Several weeks have passed since I have subjected you to my fumbling consciousness.
Of course, that’s in chronological terms. In psyche terms, it felt like a geologic age. For I fell sick with a nasty strain of pneumonia which forced me to take quite an interior journey.
When one is practically unconscious for days on end, what else is one to do with one’s mind anyway?
One of the odd things from my mental walkabout were annoyingly persistent dreams of going to China again and again… and again. Now, I sport a particularly morose set of Norwegian genes, and the closest I ever got to China was this nifty iPad (yes, whom I’m going to marry, for all you who keep telling us to get a room) upon which I hunt and peck.
So China? WTF? Guess it’s a question for another time.
The next thing I will never forget is the blessing of sheer, physical pain.
See, I couldn’t read anything for the longest time, so listened to audiobooks… 3 Buddhist books, 1 guilty pleasure spy novel, 3 more Buddhist books, etc. But The Untethered Soul had a passage about how I’m not my pain… but rather how I am the one who observes my pain.
Oh sure, sounds like Mindfulness 101 to you guys, but for me, as nuclear coughs threatened to tear me limb from limb as surely as Torquemada’s Inquisition racks popped joints and rent sinew, focusing on the simple truth of me watching the pain helped more than all the expensive drugs.
And spending long stretches where it was about as easy to breathe as if I were being water-boarded, concentrating on the explosions of light in my brain was nearly blissful, albeit in perhaps a sadistic way, but what other choice did I have?
It’s odd, before being thus stricken, I would count a half-hour session as a job well done. But being laid out gave me the chance to drift in and out of mindfulness all day… so… kind of a luxury from a certain perspective.
I was able to see more clearly what a waste my life has been in advertising. What a total fucking waste. I might as well have spent it making those little plastic thingys on the end of shoelaces. No offense to the makers of little plastic shoelace tips, hey, someone’s gotta do it.
That, in turn, filled me with rage at myself for being so venal. Good thing Salzburg’s Metta writings were a rope tossed down to me in this hole. A rope which I’m climbing very carefully.
Additionally, one of my heroes is my long-suffering Buddhist therapist (kind of my own Tara Brach). After spending time with her, like Saul on the road to Damascus, I had the revelation that I really wanted to be a therapist like her — minus the dress — when I grew up.
Then I realized I was already grown up. Fine, way past.
Then I realized that the best I could hope for was a do-over. Don’t we get a certain number of do-overs to redeem during our time on this planet?
So I spent the last year-and-a-half trying to get accepted into a local masters program for counseling & development. And lo, it came to pass that I somehow actually did manage to squeak into said well-respected program, starting in June (just waiting for them to realize their mistake).
And now that I can read again, I’m voraciously devouring the first two textbooks for the first two classes, rolling in the words like a colt on spring grass.
So even though I’ve no idea how to pay for it yet, that thought alone – of being given a second chance to rewrite my future – gave me a star to steer by in the darkness of the past few weeks. I know I’m supposed to live in the present but I also love having a higher purpose for which to strive instead of doing another Super Bowl commercial.
Seriously, how much damned Pepsi am I supposed to sell, anyway?
I’m rambling. Hey, I’m still pretty doped up so I have an excuse.
Sorry if my wit may not be as rapier-like as some of you may hoped, but I just wanted to check in as the unpronounceable meds fade and ‘reality’ takes hold once again. Also, to provide a new entry for all those kind, patient and beautiful souls who have requested such — sorry to leave you hanging.
From now on, this illness has essentially given me asthma as a lovely parting gift to fondly remember it by, but at least I made it through the worst of the pain and the whole not breathing thing, which can seriously annoying.
So for my next post, which I’ll now have to squeeze in between studying Multicultural Counseling for one class and Psychological Appraisals for another, I hope to regain my snarky sea legs.
But in the meantime, perhaps just one more inexplicably random dream of a China I never knew…