Life in the dust of evening
Once upon a time, my grandmother was a wild woman. She was the mysterious heroine of my childhood, with her sharp glances and her slim, flexible figure, and her long hair that she wore rolled up at the back of her head. She knew the most astounding legends about fairies and wise women living in caves nearby all dressed in white, but also about the giant ghost dogs and the goblins of the forest and the swamps; and her ability to create dishes so delicious that we ate way too much was famous in the neighborhood.
My parents were poor, and my grandmother had made it her duty to "get the children's cheeks red again", and she indeed knew how to paint them rosy during the holidays that my brother and I spent with her in the Austrian countryside with all the flowers, the butterflies, the large meadows, huge rocks and baby kittens calling in the hay storages. Grandmother's treatment was perfectly aimed at "wellness", before that term was known at all (at least in the Non-English speaking part of the world).
The air always smelled fresh, the creeks competed with the birds in singing their songs and at all seasons the area was full of adventure, and the old colonial days house was dark and cool with deep beds and squeaky doors. The village people exchanged milk, cheese, honey, meat, herbs, fruits, vegetables, clothes and especially help at the diverse labors of a rural life. I was always proud of my grandmother because she knew everything and was a popular hostess: People showed up all the time and enjoyed conversing with her, getting her advise and many gracious gifts, especially fresh and dried herbs.
Grandmother had expert knowledge about herbs and healing techniques, among which were some "magical" practices that nobody would believe nowadays. I found out later that many people are trying hard to learn the "esoteric" "magical" things that were natural for us in the days of my childhood when my grandmother was still young. Today I wonder if my grandmother has forgotten it all when she is helped out of bed and into bed, living a life of dozing between the meals and the times to get up and lie down in an old aged people's home.
There were numerous stories around grandma's life during the war (all beginning with the unusual love-affair between her own mother and her own father; I remember my great-grandfather in his dark room, eating flour-soup spiced up with sour cream and garden herbs) and how brave she was, and that grandpa was prisoner in Russia and in France and came back home two times by foot. He was a womanizer and an alcoholic after the war, but they kept their relationship up in that old house in the forest, where the owls called at night and foxes and rabbits said "Good Night" to each other. There was no running water, and I always enjoyed, summers and winters, to walk out into nature to get water from the creek.
Grandmother is now almost ninety-four years old, but I wouldn't be surprised if she would pass away soon. Of course this thought hurts, especially since I live most of the time halfway around the world from her. She and I have made our peace with each other in a very subtle "huna" way, and it's quite amazing. Grandma indeed still teaches me perfectly in concordance with my own studies of the "Huna" philosophy.
Grandma was a tailor and produced amazing clothes for the people of the villages around, and I was allowed to use her old iron sewing machine, because since my early childhood I had joined her in her craft whenever I had the opportunity. She didn't explain much of her craft, it was more learning by observing and by doing. I became quite knowledgeable regarding the usage of herbs too, and I see her in many of my own ways, now, that I am over forty.
When I lived in Vienna, about 250 miles from my grandmother's place, I never missed the opportunity to stop by her place on the way North and back, and she always had coffee and cake ready. After my grandfather died in a tragical car accident, the visits became an integral part of my life. It was a shock when this beloved habit stopped - when I was told that grandmother had fallen, broken her hip and was now transferred to an old aged people's home.
In a way, this was the end of my grandmother as I knew her, but in another way it was the beginning of a new life for her. It's the source of sadness to wish from something that is inevitably gone instead of focusing on what actually IS and learning to deal with that.
At first, she bitterly complained about living in that home, but the personnel gave her enough drugs to get her quiet. Too fast, way too fast, she lost her ability to walk and to stand and now, to speak and to move. My uncle was (and is) in charge of her affairs, and he had decided that it was too dangerous to leave her alone. Although she protested, a "nice clean and quiet place" was given to her in an elderly people's home where most of the inhabitants were in way worse conditions than her.
