“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” Rabindranath Tagore
An old friend who I've recently reconnected with asked me, "What do you do now?" .. The simplest of questions and yet I hesitated to answer. I typed the words 'home carer' and then deleted them as a strange mix of embarrassment and disbelief came over me. And then I was equally ashamed of those feelings. What do I do now? I care for people... since when was that something to feel ashamed of?
I'm beginning to see more and more clearly that at any given moment we are either busily engaged in the made up world of thought, made to feel very real indeed by the gift of consciousness, or fully present to the gift of life itself. So at work there are times when I'm fully present to the next bag of someone's rubbish, dirty plates or soiled bedsheets I have to deal with, and all my thinking about "how did I get here?!" Or another shower to assist with, more cream to apply, house work to do or meds to prompt (and all my thinking about "what hard, low status/low paid, and tiresome work this is") OR I'm present to the deep connection that's possible between two human beings, no matter the task at hand.
Sometimes I'm lucky enough to show up and connect with folk, deeply listen to their life stories and participate in their recollections of celebration, ambition, struggle, moments of joy, hope and perseverance or suffering and disappointment.
Today I sat with a woman who had played with the children of Alfred Adler while her Mum studied psycho-analysis with him(!), and I listened to Gilbert and Sullivan with a man who has a life time of memories stored in a collection of symphonies and chamber music that reflects his own, and European history. I walk in gardens which have been tended over decades by couples in love, and stare into the eyes of children in family portraits taken on cameras from another century. I enjoy the creativity of people who are (and always have been) more than their service packages and care plans or the careers they once had; RAF pilots, nurses who gave up the chance to marry, wedded instead to their profession, teachers, artists, home makers. I'm grateful for the company of families whose paths would not have crossed mine but for this job, and the wisdom of folk who have lived long enough to know that "things tend to work out in the end." We sit and chat and laugh and I listen; listen to their memories and share the stories of times passed, and in these moments of deep connection to another human being, all my personal thought disappears and I'm present to Life itself. And dropping out of personal thought and into this precious heart space is effortless - (I guess that accounts for the low pay!) And there's nothing more simple, natural, delicious and liberating than falling out of thought and into love. (No status there, but who cares!?)
Connection to folk from days gone by and experiencing their life with them through memory is to extend my life backwards and theirs forwards. It's to live together in a field of consciousness beyond and within the present moment.. and low paid it might be but priceless it most definitely is.
I'm grateful to work for a wonderful care agency with a fabulous, dedicated, hard working, gifted and loving team of colleagues. It's a low status job which simply shouldn't be the case and one day society might Wake Up enough to value our relationships with each other more highly than our relationships to money and stuff, but until and regardless of then, I'm mighty proud to be a home-carer.