Sunday, July 22, 2007

Breaking Obsessions and the Scent of Roses

I don't know if other families obsess about particular issues, but the three of us in our home have our pet preoccupations. And we bore each other, and others, with our hyper-interest on the topics.

So we've decided to call a truce. Ron, Andrea and I can and will talk freely about our obsessions in the normal course of conversation... but we each promise to be aware of how we bore others with it. And how we fail to notice the beauty of this wonderful life when we focus too intently on one tiny aspect of our existence.

My mania is politics. Since I write about it professionally, I must stay plugged in. And on many an evening, I rattle on and on ad naseum at the dinner table about Obama this and Hillary that. Or George Bush this and Dick Cheney that.

I care passionately about our great country, and this is my way if contributing to its welfare. But after a rant exceeds 10 minutes, their eyes glaze over. While I'm getting worked up, they're tuning out.

Ron's focus as a diabetic is his health. He takes five prescriptions daily, including a twice daily injection. And he must measure his blood sugar several times daily. Of course he focuses on his health. Disciplined focus is the key to his very survival.

But it's easy to succumb to a constant victim/patient mentality, and become over-absorbed by a chronic illness. It's easy for an illness to become an identity. And life is about more than keeping one's body alive and healthy.

Andrea is an exceptional high school student, and is being heavily recruited by many dozens of excellent universities. Unchecked, it's all she talks about. Not in an arrogant way... but in an exuberant way.

She's glimpsed the green, green pastures of college life, and she can already taste the heady freedom of dorm life without mom and dad. The vision is pure nirvana for any sixteen year old. But she talks about college choices constantly.
At dusk yesterday, she joined me outside as I was watering my roses and herb plants. And she started in on Cal Tech this and Yale that.

Running hose in hand, I turned and asked if we could talk about something else. That lately, college is the only subject we ever talk about, and I'd love to know about books, movies, music , friends she cares about. Anything but college all the time...

Puzzled, she shrugged and went inside.

I continued to water roses. Yellow, peach, whisper pink and crimson roses. And I stopped, for once, and smelled the roses...

And the scent was lovelier than I remembered.

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