Thursday, March 10, 2011


"Who can hope to be safe? Who sufficiently cautious? Guard himself as he may, every moment's an ambush." - Horace

The Ambush - Albert Bierstadt, Oil on canvas, 1876 

Whooeey. Horace got that right. Every moment's an ambush.

I was ambushed yesterday. Wow, it took me by surprise, this wave of frustration and helplessness and futility at the circumstances surrounding me lately. It came out of nowhere and knocked the breath right out of me.

I've done lots of work in the last year or so on my practice of meditation, and thought I had come a long way in learning to separate myself from certain emotions. I've learned to acknowledge them, release them, and move back to a position of neutrality or 'emptiness'. It's been very healthy and healing for me.

Imagine my shock, then, at the surprise attack of...well, wrath that overtook me yesterday.  THIS IS SO UNFAIR!  

I was nothing short of "Sybil" yesterday, exhibiting extremely different personalities with each person I encountered.

I was a kind and Sympathetic Clara Barton Yia-Yia to my sick Little Beauty as she endured several more bouts with "Ivan the Terrible and his Tummy Rumblers" (story to follow some day with illustrations by his victim). I wiped her brow and stroked her soft golden hair, and offered an occasional cracker with her cartoons.

I was an Engaged Yia-Yia to the Little Scholar, who is gamely spending his cycle break from school in quarantine with the rest of the household in an attempt to squelch an epidemic. [Cycle break is the term for the 3-week break in between each 9-week cycle of classes for his year-round school. This break has been honed down to two weeks in order to make up for all the snow days this year.] I admired his lego creations, read Hardy Boys with him, and fixed him cookies and milk. Yay, me.

I was the Overworked Housewench, still trying to seek out and destroy any lurking virus in our midst. I actually even tried to 'get into the head' of Ivan the Terrible to imagine where he might be, waiting to ambush his next victim. (After all, this is the menace keeping me from being at my own mother's side right now...he must be vanquished so that I can be with her.) Goodness, it really is getting ridiculously obssessive...chapped hands, the ever present smell of bleach, and piles of sanitized and neatlyfolded laundry everywhere. Wait...did I clean that closet doorknob yet?

I was the Wise Mother of Adults, having very grown up conversations about work and world situations with The Scholar and his older brother, the Young Titan of Business. 

I was doing okay. I thought.

Suddenly out of nowhere, Sybil, the Indignant and Angry Sister, appeared and ambushed me. She was followed closely by a rogue's gallery of miscreants, including the Sorrowfully Misunderstood Sybil, who soon morphed into the Distraught,Weepy, Needy Wife personality during a phone conversation with her on-a-business-trip husband, and finally, the I'll Think of This Tomorrow Scarlett O'Hara Sybil.  

Yikes. It's exhausting being Sybil.

I guess we're all exhausted, needing a break that no one can take and answers that no one can find. I'll try hard to remember that.

I'll get back to my meditation and try to double the dosage during this rainy season. I guess I have more negativity to release than I realized. I'll try to remember to breathe deeply. I'll be more gentle with myself and with others who have no more control over the situation than I. I hope.

Most of all, I'll remember that every moment's an ambush. Anything can happen to any one of us at any moment in time. I will appreciate this moment. I will. 

I hope you live each moment today with intent.

I usually try to find music that will comfort, soothe, or entertain, but not today. Noooo, today requires the firey tempestuous mood of yesterday. That mood can only be explained by Verdi's "Requiem: Dies Irae" (meaning "Day of Wrath"). It's really all about the day of reckoning, but has all the feel of being ambushed and the feeling of wrath that accompanies it. I won't say, "enjoy" as I usally do, but maybe "Appreciate" instead.

This is one of the finest interpretations I've ever heard. Claudio Abbado conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 2002 in this very small but profound snippet from the Requiem.


  1. Yeah, spiralling up to the next level of work is always a shock. They call meditation a "practice" for a reason! In terms of being human, practice never, not ever, makes perfect. But it's a tool.

    Considering what you're now enduring, I'm impressed you didn't take a shotgun down to the post office.

