Using elevators – up is the new down

This need to fix. This need to correct. This need to be right. I can let go of these today. | Marci's musings at

Growing up and living in a rural part of Japan where most buildings are only 2-3 stories, my father-in-law rarely used an elevator. Now he uses one everyday.

I should be celebrating… This man whose brain is befuddled with Alzheimer’s is successfully getting where he wants to go. Instead, everything in me wants to correct him.

Most days I can keep my mouth shut. Every few weeks I am overcome with the need to fix him and I try once again to explain how to operate the elevator properly. I mean, it’s important to use things the proper way, right?

Everyone knows that if you live on the 11th floor and want to go down to the ground floor, you need to hit the DOWN button. This is common sense. This is correct.

But is it?

My father-in-law punches the UP button and a few seconds later the elevator arrives to take him down. Mysteriously, the door sometimes closes, opens and then closes again before heading down. And, once in a while the elevator takes a detour to the 12th or 13th floor before going down. It’s no problem to him, only a minor inconvenience.

And then one day I observed him on his way back up. He stood in front of the elevator confused. The elevator door was closed and there was only one button. The UP button. Eventually he hit the button, the door opened and he got on as usual.

It got me to thinking. What if he was looking at this machine from a different perspective? Instead of telling the elevator what he wanted to do, what if he was trying to tell the elevator what he wanted the elevator to do.

Confused? Think of it this way – you are on the 11th floor and you want to go down. You need the elevator. You hit the UP button to call the elevator up to you and it arrives to take you down. It makes sense, right?

I get how ridiculous it is to fixate on this. My father-in-law doesn’t care whether he is using the elevator properly. It’s time to let go of this need to understand him or correct him. It’s time to get back to being grateful he is still able to manage this on his own without endangering himself or others.

This need to fix. This need to correct. This need to be right. I can let go of these today.

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About the Author:

Hi! I'm Marci. When I'm not writing, building websites, or coaching clients, I love walking the streets of Japan and discovering spirit in all shapes and forms. Here on the blog, you'll also get a peek into what it is like to live with and care for my Japanese father-in-law who has Alzheimer’s. Enjoy!


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