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“Whap! Whap! Whap!” Punch’s painted grin and wild-eyes gave him a demonic look as he smacked a stick across the head of his wife Judy, in retaliation for her nasties. Titters erupted from the audience as we approached the stage. I cringed, tucking my scarf and mittens in the pocket of my coat, then took a seat with others for the puppet show.

It was Mother’s annual Christmas treat, followed by a savory lunch in the Missouri Room at Stix Baer Fuller Department Store. Before the streetcar ride home, we would also view the animated Christmas windows, filled with Santa’s elves and workshop, while icy drafts cut my cheeks and blurred my vision.

As a child, such noisy and exhausting outings scrambled my sensibilities. Yet, I went along; it was expected of me. I had no voice, other than what the puppeteer voiced through me, and that, for much of my life. Like Punch and Judy and their entourage, I fashioned my life in pretense. Few seemed to notice or care.

After years of 12-Step recovery and dream work, I discovered my latent voice and began expressing it in speech and in writing, new words surfacing whenever I needed them. Clarity replaced brain fog and indecision. But old habits are deeply ingrained, and the puppeteer still seduces me within anger’s grip.

More than ever, I cry, “Mercy!”

Fixated upon the pause mode, I squirm like a hapless insect caught within a spider’s web. Time gorges my days, swallowed whole: such teeter upon psychic indigestion, mess with routines of self-care, and plunge me into tomorrows when I’m not ready to go there. My controller still wants to call the shots, despite my practice of Step II, like spidery webs torn asunder by wintry winds.

Yet, like the insect, I remain dazed, powerless to change my present circumstance: I do have ILD with rheumatoid arthritis, a terminal disease that is shortening my life. But how? When? The dailyness of my symptoms renders me half-sick: weak, short of breath, and exhausted. Other annoyances, as well, irk me: Expelling infected mucus from my lungs eats into my afternoons; occasional brain fog scrambles for the next right word, both when speaking and blogging. Even my Dreamer seems to have dumped me.

Then, I remind myself that it’s not as if I’m preparing for an ice cream social.

I still benefit from the gift of time: Its windows correct bouts of impatience, with their disruptive playing cards, and enhance spiritual growth. That, alone, remains important. A second study of The Grace in Dying – How We Transform Spiritually as We Die awaits me; its dense material necessitates a calm mind and an open heart, deeper this time around.

Yet, I have come a long way since last November’s signing on for hospice’s palliative care. This is working out—my heartfelt thanks for coming along.

 

A new day

 

 

 

In my perception, Bong Joon Ho, the Korean director of the film Parasite, has crazed a global nerve still vibrating from its four Oscars awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Such films carry the wallop of myth, in former times, a spiritual force that corrected, educated, and inspired its listeners. Its title, Parasite, images the disgusting organism, secretive, invasive, even deadly, that lives in or on an organism of a different species. Often the host’s infestation remains undetected and mimics other diseases that complicate diagnoses and treatment.

The film Parasite presents the wealthy sophisticated Kim family and the scrounging Parks, both engaged in class warfare and seeking an elusive material security that pits them against each other. The parasitic infection is mounted through the cunning of Kee-Woo, the Parks’ teenage son and the story takes off from there. Beneath its surface, however, lurks an ominous tone that discomfits both families as well as the viewers. Something very dark lies ahead.

Although the film story runs two hours and twelve minutes, it plays into a much longer one in our psyches, one that unbeknownst to us, may have been running for decades—Thus, our parasite. Whatever our circumstances, material security has become the god of our consumer society, and greed, like the parasite, fuels this self centered pursuit.

How ferret out this disease that kills spirit? How do with less? How share with others without being condescending? When is enough, enough?

I continue learning …

 

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