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.