Friday, September 20, 2013

Searching, Creative, and Generous Adventure

A friend I met on Camino said to me, "Adventure is a big part of aging well." 

I hadn't thought of it before like that, but that feels right to me. Not the "jump off cliffs" kind of adventure, necessarily. Maybe I mean "adventure" as a name for an attitude, for the feeling that we have some choice about how we experience not only what we choose to do but also what happens to us---like the resident in the nursing home who told me he liked it there, "there's always so much to do."

I shrink from anything that smells like Pollyana, but this guy didn't. He smelled like sweet barbecue sauce from the ribs he, a diabetic with an amputated leg, wasn't supposed to be eating.

I just read Cravings: Why We Can't Seem to Get Enough, by
Omar Manejwala, M.D., and he too includes ADVENTURE as a  human need (did he actually say "need"? I'm not sure and I've returned the book to the library)--a healthy option, shall we say, that helps overcome cravings. 

Not just the usual physical adventure, either: 
he includes emotional, intellectual, and spiritual adventure. 

Oh, sweet! The author, Omar Manejwala
left a comment answering my question:
"...Indeed, adventure is a need (or really a set of needs...physical adventure, emotional adventure, mental adventure etc. In Craving: Why We Can't Seem to Get Enough, I argue that if this need is not met in a healthy or spiritual way, it will be met artificially/self-destructively."
In the book, Manejwala takes a neurological look at addictions (which are all pretty much the same, he says, no matter what substance or process one is addicted to--my harmful habits are mostly around food), and then he talks about ways we can manage and creatively work around them:
It's 5 percent what you stop doing, he says, and 95 percent what you start doing. *

Today I read an interview with new Catholic pope, Francis––
 A Big Heart Open to God–– and he talks up adventure too,  and being "searching, creative and generous."
I've been wary about this pope, or any pope, after decades of authoritarian ones. But I'm starting to like this guy.

In particular this quote  from Francis goes well with one of my favorite photos of me on Camino:

  I don't believe in God (not as a force that exists independently of us humans, like gravity, anyway), but I'm culturally Catholic, in the sense that, like the pope, I believe Fellini's La Strada is a great movie, even though I haven't watched it since I was twelve, it's so devastating. 

And I believe in the value of doubt--it's the original check-and-balance. So I appreciate a leader who also says things like Francis says here:
"If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. 
If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt."
*Wow---here's an interesting example of what that "5% giving up, 95% adding on" might look like---redirecting away from inevitable physical pain. 

Linda Ronstadt has just come out about living with Parkinson's Disease, a filthy disease that has taken away her ability to sing.
The first time the interviewer asks, How have you adapted to living with Parkinson's? she answers in ways you might expect: 
it's hard, Michael J. Fox is great, the irrational Christian right and politicians who block stem cell research harm us all...

And then, the second time, I thought she wasn't even answering the question. But yes, she is.

AP: How do you cope with Parkinson's?

Ronstadt: There are a couple of things that I'm really passionate about. One of them is immigration reform. They've got to do something about the laws because they're separating families, ripping families apart, setting up situations where people are permanently left out of the economic pie. They're interfering with a natural flow of humanity. Back and forth across the border has been going on for centuries. There never used to be a problem. People used to come and go. We're a nation of immigrants, and the way it's has been directed at Mexico, it's been the most hateful kind of racism.


Zhoen said...

Gogol Bordello sings, "In the old times, it was not a crime."

By the authority of the Church of Subgenius, I am a genuine and authorized pope.

Fresca said...

"Drop the charges!"
I didn't know that song by Gogol Bordello---I know them from "Everything Is Illuminated"--
How 'bout their adorable "Supertheory of Supereverything"? Could be a hymn for the Church of the Subgenius, eh?

poodletail said...

Linda Ronstadt's diagnosis has left me blue. That voice has been a touchstone for Mr. Poodletail and me through our entire marriage. I'm thankful that she's using her voice. In one of her interviews she talked about the fact that these days the hardest part of having Parkinson's is that she can no longer knit.

Omar S. Manejwala, M.D. said...

Indeed, adventure is a need (or really a set of needs...physical adventure, emotional adventure, mental adventure etc. In Craving: Why We Can't Seem to Get Enough, I argue that if this need is not met in a healthy or spiritual way, it will be met artificially/self-destructively.

Nice post.

Fresca said...

POODLE: Blue news, yes. Homey details like not being able to knit make it feel more real.
"Blue Bayou" is one of my favorite Ronstadt songs.

OMAR: Hey! Thanks so much for writing and answering my question!
I added your comment into the body of the post, and I added a link to your book too, which I found wonderfully encouraging---thanks for writing it!