Simone Biles tells the world that her brain has temporarily disconnected from her body and she can’t go flying and flipping in the air without risking breaking her neck and people are criticizing her? Without looking, I’m betting the most vehement critics are men who played high school football while they had the flu, goshdarnit. And they remember those glory days, puking on the sidelines, and then looking up at mom in the bleachers to give her a big thumbs up. They played through it all, why can’t Simone? You gotta love guys who spout off about mental toughness twenty years after they did their last brave thing.
It hasn’t been confirmed but there is a rumor that there may be two Miltons. Milton (or Miltons) has been very present of late, regularly sitting in the yard under the bird feeder or on the grass near the curb. Sometimes, he (they) hops across the street to the rabbi’s house. This makes me very nervous until my husband says again, “I will never let anything happen to Milton!” Sometimes, I sit on the porch steps and sweet talk Milton. He stands still, his black rabbit eye unblinking. If there are two Miltons, they seem to be identical.
We held a board meeting in the parking lot and it was great. After fifteen months of Zoom meetings, our Street Angels board was glad to be in person even if it meant sitting in borrowed and somewhat crummy white plastic chairs that had to be unloaded from the back of my truck. While we were discussing fundraising and opening a winter warming room for homeless folks, someone a few blocks away was shooting off fireworks and every now and then a police siren screamed down the avenue. But it didn’t rain and it wasn’t terribly hot and the chairs held until we were done or nearly done. Blessedly, it was just at the very end of the meeting that my cochlear implant receiver beeped, signaling the end of the battery’s charge. “We have to wrap up. I’m about to go completely deaf.” I am glad to no longer be embarrassed when things like this happen.
There is beauty in duty and obligation. When I asked a friend if taking care of her husband with dementia was a burden, she responded by saying, “Yes, it is, but I took a vow.” And there was no ruing, no wriggling, no wishing things were different. No lament. She was just dealing with the truth in front of her at that very moment. I loved that about her, maybe it’s stoicism, maybe it’s grace. I learned from that moment, from her, but I haven’t told her so. My sense is that she would be surprised.
Work is gold. I’ve often thought I want to be without work, to have vast stretches of time with no meetings or projects due. But I was wrong. A blank calendar makes me sad. The things on the horizon – the things I need to do – well, they’re like bread baking. The kneading, the rising, the baking, the aroma all through the house. I love that. I think that, even after all these years, I love work.