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We Are All Interdependent, Interconnected – and Caregivers

On Oct. 29, 2021, President Biden declared “National Family Caregivers Month” for the month of November. I am sure this did not make the national headlines and most of us are not aware of this announcement.


Certainly, because of COVID-19, many people became caregivers to someone who got the virus. Fortunately, only a small percentage became sick enough to be in the hospital, but many who had mild cases had to be cared for at home and family members became caregivers.


Of course, because of my age, I am acutely aware of how many of us are directly or indirectly affected for the need of caregiving not only because of COVID-19. Many of us are or were caregivers to our parents.


And we need to be reminded of the caregivers when each of us was born. Most of the time, it was our mothers who were the primary caregivers, but it involved fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and so many others who took care of us so we can be here today.

As Buddhists, we know that we need to take care of each other and to be caregivers to each other. The strength of the Sangha is that we help each other and to rely on each other as we travel the road of life.


That is why we call the members of the Sangha – Fellow Travelers. We are all in this journey called life and we know that we come into this world alone and we will leave this world alone, but during this time that we call life is when we need each other.


We are interdependent and interconnected. No one can live their life alone and totally independently. We all had parents, we all had caregivers and teachers, and we live in an interdependent world. We do not grow or hunt for our own food anymore. We do not build our own shelters anymore. We don’t make our own clothes anymore. And we rely on furnaces or heaters to stay warm.


We need others to survive. We now live in towns and cities. We don’t walk very much; we use the bicycle, bus, train or the car allows us to get around. We don’t make our own bicycles, buses, trains or cars, so we need others. Those around us are Fellow Travelers.


We need our Fellow Travelers as caregivers when we are born, we need Fellow Travelers as we grow and learn, we need Fellow Travelers as we become adults and provide food, shelter and warmth. We need Fellow Travelers as we get old and need care.

It is a circle. We receive care from caregivers, and then we might become the caregivers to those in need, and in the end, we receive the benefits of caregivers again.


We are all in different stages of giving care or receiving care. Each of us have different abilities and different capacities. And we all have the responsibility to do our best when it comes time to be a caregiver.


On a personal note, I was witness to my wife, and the care she provided her mother at the end of her life. She was able to repay and return the care that she received as a child. Not all of us are able and not all of us have the capacity to be such a fulfilling caregiver.

I know that I am not a very good caregiver. It is not easy and I have limited capacity because I cannot anticipate the needs of the person needing care. What a reminder — I am made aware of my limitations.


We are Fellow Travelers on our journey to encounter Awakening.


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