Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Country Music and Humility

Dear Jules,
Well, you might be surprised at this blog title since these words are far from my favorites.  I will admit that, although I listen to absolutely everything from hip hop to rap to classical to folk/bluegrass, straight out country is a bit too corny for me.  No offense to my many friends who love country music- it's just not something I ever grew into (although I am going to give it a try today).

And humility: well, I have a troubled relationship with this word.  Growing up Catholic, I always felt that the point of humility, especially as a woman, was to be "less than."  Less than men (especially in the church), less than others.  My grandmother always said that we should just think of ourselves as dirt and, while that might be literally true after we die, it did nothing for my already precarious self-confidence.

So why am I writing about these two words together?  Well, today in yoga class, we discussed humility as the art of "being present" or clearing our minds so that we can observe.  In other words, then, humility would be like negative capability: taking our egos out of the picture so that we can observe life?  And celebrate it without ourselves getting in the way?

This, to me, is really different from "you're just a piece of dirt."  It means that we are part of something bigger, and we need to keep that in mind in order to keep our petty concerns from overwhelming that reality.  This morning, I read an article about a country music singing couple I had never heard of, Joey and Rory Feek.

Basically, Joey Feek was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, shortly after she had her little girl Indiana, or Indie.  She has battled two different types of cancer and has now decided to go home to be under hospice care: to spend time with her little girl while she can.  She's young (39), has a blossoming career, is beautiful, and has this all-encompassing faith that I envy, but instead of complaining, she had her husband have decided to cherish the time they have left.

This is, in and of itself, commendable.  As a side note, a friend of mine mentioned that the little girl they had a year ago has Down Syndrome...like you!  So I did more reading and found Rory's blog about the "diagnosis," and it was the most down-to-earth thing I have read:

In the days that followed, there was some concern about Indy and through genetic chromosome testing done at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, it has been confirmed that Indiana has Down Syndrome.  Although that news came at first as a surprise to us, Joey and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.  During the pregnancy, we never did an ultrasound, or saw a doctor, nor would it have made any difference if we had.  We trusted that God would give us the baby He wanted us to have… and He has.  Out of all the parents in the world, He has chosen us to care for and raise this special gift.

The baby is healthy and doing wonderful and Joey and I are loving each and every minute that we have with her.  We can’t wait to see where this new chapter in our lives leads us and what wonderful story unfolds in the coming years. 

And that, Jules, was it.  No "I was angry with God," or "why me?" or any of the painful things we read when we read about "the diagnosis."  Instead these people are just excited to have A BABY. And with Joey having little time left, the emphasis is on her enjoying her time with you, not on the fact that Rory will be a single dad to a daughter with special needs.  Clearly, the only special need that these people think she has is for love.  And that, Julia, is true.  And humble.  And real.  Here's a video that made me cry because it reminded me of when you came into our lives.

the birth of Indiana from Hickory Films on Vimeo.

These two things have reminded me that, even though it's sometimes hard to juggle your therapy and my work, and even though I'm sometimes jealous of parents for whom these developmental milestones are more simple, I can never stop being humble: being fully present, observing life, being negatively capable so that I can make room for joy and gratitude.  We are so very lucky to have you in our lives, and I wouldn't ever ever change a thing.  So if I complain about being tired or overworked, as we are all wont to do, I hope I can remember this strange conflation of country music and yoga and remember to be humble: to be grateful, as I was when you came into our lives.

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