As a sandwich generation man, I juggle competing priorities and events constantly. Usually, I am cognizant that this is actually a sign of good fortune. Sometimes it is easy to forget this, however. Then you forget for a couple of weeks in a row and start to long for a simpler existence. What if I could plan less? What if I could just work as long as I wanted and finally conquer my to-do lists? What if I could go away for the weekend with my wife and not have one eye on my cellphone?
There is a story in Judaism of a man who lives in a small house with his wife and many children. He is losing his mind with the noise and the crowded conditions. He consults his Rabbi to ask what he should do, and is told to invite his cow into the house. Not understanding why, he takes the advice anyway; such is the power of Rabbis in Jewish folklore. He does so, and now, of course, it is worse. Much worse (and don’t get him started on the smell). So then the Rabbi advises him to banish the cow. Suddenly, his previously unbearable cottage seems spacious, quiet, and more than enough home for everyone.
The emergency room is my cow.
Now that my father has emerged from his first Massachusetts hospital experience, I am looking forward to moving back into my cozy little cottage. We’ll resume our usual Thursday frozen pizza dinners. I’ll go back to being tech support on his iPad, and to reaching the light bulbs he can’t get to, and to expecting him late for everything. I’ll have my next Saturday morning spent in front of our weekly-meal-planning-whiteboard with Nova, figuring out how to squeeze in one more meal with her and our kids.
True, I didn’t really invite the cow into my home; it sort of barged in. But the same emotion applies: gratitude for the people I have inside the house and the hope I get to live here with them just a little while longer.