Lately I have been feeling really grateful. I'd like to think it's because I'm maturing, and that's what adulthood is like - you appreciate your surroundings now that you've finally found your place in the world. But I suspect the truth is quite different. Spring is finally here! To be honest, I'm not a big fan of this time of year. My nose gets really runny and every little flying creature wants to get into my mouth and eyes when I ride my bike through the woods. But I can't deny that it's the best time of year! The scenery outside is just breathtaking, and sometimes during my walks I have to stop for a moment and take a closer look at the flowering plants I have noticed. There is also this great advantage called THE SUN! Winters in Poland are quite grey and it can get depressing after a while. Oh boy, but now? Sweet, sweet vitamin D, come to daddy! The world around us is such an amazing place!
During one of my meditation sessions in the middle of the forest, I asked myself - hey, actually, how does the sun inject vitamin D into my body just by shining up here? As you may not know, meditation is all about switching off your thoughts. The human mind is not a big fan of this, so it sneaks in random thoughts whose sole purpose is to distract you. Later that day I googled the above question and to my surprise it turns out that the sun is just a facilitator and the real work is done by our bodies!
According to the National Library of Medicine, "During exposure to sunlight, 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin absorbs UV-B radiation and is converted to previtamin D3, which in turn isomerises to vitamin D3". Well done skin, thank you for your service!
Let's move on to the main topic, as my relationship with Spring was only meant to be a modest introduction that has unexpectedly expanded.
I love my parents more than anyone. I know they love me in return. Stoics often imagine losing their possessions, friends or relatives forever - such practice prepares a person for the worst-case scenario. And whenever I think about my parents not being here, I'm devastated and my body reacts accordingly. Glassy eyes, a lump in my throat, tension I can't even describe. I'm really grateful that my depressive episode didn't end tragically. I can't even imagine what it's like to see your child leave the world on their own terms. And I don't want to.
My relationship with my parents is not easy. We never say 'I love you', 'I'm proud of you' or 'I miss you'. There's no hugging or other touching interaction. We're very awkward with each other. But the love is there, I guarantee you. We just have our own ways of showing it.
Let us start with my father. His definition of love is clear. Whenever he visits me, I know he will cook something delicious. I interpret it as "I want the best for you, that's why I took the time to prepare this meal. I want to spend more time with you and I really appreciate that we sit together and have our moment". His other way of showing love is just by talking to me. I was a very quiet child when I was growing up, and there was no bond with my parents. I think my dad is trying to make up for all those years when I was in a really dark place and we didn't talk much. During our conversations, he brings up all sorts of topics - including those where he tries to belittle me or simply despise what I do. But I also appreciate these conversations, because what I hear is: "I think you have a potential that you are wasting. One day we won't be here for you and you'll have to look after yourself and your brother. I want you to be as prepared as possible".
My mother is a very enterprising woman. She has worked very hard to get where she is, and in my childhood I rarely got to see her because she would go to work when I was asleep and come back when I was also already in bed. Our financial situation was always uncertain. So now, when Mum buys something - it could be clothes, sweets or even furniture - I hear "If I could, I would give you the whole world". Mom, like dad, also signals her feelings through conversation. I can only assume it's their way of making sure I'm OK and that my inner demons are still under lock and key.
How do they know I love them? To be honest, I can only assume that my actions speak for themselves. Whenever my father comes to visit, I make sure there is some tasty alcohol waiting for him. When I talk to my mother, I make sure to ask her about her latest adventures, experiences or recent events in my parents' area. If I have a question about a topic that is more or less close to her, I call her before I go to Google for answers. I also try to bring a bit of intimacy into our family, like fist-bumping with my dad when we meet after not seeing each other for a while.
Lately our family has started to look like a... real family? For the first time I see us as a team. We've all overcome our personal adversities and it's beautiful to see. I wish everyone could have such a great relationship with their parents. And if there are things that can't be fixed, remember that being a loving parent is just as valuable as being a loving child. Spreading love is something you can do anywhere and with anyone.