I was also given the same label (Hey - you use what works for when you need it!).  One time I was over at Mary's house one evening while her sister from out of state was visiting.  We chatted for about an hour, then I left.  A few days later, after her sister had gone home, we got together and she shared her sister's reaction to our conversation.  Mary told me that after I left, her sister turns to her and says, "Oh my GOD, Mary - how can you stand listening to her?  She talked about so many things - I was lost!"  Mary looks at her sister, and says, "You just have to know how Sandy talks - She'll bring up one thing, talk for a bit - then a 2nd topic, and so on - but if you listen, you will find that eventually she goes back...and finishes up that 1st thing, then completes the 2nd topic - until all those stories have an ending!"

     My friend moved away quite a number of years ago, and like many things, the communication between us dwindled and has stopped.  However, I will never forget the lovely, positive example she gave me to keep - forever and ever - that made me feel like maybe I had a special quality instead of a "special need".

So if you read my musings, you will find a mish-mash when it comes to subject matter - always at an esoteric level, but with humor, more often than not - but if you'll give me that "chance", I'll always come back to finish up my story...and don't be afraid to ask me if you don't see it!