Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Three Story Life: Navigation

Yesterday Dad yelled down the stairs. "I'm going out to scrape my car." Okay, I thought. What's that about? He was leaving for the dentist in half an hour. Practicing observe and let it go, I took note and moved on to other tasks. A thought drifted into focus. Maybe this reportage is about bearings. I fell a couple weeks ago. Afterward my left brain got caught up in analyzing what happened. It was a new surprising event and I mentally gnawed on it to get its flavor. I lost my bearings. Spinning out, my father calls it. What Dad was doing when he gave me his location was using me like a star in a sea of change. At first it seemed I was a sextant, but that's a tool - there are still x and y points to locate in order to use a tool for navigation. We have physical locomotion needs: how far away is the ground? How close that step? And we have psychological placement needs. Establishing behaviors that define our physiologic borders. Scott has lost sense of where his body ends and the rest of the world starts. We don't know how he feels about this. Dad knows how it feels, and although he cannot communicate it any more than Scott can, he sets his internal sextant to coordinate the points he can recognize. If I know where he is, then he feels less at sea. I become either a point on the horizon or the north star. It's an awesome role, and I will respect the assignment with humility and reverence, and think of it as an opportunity for growth. And this awareness is a marker to watch for this in other seniors, and hopefully, to remember to use it myself.

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