Monday, September 15, 2014

Living with a Big Gut

Ed and Lou
My Dad, the oldest son, and his youngest brother Ed, had notoriously small waists in their youth. Both hard working (and, in the case of Uncle Ed, hard playing) men, they maintained their shape until retirement. Later the love of good living and persistent health issues allowed their guts to expand. Dad lived to his 90's, though getting around was tough towards the end. The gut becomes an inconvenient fact of life.

Parkinson's at 63 has disrupted my weight watcher's dance of roller coaster dieting. I have risen to my upper crest at 124 kilograms. And, despite a serious case of camera embarrassment, feel a futility in abstinence. Too much of my daily grace comes from consumption. Despite a Paleo prejudice, I covet carbohydrates. 

Physical movement has become so untenable, a zombie shuffle, leaning forward as if to bite the neck of some hapless imaginary victim. When once pilgrimage was my magic solvent, when walking was both a passion and a solution,  I now vegetate in the stagnent confines of online exploration. Brave steps out of the house to take the trash to the corner, or to wobble to the nearest vending machine, leaves me panting. Pain follows like a loving lap dog, a merciless reminder of better times.

A buddhistic solution, a middle way of moderation, is so obviously the cure... Yet the screaming child within wants my sugars. A sloth lifestyle seems more suitable to my dark inner spaces. But can I keep searching, in this Japanese sweet land of the petite, for sizes that fit? Or, do I finally talk myself into living fit... Take responsibility: eat less, move more.

It's hard to feel loveable when your magic mirror no longer answers the question 'Who is the fairest of them all?' Get real. In the age of Selfies, a positive self image is essential. With or without the big gut, get that mojo working.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Life as a Cherry Blossom Tattoo

It has been a year since my official diagnosis of Parkinson's. One distinguishing fact for senior citizens is 'negative anniversaries' grow in relevance, while the customary holidays of joy fade in glory. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, no longer feel festive, while the anniversaries of my wife's suicide and other cruel recollections bare forth brutal recall, like an internal fountain of regret.

To rekindle the good vibes I need fresh verification of love, while sadness needs no fresh flame.

I am learning to be a man of disease. I am becoming comfortable, somewhat, in my discomfort. I allow time to wobble where once I sprang. I am almost adjusted to day and night long 'preoccupation' with bowel and urinary functions.

The endless twitching of hand and leg is now as much a member of my family of expressions, as my once wry smile and my charming lift of eyebrows. With Parkinson's my face will grow into an expressionless Noh mask, while muscle motor ticks will dance about my body in an improvisational ballet of freakish wiggles.

While I once measured my time in New York lost in sweet abandonment of dance, now in my beloved Kyoto I measure steps in pain, reaching for sturdy points of support, spacing relief with discomfort. I climb steps to my classroom as I once climbed mountains. My day is a pilgrimage from one rest stop to the next, my temple any chair where I can find reprieve.

It is at this point, in the conventional construct of such negative compositions, I usually find insightful power points to build in optimism and end with a cheerful uplifting pun. I could share how my new classes have begun in cheery pedagogy. I like my students and they seem to enjoy me. My children, friends, and coworkers smile support and affection.  I live well in my disease, and my symptoms seem so far quite manageable.

I am not dead, and in cherry blossom season there is much to be said for being alive.