During the first years in that home grandmother often begged me to take her back home and just leave her there since she would rather die than live among those "living dead". Honestly, I thought about it, but there was no way. Family members were aggressively monitoring my behavior and my willingness to get grandma back into her old life and fulfill her will. And I wasn't so sure if it really was good thing. I clung to the belief that one day she would get so much better that she could return home. This was a very na•ve take, and her old dwelling is rotting away as you are reading this.
I did my best to make her feel good whenever I could be with her. She fell terribly sick, several times, but always survived. All the nurses and the doctor agreed (and still do), that her "will to live" is amazing. This got me thinking. What is it that she still has to accomplish in this life? I don't know, but I support her. How?
This was meant to be the end of this story, but I tell you right now: I learned in many years of dealing with the Hawaiian and other concepts of "mana", influential force, that distance isn't an issue in supporting another human being. And that the most important ingredient in energetic work is respect for the other person's will.
I used to be very sad and desperate about the situation that I couldn't be closer to grandma and help her more until I realized that I could be as close as I wanted. And that my thoughts had exactly the power that was described in many a piece of literature about the transmission of "mana".
What I do is, I bring myself in a mood of utter delight, for example, when I am swimming in the turquoise warm waters of the Pacific or watch a sunset from an elevated spot on Maui, or when I get to a very intense spot in my script for a documentarty film about Hawaiian culture, I fill myself with positive energy, meaning that I really allow the delight, the enthusiasm, the love and excitement to expand and reach every "corner" or my being, so strong, that I could "explode", so to speak and then I send this "force" to my grandmother, using my imagination and my will. But I restrain from thinking "Get better!" or "Feel well!" I "tell" grandmother by means of our telepathic "phone line" that this "mana" is my gift for her and that I want her to use it the way SHE needs it.
And this is the crucial aspect: the way SHE wants to use it. For WHAT EVER SHE feels is appropriate. I hold in my heart that it will be for her highest good. But it's not me to decide what that would be. I can still hold my positive visions, but with respect for her path and her inner spirit's agendas.
I "tell" grandma, that I am FINE with whatever she chooses to do with my gift of energy that I send her often; If she wants to get better and surprise everyone in this life that would be wonderful. There are no limits, really, and her body might as well recover miraculously so that she would once again become a lovely partner in life and get people to believe in "miracles". But if she needs it to move on to a different realm, my blessings are with her too, and I won't consider my empowering gift as "not used" or "having been useless". She will use whatever I send to her in one way or the other, and in one form of existence of the other. Energy never gets lost.
The most fascinating part of it all is that my mother often tells me about "miracles" that do happen: Grandma begins to small talk after weeks of silence and coma-like states of being. She inquires about people's welfare although the nurses say she can't remember anyone any more. She moves and eats and laughs on days, when the day before, everybody thought she was almost dead. Indeed, grandma works with the "mana" I want her to have. I can't help her to make decisions, but I can share my life's experiences with her and invite her in, thinking of her whenever I experience something lovely.
Let's not go into the question about how "mana" "travels." Let's just remain for some more minutes with the subject "When does a human being stop being an human creator"? The answer is: Never. Humans always have access to the invisible "grid" of energetic processes, and their imaginative powers are always creative, and their emotions are always energetic forces, and their thoughts are always the means to influence their bodies and their environments.
Hawaiians of old didn't count people's years to determine their age. They had very nice ways of classifying the diverse stages of living. Hawaiians would already observe the children's behavior in order to classify their age. The ability of a baby to crawl out of the sun into the shade was definitely considered a certain stage of development; young adulthood was called ka wa u'i, the "period of the greatest beauty;" Makua was the stage of being a parent or of being spiritually mature; a kupuna was a wise and vigilant elder; Ka 'ehu ahiahi or "the dust of evening" figuratively defined the later stages of life; Haumaka'iole was somebody "having the blurred vision of a rat," and later one could be named pala lau hala, "having skin like the leathery leaf of the pandanus". Kamehameha the Great, for example, is said to have reached such an old age, seventy years, that it was kaniko'o, describing "somebody being so unsteady that the sound of a cane announces one's arrival."