  2. It's my understanding that a heavy dose of vitamin D fixes everything. Maybe it was Bourbon. Anyway, Sybil, I hope you and your family are back on your feet soon, and you return to your sweet, gentle one-personality-at-a-time self.

  3. Jo, it is completely understandable that you are feeling overwhelmed under the circumstances. I hope that Ivan soon surrenders so you can be with your Mom. I'm sorry to hear that her health is declining and there are other health issues with your loved ones.

    Scarlett also said: "After all, tomorrow is another day!" Wishing more peacful tomorrows for you. Kathy Goddard

  4. Reya, please don't give me any ideas right now. ;-)

    Yes, the 'practice' has to kick it up a notch, for sure. I'm on it.

    Thank you!

  5. may be exactly right. I ran out of my calcium/Vitamin D supplement last week and haven't had a chance to get more. Coincidentally, I'm out of bourbon, too!

    That explains so much.

    Thanks for stopping by and giving me a smile today. You're the best.

  6. Hi Kathy! Yes, tomorrow is another day!

    I'm cautiously optimistic far, so good. We're moving up to bananas and milk for lunch. Fingers crossed that Ivan has left the house!

    Thanks for your visit, Kathy. Love it when you stop by.

  7. Let me send my complete support to you, loving caregiver. I have had to make the decision of which family member to attend to and it was a difficult one at the time as I remember. The important and loving acts that you are performing are heroic in my eyes. Our Sybils do emerge and show their sides because we are human and therefore flawed. Kelli

  8. To me, the passion of Jo needed to come out. You are always soooo good so it's your time to get all of the negative energy out. You are only human.

    Hope today is better and love and peace to you!!!

    The music goes perfectly with your day as told so appropriately.

  9. Thank you for sending your support, Kelli. It'especially nice to receive it from someone who's been there and knows how hard this is.

    Hey, Sybil happens, right? ;-)

    Thanks again for stopping by to make me feel better.


  10. Thanks so much, Vicki...I'm really glad you liked the music. I think I listened to it a hundred times before posting it!

    Today IS a bit better. The patient is holding her own, and here it is, 3 p.m. and we have had NO 'episodes' today! Woot! Stay away, Ivan!

    much love,

  11. Oh boy, did this speak to me today. I've never thought about it in terms of being ambushed, but you are exactly right. I am feeling overwhelmed with caring for my dear one, watching out for my 80-something parents, keeping the house and working full time. I can go for quite some time in a state of equilibrium and then WHAM I am down and out, in a puddle of tears, shut away in the bathroom until it passes. I haven't done any meditation for quite some time, but oddly must this morning was talking the my husband's doctor about his learning to meditate as an aid to lowering the blood pressure. I guess I should go too.

  12. Oh, dear, Pondie. I'm sorry you're having the same sort of problem. I guess it's part of being in the "Sandwich Generation" isn't it?

    You describe the feelings perfectly. Yep. You've been there.

    I'd say there are no coincidences, and that you saw the mention of meditation and had the conversation about meditation for a reason that has little to do with your husband.

    As Reya points out, it's important to spiral up to the next level. We'll do it together, okay?

    Stay in touch...and thanks for the visit today.

  13. Jo, You've been breathing in too much bleach!! You are missing your fresh air and constitutionals. The night is always darkest before the dawn. Stretch your limbs out and breathe into the stretches. Relax. You CANNOT do better than your best and sometimes there are just TOO MANY needy relatives. Don't put extra pressure on yourself, that the ambush was your fault because you didn't meditate enough.
    Mostly........ be kind to "Jo". She is a very sweet, talented lady with a smiling heart and you need to be gentle with her. Sending peace, love and prayers. xoxo

  14. Oh, Linda. This comment sent me over the edge, laughing and crying at the same time.

    You are absolutely right...too much bleach! And your advice ALL resonates with me so well.

    This is EXACTLY what I needed to read before turning in tonight. You are an angel. Thank you from the bottom of my smiling heart. ♥


Your visit makes my heart smile. Thank you.