Friday, June 25, 2010

Lowering the Bar

I have been going enough times now, to Zen Hospice, to notice a trend. I come out of my days there, in a markedly improved mental state compared to how I felt when I went in. Other volunteers report a similar experience. We are also all feeling an overall change for the better in terms of the way we deal with life in general. 

This may seem kind of strange, and definitely at odds with the public perception of work with the dying. The "How do you do it?" type of reaction.

What has been happening is a mental shift, realizing that I can take nothing, absolutely nothing for granted. As in the fact that I am able to type these words on the keyboard right now, and see the letters dancing on the screen, and smell the incense burning on my desk, and not feel pain in my body, and enjoy the full capacity of my mind, and not being tired, and being able to sit up straight, and not having to wear a diaper, and being able to breathe freely, and knowing that I can get up if I want to, and that I don' have to rely on others for the littlest things . . . 

I call it lowering the bar of my expectations, to almost nil. A dramatic overturn of the way I used to be before the dying taught me. A lesson I had read many times before, in the books, but never quite got. 


  1. Marguerite - just wonderful. It's really a true understanding of not taking anything for granted, correct? Seems like such a cliche term, but to truly grasp this is so important. It's truly a miracle that we're all here and why would we not revel and bask in the miracle that is life?

  2. Such a great lesson, and wonderfully shared. Thank you Margeurite.

  3. Thank you Nate, thank you Ian. I am so glad you appreciate this, as it is one of greatest lessons I have learned.

    With much metta to you both.

  4. Drop expectations! I love it.

  5. You know I heard this once, dissatisfaction is simply life not measuring up to your (or mine) expectations. A situation that really steams you up is simply a case of you (or me) not accepting the way it is. Your partner making you angry is just a case of you not being able to accept how your partner IS because you have a different expectation - is another way to put it. Thank you for this and your many other pearls of wisdom Marguerite.