During her first years in the elderly people's home, grandmother scared nurses and other inhabitants with her angry opposition to her confinement. She couldn't live with other women in the same room because she would nag and insult them until they would cry. That way she kept everybody "alive" in a very subtle meaning: Her anger and her rude behavior were her only "exercise" for a while. Then the drugs took over.
She scared me, too, sometimes, because I thought that it was pure hatred that made her act so unfriendly and wildly. Until one day I stepped into the doorway of her room without her and the doctor noticing. "... but I used to walk around all day long," she said in a shaky, thin voice, lying on her bed, her eyes wet, looking at the young doctor, searching his face, "isn't there anything for pain in my joints so that I can walk again?"
The doctor shook his young blond head, looking at his wristwatch, murmuring, "What do you expect, ... at your age! Don't rely on any miracles to occur, ... the time has come. When a certain age is reached, there is not much more that can be done..." I shivered to the bones hearing this ... Doc admired his wristwatch again, "... just rest now, you have done enough in your life ..."
Who WAS he to determine whether she had "done enough" or still had things to accomplish?
After he had left (leaving a variety of coloured pills in a plastic container), the wild woman hit her bed with her fist, shouting in a very strong, very loud, very young voice: "God! Why can't I just die instead of rotting away here, useless?"
My grandmother belongs to a generation who sees "Gods in White" in physicians. At the beginning of the last century, medicine took off: Great new methods of diagnosis and treatment had been discovered, and suddenly the "little man on the street" was able to afford medical treatment (before that, several diseases that now are being treated were not even recognized as diseases at all!).
Health became big business, and "chemical" remedies with "unfailing healing power" became popular (they never delivered, though, what they promised). Nobody seemed to understand that the pill doesn't glue your cells together or fix the nerves, and that it doesn't have own intelligence to know where to go within the body, the body does all healing by itself, if it is encouraged to do so or has a good reason for changing the condition for the better.
About the same time "the Elderly" were degraded to become clients of the Welfare-systems. Who needed them any longer in the countries where industrialism expanded, with all the technical equipment and modernized procedures of life? They had to be kept quiet so they wouldn't disturb those who really lived.
The "there is nothing left to do!"-attitude is the true catastrophe and "disease" on this planet! My grandmother had always been the one person in my life who used to encourage everyone in the most wicked and seemingly "lost" situation. And now she got to hear from the "God in white" that she had always been wrong, since her creed "There is always a way to improve" was bluntly denied?! What must this do to her soul?
During the past years, when she had been mostly lying down staring at the ceiling or dozing, I kept asking her: "Grandma, what are you doing? What do you see?" And often she had replied with a very strong voice: "I see nothing because there is just a white wall, don't you see it?" or "I am thinking, since I've got a lot to think about."
These answers kind of comforted me, because I understood that there are diverse ways of experiencing. It doesn't mean that she is suffering when she stares into the air and doesnŐt speak. And what she calls "thinking" is perhaps a way of life that the body doesn't take much part in.
Often, in her first years in the home, she refused to be brought outside. She simply wanted to sit and do nothing. The drugs, my mother said. But I learned to believe in a certain remaining power of choice from her part, especially when my mother told me that grandma had never liked to be outside much after her tough youth in the fields; She had always enjoyed being at home, chatting, knitting, sewing and cooking. Grandmother has always been extremely healthy. Now, when the nurses want her to eat greens, fruit and yogurt I understand her disgust, since she had always liked pastry and meat, soup and strong coffee. From a physiological chemical point of view, the greens may be good. But hey, in times of supplements nobody should be forced to eat vegetables when they don't like them. Humans are unique and have unique needs. Even in a state of weakness and when she could barely chew because of sores in her mouth, grandmother would enjoy a smoked sausage greatly and be very unhappy with beets and cabbage.
We really shouldn't throw the old people into one "drawer" and think "Nothing can be done anymore". This isn't righteous. And it isn't humane.
