I have been laid up now for what has felt like an eternity. From my vantage point, I have watched those around me perform—at times—the most grueling, sleep-depriving, complicated care-taking choreography. Among moments of levity, helping me get through this particular knee surgery has been messy, painful, erratic, surprising, off-schedule, and especially inconvenient. Caring for another life on this planet—loving them, looking after them, being there for them—it can be incredibly, and exhaustively, inconvenient.
Whether you are the proud parent of human off-spring, little four-legged animal varieties, or have those in your family or friendship steed for whom you feel responsible or protective, taking care of somebody else can be the ultimate challenge if you do not have pure love—for the job, if you are in a health profession, or for the person, if you are a volunteer—as your instigating factor for being a caretaker. The day after I had returned home from the hospital with a new knee, I had dissolved into the couch in a heap of overwhelming pain, total discomfort, a waterfall of drowning tears, and my mother—one of the most innately nurturing souls I have ever known—just packed me in ice as if I was a rainbow trout on display in a fish market, forced a Tylenol past my lips for the fever, and then, without saying a word, put her big cool Mama-hand on my forehead until I fell asleep. That was pure love in action.
I’ve had friends cancel their date night because their children tearfully refused to stay home with a sitter. I’ve witnessed a good friend re-arrange her entire social calendar for a month because her adorable dog had to go through medical treatments, and couldn’t socialize with other dogs until it was completed. We have all seen harried mothers traveling with infants, dog owners cleaning up after their pups on the city streets. Perhaps we have all run errands for our grandparents, or elderly neighbors, so that they could have everything that they needed, including peace of mind. We do these things for those that we love. We interrupt our own lives and agendas for those about whom we care deeply. We do this because, ultimately, our life experience is about connection. It is about relationship. And when we loosen up our grip on our own agenda, when we let go of our vice grip on the self-imposed timeline in our minds, or on our calendars, we allow ourselves opportunity for moments of organic surprise, hilarity, delight, spontaneous singing, dancing, ice baths, food fights, or just connection on a new and profound level.
If we allow our actions to be inspired by the love we feel for those in our lives, for those around us, then we put the focus where it can change our entire perception, and thus our entire experience. Love-inspired action focuses on the link between beings, not on the adherence to a specific timeline or social construct, and therefore, reinforces the fact that life is about the journey—the moments of connection, impact, relationship—on the way to our desired destination. And if we can remember that, then all of the inevitable ‘inconveniences’ of parenthood, childhood, pets and loved ones, become opportunities for bonding, depth, revelation, hilarity, unforgettable laughter, unparalleled mess, poignant information or simple, profound time spent together.
And that is always always worth it.
Polo REO Tate was born in Lansing, Michigan, where her family has deep ties to the community. Her Great Great Grandfather was Ransom Eli Olds (R.E. Olds), a pioneer and prolific inventor most notably responsible for inventing the first internal combustion automobile—the Oldsmobile. Growing up, [...]