Sep 27, 2020
I was on the phone with my oldest daughter on the evening of her birthday shortly after we had moved into a new (to us) home. It was a very exciting time. It’s a long story, but this was OUR home, as in, we now had our OWN mortgage. I have never been so happy about having a mortgage payment.
We were on speaker phone so that my husband could join the conversation. I was telling her that due to the move, as I unpacked, I had been carefully going through every box with a keen eye. I was trying to declutter and donate as much as possible.
She was on the declutter train herself and mentioned how many shirts her boyfriend has that he doesn’t wear. I walked to my husband’s closet and scanned his shirts. “Your Dad is the same way!”, I exclaimed looking at all of the shirts I was sure he doesn’t wear.
I turned to him, “Like this Hawaiian one, You never wear it!”
His reply shocked me. “I wear it every Thursday. Thursday is Hawaiian shirt day at the office.”
Over the next several weeks I noticed something peculiar.
He wears that Hawaiian shirt EVERY Thursday.
I began to consider that there were many things I thought I knew – but actually didn’t. Not in a negative beat-myself-up about it kind of way, just in a curious, even humble kind of way.
Man, was it freeing. I didn’t have to be right about everything. Before I became defensive about things, I could pause for just a second and consider the possibility that there was something there that I wasn’t seeing.
The poet John Keats coined a term he called negative capability. It’s “the ability to endure and even embrace mysteries and uncertainties”. It requires a humility regarding knowledge, a letting go of our egos in order to just see what is happening. It is a temporary suspension of judgment.
What might this look like in Caregiving?
Maybe you could listen to Dad’s opinions for an underlying message. Maybe Mom is well enough to do her own laundry. Maybe your brother really can’t help out more right now. Maybe it is time to determine Power Of Attorney. And so on and so on.
Because how often do we think we know what’s going on, and we actually don’t?
Probably at least every Thursday.
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