Although there seems to be a "fight" between "the generations" there is not that much of a difference between "the Young" and "the Elderly", seen from a social point of view: Both groups live kind of an "outlaw"-life among the people who stand "in the middle of life". Both groups are considered creatures in special circumstances, in "problematic states" of human development. "The Young" lack experience, and "the Elderly" lack efficiency. There is hope for "the Young", as they are expected to socialize and get used to the rules "of society" to become useful one day, but the old ones. "Geriatric Research" seals the alienation between "the Elderly" and the rest of the population: to separate the research on the physical conditions of older people from all other branches of medical and psychological research is one of the biggest affronts of mankind against mankind.
"The Elderly", in fact, do not exist (neither do "the Young"), because no two people of the same age are in the same condition. Not concerning the body and not the mind and it's ideas and not the emotions and the memory. There is only the idea of what an old person is like. We all grew up "knowing" how it will be to be old: painful and embarrassing. But, do we realize, that during the aging-process physical phenomena show up that used to show up before as well, they were just taken differently and mostly even ignored! Or do you want me to believe that no younger person ever has "problems with the memory", backache, difficulties with concentration, bad teeth, hurting joints and muscles, loss of appetite, depressions and problems falling asleep? Like in all stages of life the old body can be influenced by thoughts and the human being experiences strength and weakness in all stages of life, but in the cases of "the Young" and "the Old" they are given extra evidence.
Once my grandmother tried to find a box of biscuits in her tiny room that she wanted to give to me as a gift. She searched and searched. Her roommate couldn't really help her because she had be lying in a coma for years. And I could only helplessly watch Grandma's attempt to treat me with something nice, like she used to do, and accompanied by one of those terrible noises that the coma-lady kept producing, half suffocating, grandma yelled under tears: "This is what they made of me here! A helpless old goat without brains!"
In many cultures old people are full and valuable members of the society and work and are of use until their last breath. How come, many old people are healthy and strong, self-confident and even happy when the media claim that there is the "typical old person"?
"The doctor knows best" my grandmother used to angrily defend her "God" when somebody pointed out that there might be some more options for her to regain health, such as more exercise É The doctor had said that she had worked enough in her life, - and she decided to believe him and declined.
She began to rest all the time, but couldn't sleep at night. Therefore she got drugs. Her life cycle developed around the need for convenient work of the staff of the home. I couldn't believe that she was brought to bed at three or four o'clock in the afternoon, - only because of lacking staff! During the years when her mind was still "clearer", she tossed and turned for hours in her bed and cursed her "fate". "Something for the nerves" was the treatment she got from the nurses.
The truly needed medicament would be "something for the system". Because whilst the "nerves" are quite okay - the system sucks. It had me in it's grip too. Very much so. I couldn't stand up against the other family members, because they called the spiritual things that I was interested in "hocus pocus" and "useless idle waste of thoughts". Of course, there is no real "system" that "makes" one do anything: We are always only dealing with single human beings. However, they are living according to very strict ideas about life, and their self-hypnosis into following certain "truths" lead by countless fears are so strong that they are able to refuse to see and comprehed the most obvious. That's the trouble: Humans are stupefied to a large extent. Sadly.
Many people say "But why would we keep the old ones agile when they don't have a place in modern society?"
HELLO! Wake up, folks! It's YOUR duty to CHANGE society in such a way that everyone has a place! All the smart computer programs and fancy methods of treatment and the old folks are still considered "in the way"? Why not figure out how to make them be more welcome? How about a change of ATTITUDE?
But here we are again at the trained stupidity and ignorance of people. TV makes it all worse. After a few days of extensive TV watching (as an experiment), I feel brainwashed, weak and helpless, useless and greedy for more entertainment. Millions of people live that way, without access to their deep inner core, the spiritual reality of comprehension where all the energetic connections are obvious, known by the people of old Hawaii as "noa huna" or "kaona huna" Đ the realm of the hidden truths.
To sentence "the Elderly" to rest until death is no reward for their efforts, it is punishing them by burying them alive. Never forget that our modern time is as well their modern time!
Why do "the Young" want "the Old" to believe that they have nothing to do with the new developments, the "blessings" of the Modern? "The Old" were there too, when they were developed! All the achievements of the Modern are based on the Elder's work! And why do the Old say "Oh, all that modern stuff is beyond our understanding"? They were always around when the modern stuff was produced like "the Young!"
