Everything in our bodies is interconnected; I couldn’t tell you specifically and scientifically how some of the feedback loops work, but I can see that they do work together.
My doctors tell me they do. Which is interesting because it’s so rare to have any of those doctors talk to one another. They will all talk to me about how the major organs are connected or the nerves connected to the eyes, and the heart, and on and on. Once, when I needed surgery, one specialist wanted to communicate with my cardiologist. He needed to perform a procedure and he didn’t want me to “die on his watch.” Whew. So glad he talked to the heart guy. And look, here I am. I’m still here.
If a doctor tells me he’ll back me up 100% when I try medical cannabis for the pain that nothing else will relieve, then I’ll grab that advocacy, those tender mercies in both hands. No, really. I’m not being entirely ironic, I mean it. Thank you, Doc.
And I’ll take advocacy where I can find it.
In this body there’s an ongoing series of lessons on the impermanence of life.
When I was younger, I really expected different outcomes at this point in my life. We all do. Like someone said, it’s the difference between what we expected and what showed up at the door. That’s the story of my life.
I’ve never spent much time deeply pondering the path. I’ve pondered deeply while on the path but not so much the path itself.
I just have tended to go.
I threw my bags in the car and drove from Ohio to the California beach with a young love. He had a job waiting, I didn’t. We had the where-with-all that 21 year olds in that day needed. And we were fine.
Some years later I woke up in the morning next to another young love and we drove to Long Beach and married later in the day.
I had eight children, one by one, and grew a small farm and birthed and taught my babies and youngsters at home, one year at a time.
I wrote some columns on unschooling and science for home educators. I gave some childbirth classes.
I became an archaeologist and embraced all that entailed (and it really did entail a lot) because I happened to fall in with a group of archaeologists who wanted me to join them.
I neglected every signal flashing and every buzzer buzzing as my marriage slipped through my hands over the course of I don’t even know how many years.
My father may have called me heedless at some points in my life and he was mostly right about that. If it’s possible to be heedless about some parts of your path and mindful about other parts, that has been my way.
Watershed moments that tugged me closer to mindfulness, closer to sitting with the moment?
Losing our first micro-farm and the dream attached to it. Deciding to confront the lies and deceptions surrounding me, beginning about 2000, maybe. That didn’t really bear any fruit for at least a decade though, if then. I used to be very good at not facing some of the facts. When all those chickens finally came home to roost, I think I changed some of my ways.
A virus damaging my heart. Yes, definitely a watershed moment. The inability to find the kind of work I was trained for after one final trip back to the church of the higher mind, for that final piece of paper. Uh huh. And being smacked by a chronic disease with equally chronic pain. Yep.
So. Everything changes.
I have a book on my Kindle whose title is something like “Aging as a Spiritual Practice.” It’s not a bad book, as Buddhist-oriented books about aging go. It doesn’t put me off by a too-heavy handed “self-help” flavor. And it doesn’t piss me off by featuring too many well-heeled older people who have ample choice and keep saying “it’s not just about the money.” For some of us, a little more of the money might make a little less of the suffering.
(Maybe I’ll change how I feel about that last sentence given a little more time. Maybe I’m wrong. And I am very grateful for the Affordable Care Act. Yes, I pay a premium for my youngest offspring and myself. Yes, it can get frustrating, the bureaucracy. But, oh what a difference from being uninsured for all that time.)
All the things I’ve put off sitting with are surrounding me now, as I grow older.
Moment by moment, breath by breath. The sunlight on my face. New colors revealed to me after my first eye surgery. Wow.
I want to focus more. I want to be less heedless.
I’m trying to find that thin line between living mindfully with pain and the relentless suffering that can come with pain. Pain, suffering, all of it has to do with being human.
Life is never really simple. Not for anyone.