Saturday, May 23, 2015

White Knuckles

Sometimes the walk is longer than the pier
Things don't happen for a reason. Rather, things happen, and then the story I tell becomes the story of my life, and the gorgeous tapestry that materializes is woven of all the threads. It is not that there is a reason, but rather that every moment can be part of the journey to my higher self. In looking backwards I must guard against confusing causality and consequence.

I crowed a few weeks ago about my excellent healing powers, and then had to eat that crow when I went under with an ear infection. I'm on antibiotics and they are working well, but I had a few moments when I was trying to get over it on my own that I got pretty scared. I wondered where the razor's edge is, whether I am more likely than anyone else to slip from superficial infection to fatal brain inflammation.

As I posted in "Are You Listening," my dynamic with my doctors is sometimes a lonely one. Because I do not feel that they are necessarily on my side, in the most important way, I don't always believe that I can trust their advice. Maybe it is because they have gotten used to death. It seems to me that, while they want me to do well, the transplant doctors would rather have me feel poorly for reasons that fit their ideology than to feel well outside their box.

The suspicion that doctors, especially in research institutions, suffer from a profound level of confirmation bias is borne out by the recent statements of the editors of The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine that much medical scientific research is skewed and inaccurate due to myriad conflicts of interest. This is a radical assertion, but the sources are well-positioned to know and history supports the thesis. Once something is an institution, perhaps it is inherently corrupted. The razor's edge is not necessarily a bad place to be.

I don't mind that, really. I expect doctors to be human. I expect politicians to be human, as well as every other human. What I resent is when humans attempt to usurp to themselves super-human personas as keepers of the gates, superior beings who are more capable than others of acting outside of self-interest. An expert is a librarian, calling on an advanced set of tools for presenting the most current information, but they are not always honest with themselves about their filters or limitations. It is difficult to be. Of course, they are perfectly willing to admit to fallibility when called out or caught out, but there is a difference between the silver-tongue that speaks the right words and the heart that is humble.

Humility is a hard thing, too. A person requires a shell to be in the world, something to protect against broken nakedness, and yet I cannot connect, cannot grow, cannot live and die having been in the world as the peace I wish to see without some essential vulnerability that makes me human, and real, and authentic.

I found myself naked, and shaking with joy, one morning. I found that the fear had fallen away. It was as if my ego had shattered and turned into a million prisms. I don't quite know what happened, but I know it happened because my ear was exploding. It would be a mistake to say that my ear had to explode for my ego to splinter, and yet it is accurate to say that the shards of my former suffering have become jewels because my ear exploded.

There is no reason life has to be hard, but sometimes it is.

I was talking to a friend at a party the other day. She is recently divorced, and it has been very difficult. During yoga class, she was doing a perfect head stand, and her instructor came over and said, "When are you going to stop white-knuckling your life?" "But it's a perfect head stand!" she thought. The implication, of course, is that one should just stop clinging, stop hanging on, stop white-knuckling.

Nice work if you can get it.

Sometimes I need to white-knuckle. The trick is to hold the right handle bars, to close that fist around the right thing. It's true that I can make myself crazy, and sick, by clinging desperately to fear, to anxiety, to blame and anger and desire. There is something to grab, though, and hold as tightly as I can. I can trust. I can trust until my teeth rattle. I can trust that the tapestry is weaving itself.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Wallace's Prayer

Every night, Wallace tucks me into bed with this prayer:

Promise nothing bad or scary is going to happen to any of us tonight?
Pinky swear?
Nothing is in this house or is going to be in this house?
Any sounds I hear aren't going to be bad or scary?
It's going to be absolutely fine?
This is the safest place on Earth tonight?
My entire family is going to be perfectly safe and well?
It's going to be absolutely fine?
Okay Mom, Good night, I love you.

And I can answer yes.

I can answer yes.

Let that sink in.

I can answer yes.