Participation in life is only a matter of focus for anyone. Only effectiveness is the measure of truth. If we would look closely enough we would find out that our inherited and trained ideas of life are actually very effective, dramatically and unrecognized so: They can lead us into happiness or despair, as we decide.
We have built society in a special way. Now it is "running". But it could run in a total different way, too, with giving people different roles than they have now. We habitually live certain ways of life, but there are others possible.
Don't get me wrong, many care-systems for the elderly are very good and beneficial in many cases, and many old folks would live miserable lives without them. However, it's expensive and not accessible for everyone. This is a fact too.
Another fact is that many religious ideas have led humans into complete self-denial. When humans are old, therefore, they have lost their entire self-supportive sense and "give up" their trust in "God" since their thinking malfunctions. What now, after a life of preparation for being "helpless"? Think about it, folks. Religion is only empowering when you hold on to the thought that it empowers you. If you don't, the ideas of unworthiness and helplessness will weaken and destroy you.
Another fact is that there simply isn't an answer to this tough question: Why extend the old people's lives when they aren't of any use for society any more? As a journalist I have come across this question often. If you answer "Because the oldies have families who love them" - look around, count the cases where the helpless and drugged are getting regular loving visits, and think about the abandoned "oldies" in the hospitals and their homes and the completely helpless one from which the children shy back. It can be a very big burden for family members having to care for a disabled "oldie" who doesn't even recognize the ones treating him or her any more!
From an age of about seventy years on the most "geriatric changes" showed up in a human being's life, literature says, they need treatment, mostly diseases of the heart, the blood vessels and the psyche.
Knowing the "language" of the body, a spiritually mature human will understand easily that the centers of self-worth and self-esteem (and many other physical manifestations of energetic processes) must fail at the end when they were weakened all life long by ideas of submission and unworthiness, of helplessness in front of "leaders" and "nature." However, there is not a single proof that we will be sick at the age of seventy-something, as much as there is no guarantee that we will be healthy when we are thirty-something. (My brother died of cancer with twenty-seven, and my grandmother is approaching ninety-four.) After all: The world is as we think it is. What we focus on the most, we attract and end up living it personally. Our life is influenced by a huge amount of energetic influences from all times and dimensions. Only to consider this natural fact and be aware of it can maintain and restore health at any age.
It might take several generations to improve the status of old people in civilization, - but there is no need to invest huge amounts of research funds to develop new methods of treatment: Let's just develop the right attitude towards our OWN influential powers and how they are going to affect your condition in our old days. And let's teach this to younger humans.
I have heard many young people say that they don't want to get old to end up like one of those drooling handicapped, having to wear those terrible-style clothes and shoes, stumbling around on cane of stuck in wheel-chairs. They often treat old people in the manner of "You have already lived, so take care that I am fine!", and "Now give me what you have, you don't need it any more!" Well, kids and teenagers learn by witnessing. Who, then, are their "teachers?" The adults that keep complaining about "aging," not realizing that their own thoughts make them be "old" and miserable.
Let us stay open for the human's basic need: We all want to be valued as full members of the Global Society. Actually, we are that anyway, as we ALL contribute to "life" on this planet, at any age.
There is a variety of treatments and methods to enhance and reactivate the "brain-functions" for old people, nowadays, efforts, that must be honored. But something else urgently needs to be honored, too: The natural course of life and the fact that people are unique and different. What works for one, doesn't work for the other. And if the "cosmic personality" of one person asks for rejuvenation at the age of eighty, the one of the neighbour might get ready to pass out of this lifetime ... attention and loving understanding are asked for, not rigid rules of treatment and "care." Respect doesn't necessarily mean to force a being to stay alive. It doesn't mean to force beings to rest, either, when they were not even asked whether they want to or not! True respect for all of humanity and ourselves means, above all, to get ready to consider different ways of life being possible than we experience now.
If you feel like crying for an old relative or someone passed away, never forget that you are crying for yourself. Those loved ones only exist for you when you think about them. Aloha!
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