Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Grandmother power

It's in their genes.  Little boys are highly susceptible to images of large, muscular brave warriors, with mighty swords or rocket launchers or some other weapon that is so awe-inspiring, it is difficult to breathe while looking at them.  But it is all a trick.  Yes, warriors are needed and have their important uses but society's real power is in grandmothers and crones, a popular tern these days for women of intelligence and power who are in their later years, typically postmenopausal.  Such women know what life is about and often have great courage and real insight.  To my admittedly limited male vision, they are the best source of inspiring, healing care.  They know when to exhort and stir, something that many coaches and drill sergeants know well but they also know how and when to soothe, to give love and encourage tenderness toward one's striving, fearing, finicky, doubtful self.

I read many different guides to a happy life and fulfillment but one of the best consistently is Sylvia Boorstein.  Lynn has gotten lots of good feelings and energy from Sue Bender.  Bender is both a potter and a philosopher and her books "Plain and Simple", about living in an Amish community, and "Everyday Sacred" are filled with insights into the nooks and crannies of life, where good sometimes lies unnoticed and untapped. So, when we finished those during her breakfast readings aloud, we began Boorstein's "Don't Just Do Something, Sit There".  Boorstein is a practicing psychologist and Buddhist teacher.  Her titles are themselves inspiring: "It's Easier than You Think" (to be happy), "Happiness is an Inside Job" and "Pay Attention for Goodness Sake".  She conveys the warmth and healing that a mother inspires in her daughter to pass her orals, her son to get engaged and her husband to bravely relax and trust in retirement.

More authors, thinkers and practitioners are able to direct people toward confidence and higher self-regard.  As the psychiatrist Christopher Germer says, when the going gets tough, the soft get going. As I say, young males can't help it.  They are indeed wired so that they are able to march unflinchingly into battle and they look so cute doing that, the girls get all atwitter, exactly what young males want.  But much of life is not so action-oriented and heroic.  Grandmothers grasp this fact fearlessly and are not wired to be hypnotized by military music. Stay in touch with your grandmother (or someone else's) because her love will nourish you, right along with her chocolate-chip cookies

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