Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Which Way Does the Wind Blow?

     One day I was lying on the couch talking myself out of doing something life-enhancing like taking a run, reading a book, cooking some vegetables, or thinking inspirational thoughts.
      I didn't want to move.  I was going to do what we all secretly wish we could do all the time--when our better natures don't get the best of us:  lie on the couch, watch TV, eat Ruffles potato chips out of a family-size bag, doze into a mindless slumber, wake so thirsty I decide to eat a quart of ice cream, and lie back down again for the night without locking the doors or brushing my teeth.   This is a good way to eliminate everything constructive from your head for a while, and we all need to do it now and then if only to drive away the demons of super-health, the ones that have us convinced that if we would only do everything right we could live forever.
     The phone rang and my son, Eli,  asked what was wrong.
     "I'm just having a down day," I said.
     "But, why?"
     He didn't seem to think being on a prosecutor's black list or anticipating indictment were very good reasons for being downcast.
     "Why don't you go out and feed the chickens?"
     "I already did that."
     "What about the Autism Farm?" he asked.  "What are you planning next for that?"
     "It's on hold."
     "Do you want a great recipe for cabbage salad with miso-peanut dressing?"
     "I just don't get it," I said.
     "Get what?"
     "Why some of the people who worked happily for me year after year, and cashed their paychecks and went to the office parties, and worked like greyhounds for the good of the patients, and laughed out back at the picnic tables with a beer or two when the day was over, and said how much they appreciated their jobs, are now jostling to see me hang in the gallows.  And hang--for what?"
     "Don't worry, Mom," Eli said.
     "How could they follow a whistleblower as though she were the Pied Piper?"  I sighed.  "And that whistleblower, with self-interest oozing from every orifice?"
     "Some people go whichever way the wind blows," he said.
     "It could be blowing in my direction."
     "Probably it is, but they think they have more to gain on the other side."
     "I can't believe it."
     "Don't you know what Winston Churchill said?"
     Eli is always quoting people.  He knows a ton of things, all stored in his thousand-gigabyte memory.
     "What did Winston Churchill say?"
     "'If you don't have enemies, you haven't stood for anything.'"
     "Wow, Eli."
     "Don't you see, Mom?  You stood for something.  And you're bound to get some flack for it."
     "What did I stand for?"
     "You wanted to promote clinics where people wouldn't have to go anywhere else.  Like old-time doctors.  You wanted to know everything there is to know about your patients, so you could save them.  And now you want to start that Autism Farm."
     "I guess I do."
     "Just remember Churchill when you get down."
     "Thanks, Eli."
     The reason to have kids is to be inspired.  When they're little they inspire you to go to work every day so you can put food on the table.  When they're grown they send you wisps of wisdom in the form of Churchill quotes.
     I don't know if it was that quote or just getting a call from Eli, but I asked him for the cabbage salad recipe.  Turns out it's from a book by a vegan ultra marathoner, a guy who inspired Eli because he did what no one thought possible:  ate cabbage salad, and no meat, and became one of the greatest athletes of today.
    I got off the couch and put on my running shoes.  Outside, I headed in the direction of the wind.  

1 comment:

  1. All you need to do to understand Eli is look in the mirror Ona. Even with what some might call trauma, which I do not, he is almost perhaps as brilliant as his mother.