Hakuna matata is a Swahili phrase which means “no worries” or “there isn’t a problem/trouble”. We have a friend who says that is a great translation of Sorgenfrei! It does not mean that we will not have issues or concerns. There is a popular song in the Lion King called Hakuna Matata. In the song they say “it’s a problem free philosophy”. That is my resolution for the upcoming year. Here is a story that I heard/read when I was young and has always stayed with me. It is the story of the boy who could sleep on stormy nights.
A rancher, who had a small farm, went to the cattle fair to sell some of his stock and hire someone to help him with the upcoming harvest. He spoke to several young men who were experienced farm hands, but liked a young boy the best as he seemed to be very sincere, though lacking in experience. When speaking to the boy, the rancher asked him what he could do, to which the boy replied, “I can sleep on stormy nights”. Feeling rather disappointed that such a nice boy should turn out to be more than a little weird, the rancher went on his way. However, he wasn’t satisfied with the other prospective candidates and came back to the boy and again asked him what he could do, to which the boy again replied, “I can sleep on stormy nights”. The rancher once again walked away, but didn’t find anyone else to his liking and eventually hired the boy. The first week passed and the rancher had no complaints against the boy or his work. Then one night, a freak storm suddenly blew up. The rancher, awakened by the howling wind, grabbed his lantern and hurried to fetch the boy. He found the boy sleeping like Rip Van Winkle, snoring away, blissfully unaware of the gale. Despite the rancher’s urgent pleading and pummeling, the boy continued to sleep soundly. Cursing the day he hired the boy, the rancher hurried out into the gathering storm to secure his property. To his surprise, he found every window latched, every door locked, all tools and implements locked down, even the straw tied down with sacking, nothing loose to be corralled, no loose ends to be tied up. Tired, wet and shivering, the rancher slowly walked back to the ranch house and suddenly realized what the boy had meant about sleeping on stormy nights. He always did his work conscientiously, so he didn’t have any need to be a light sleeper.
If I were to read this story for the first time today, I probably wouldn’t be as impressed by it but as a kid it had quite an impact. It’s message is still very clear today. It set an example for me to live up to, a goal to achieve, a benchmark to meet, but mostly, it inspired in me the desire to put duty first. I won’t say I have achieved it, but I definitely try. My issue with sleep (or lack of it) is interesting. I feel very comfortable and complete with the things that have to get done. I sleep according to the clock. I am not good about napping (which is unfortunate as I hear much about the value of sleep)! I often say that the brain keeps learning while we sleep. Since strokes are called “brain attacks”, I totally support any activity for the brain.
I have done many therapies since I had the stroke (and I consider myself fairly enlightened). But it was about 9 months after I had the stroke, when I was in water therapy that the reality of the stroke set in. I had to learn to swim again (relearn everything). I was never a strong swimmer, (I tell people I was a rock in a previous life) but it was that experience that made the stroke real! I say that I don’t like the water but that’s not really true because I love showers, bathing, boats and the ocean. I just don’t like to swim! I’ve said this before but the therapist who worked with me said at one point “don’t worry, you won’t drown, it’s too much paperwork!” That puts a smile on my face each time. I see that humor is always a part of what we do! A couple of years ago, I did a post on adjusting the sails. That is what I try to do.
I have never been a vegetarian. I was raised not having big meat portions and that seems fairly standard to me. Before I had the stroke, I liked my beef rare. I used to say just walk the cow through a warm room or wave a match at the cow. I thought one could taste the beef more that way and the various cuts tasted different. My taste is coming back but not as strong as it was before. I find that beef cooked well is easier to chew and swallow. I can’t really taste the subtle differences. Now I prefer my beef well done.
There’s an HBO special the late comedian Robin Williams did sometime ago. He does a great bit in it about golf. He explains why they are called strokes and how each hole has a pole which has a flag on the top to give us hope! Once isn’t enough, we see it 18 times in a game. We can all understand hope. I am not a Pollyanna, but I choose hakuna matata!
Here’s another thing that I mentioned before about the swimming adventure. When I went to the deep end successfully, the instructor told me even though people may not realize it when they swim, they keep moving. I figured I was floating in the deep end so it was good enough. The moving part was a big surprise for me. I share this story again because I don’t think there is a simple or single version of hakuna matata. That’s been major for me after stroke — how we keep moving (physically and emotionally) is a huge part.
Próspero Año Nuevo (I like it so much better in Spanish)
I’ve used the Melody Beattie quote about gratitude before but I particularly like the part where she says “gratitude turns what we have into enough.” I’m going to use baseball or the 2014 World Series as an example of this concept. The World Series is the baseball championship between the two leagues (American and National). This year the World Series was between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants. Lots of people have said that the World Series this year was not pivotal because these two teams were not the best teams but rather the wild card teams. (You may need to look up “wild card”.) I completely disagree with this idea. I’m not sure we can define “best”. I had two neurosurgeons who worked on my AVM. At the first anniversary of the stroke, I had appointments to see them. One surgeon said to me during the appointment “what do you want?” I said “I want to be normal.” He looked at me and asked “what is normal?” Isn’t that great? (I have a friend who says it’s a new normal!) It’s like “best”. I had a third neurosurgeon who later determined he could remove the AVM. I am thrilled that the World Series was two wild card teams. I think it’s a great example of turning what we have into enough. (By the way the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. I can totally get used to saying they have won that championship 3 times in the last 5 years!) I don’t know if this is about gratitude but it’s about this baseball series. I am not a superstitious person but I told Matt that I noticed the Giants did better when I drank champagne during the game. He said “It’s going to be an expensive post-season!” I drank champagne during the entire run. Since champagne is one of my favorite things, I am very grateful! (The champagne worked!)
I’ve said how I use a ruler or guideline to get from one line to the next when I read. It’s a bit of a hassle, but it makes me appreciate reading every time I move from line to line. Here’s a story about Matt, baseball, books and people’s goodness. People who follow the San Francisco Giants on the television know Amy Gutierrez. She is on the broadcast team for the home games. She is very knowledgeable about baseball and provides what I call the people side of the sport. She wrote a book titled Smarty Marty’s Got Game. In the book, she gives the history of her love of baseball. Last year for the holidays, I contacted her via e-mail and told her that I had a stroke, how Matt is my caregiver and that we love baseball. She replied and told me where to get the book on-line and she told me when I got the book to send it to her. So I did that and she signed the book for Matt and sent it back!
Several people are doing a gratitude challenge and I love reading those on-line. Some people post the good things in their life, others list the mundane things, (others list some pretty negative things). All of them are fabulous! Who’s to say what’s negative or positive? I keep thinking about that “what is normal?” You may be familiar with the saying “one man’s trash/junk is another man’s treasure”.
Matt, the boys, friends, family (people say framily), baseball, SF Giants, God, humor, champagne, brunette angels, Byer’s Choice carolers, holidays, scarves, bracelets, theater, art, television shows, movies, waking up each morning, smelling roses, AVMs, strokes, vodka, limoncello, books, reading, Scrabble, gardening, sports, visiting with people, hearing people laugh, companionship, belonging, technology, corn, ice-cream, multi-cultural things, the smell of the house when the cleaners finish, chai/tea, organizations like Rebuilding Together, Magic Theater, American Heart/American Stroke Association, the Aneurysm/AVM Foundation, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, our house, the outdoor kitchen, being loved, loving others, sight, peaches, anything orange, Rumi, coo of a Mourning Dove, heritage, freedom, dirty laundry, heat, a whole new world, Matt playing the piano, dimples, rain, Almond Joys and much more.
“I simply remember my favorite things
and then I don’t feel so bad” - from Maria in the Sound of Music