Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

waiting games ~

Some time today or tomorrow, I will receive a phone call that will — or won’t — change my life. It’s not often you reach a juncture where you know that what just happened, or what happens next, is life changing. But today or tomorrow, a nurse (or possibly a doctor) will call, and let me know if I have a bad tonsil (since removed) — or something worse. I will either go forward  with healing (just FYI: adult tonsillectomies suck) or make a different set of plans.

That’s kind of humbling, if you think about it. And it makes the passage of time quite different. A definitely ‘altered’ state…It makes the tumble I took in the garden hose no less painful (you should see my goose egg!), but it’s still the whole interlude state-of-mind that I wrote about previously.

Once, many years ago, I stood in front of a wall of glass, watching a plane depart. I knew even as it left that my life would be irrevocably changed because we couldn’t catch it. Even a week later, after working w/ national authorities to have my elder son airlifted w/ others out of a war zone, life was not the same. Ripples from that missed plane kept me from joining my husband, sent me back to graduate school, turned me (ultimately) into a teacher…  The after-effects are large. Had I caught the plane? No telling, but that life would not have been this one.

And that’s what I tell myself today, as the phone doesn’t ring. By now, it probably won’t. Tomorrow. Tomorrow is soon enough. This moment is okay ~


subjective time & mortality (& tonsils…) ~

It’s been a month of contrasts: highs, lows, roller coaster turns in between. It began on vacation (hence the hiatus in posts) in lovely Oregon ~ upper 60s, creamy sunlight, roses everywhere.

Then back to Oklahoma, where temps were 40 degrees hotter (yep — we hit 117˚this month!). And then things got hectic…

A week ago, I was celebrating my retirement. A lovely party at one of my favourite downtown restaurants, full of people I’ve come to think of as extended family. Cards, presents, even proclamations! How lucky is that? Then in to the doctor to have a look at a spot on my right tonsil…

Here’s the deal: when a doctor puts his fingers in your mouth and gets this grave look? Well, I’m thinking that can’t be good…And when he says, ‘This needs to come out. Now.’ …?  You just nod. And make arrangements.

Fast forward 48 hours, and I’m recovering from an emergency tonsillectomy. LESS than a week after my retirement party. (There seems something intrinsically wrong w/ that sentence.) The doctor has made no promises, and I won’t know for sure until early this week, but we’re hopeful it’s not cancer. The C word, my mother’s generation always called it. As if to call it by name was akin to speaking the name of Voldemort, for a younger one…

In the meantime, as the doctor warned, a tonsillectomy for a grown-up is NOT child’s play… It hurts. And I’m not a brave warrior, just FYI. :) I don’t like pain, mine or anyone else’s. But somehow, I’m enduring it better knowing that this is, possibly, an interlude. This time of swilling the lovely Darjeeling tea a dear friend’s mother brought me from India, poured into a gurgling red fish pitcher another dear friend gave me… I’m managing it far better than I would have thought. Nausea (my least favourite side effect of surgery!), pain, fever… I’m managing. I’m thinking it’s the whole imminent mortality thing…

Because here’s the deal: I’ll know probably by Tuesday. And though I hope for good news, there’s always the chance it won’t be. And this is about as immediate a brush w/ ugliness as I’ve had in quite some time. Totally unexpected, not a joint replacement (done that). Not a dying parent (been there). Not the threats of unhappiness that dog much of human life on a daily basis.

Nope. This is the C word, unless it’s just tonsillitis. But I won’t know for a couple of days. So I’m glad for these moments. I am drinking my tea (carefully!). And listening to rain, when it falls (like music, if you think about it…). And living very decidedly in this interlude of pain that is, for the moment, enough. I’m thinking it’s good for a beginner’s heart…

tea and blondes: a story of hanging out ~

I’m visiting my best friend — my ‘bff,’ as my students say. So far, we’ve crammed weeks of being together doing what we love into the six days we’ve had together. We’ve gone to pick up berries (blue, black- and rasp-, not to mention Oregon kotatas). We’ve had tea, Tillamook ice cream, and tonight is fresh-caught crab (this morning’s crab pots). We’ve hit the Latimer Textile Museum (stealing the 2 most fragrant roses you can imagine, from the parking lot!), the Farmer’s Market, the Tea Room, and the shoe & jewelry store.

We motored up the coast, hitting at least 6 vintage resale shops. We watched young goats jockey for status, and courting bluebirds, while our husbands caught us fish & crab for dinner. But best of all, we just hung out.

There is not enough homage paid to hanging out. To the quiet conversations that evolve over picking crab, or sitting in the rare Tillamook sun. People need time to just be. To breathe. It’s one reason tea is a sacrament in Japanese Buddhism, and a ritual in many other cultures. Tea allows you to relax. To breathe. To just hang out. I can hang out over tea — especially w/ my girlfriends — for hours. It’s my favourite meal, the one I can’t mess up, since any time spent drinking good tea is (by definition) good. And if you add engaging  conversation, a few nibble-ish goodies, and a brilliant afternoon…? What’s better?

I wish I could offer tea and hanging out breaks to all the hectic people I know. I wish I could send them huge pots of a good black tea, their perfect cup to drink it from, and the company of someone who makes them laugh, listens to them, and loves them unabashedly. I’m sure it would cure all the ills of the world, if people would just hang out together. Preferably over tea. Taking time to breathe, to inhale the fragrance of tea, and just be. It’s my prescription for world peace: put people together over tea. And let them just hang out ~

 

ashes to ashes… we all fall down ~

Two friends who attend my church — or at least what I think of as ‘my’ church, despite not attending it w/ any degree of frequency! — lost their nephew today. Lost him in a pool of dark red blood on a white concrete driveway, the victim of a drive-by shooting. Yesterday his father sat outside the house, waiting as police went about the official business of death, of murder. Of the kind of American business that is a plague on too many of our houses.

Why are we killing each other? And why do we feel that our ‘right’ to carry guns w/which to kill each other trumps our right to enjoy our young?

I’m not against hunting. I still eat red meat, so it would be hypocritical to be against taking on the karma of the death of my food. But somewhere along the chronology of killing our food, we began to believe it’s our right to access killing guns. And I can’t believe that’s a religious virtue. No religion says ‘arm yourself.’ No faith that I’m familiar with takes death lightly.

I’m asking you, as a pacifist, a Buddhist, a mother of sons (the major demographic ~ young American males): lay down your guns. Fight back non-violently: write Congress and tell them your faith precludes this reliance on guns as ‘protection.’

Want protection? Feed the hungry and they will have far less reason to steal. Help the hurting and they will be far less likely to hurt you first. Heal the sick. Breathe for those in pain. And forgive. It’s not wimpy . It’s compassionate. And don’t we need more of that than more death?  Because one death isn’t just one of us ~ it’s all of us. Donne was right. None of us are islands. Ashes, ashes… and we all fall down…

Previous Posts

more wonderings about (today's) Puritans, and a broken education system
Today I was thinking -- again -- about the similarities between contemporary conservative Christianity (at least in everyday life) and historic

posted 4:48:45pm Sep. 19, 2014 | read full post »

measuring up
Rarely do I feel inadequate, like I don't measure up. If that sounds overly confident, I don't mean to. It's just that I don't normally spend a lot of time comparing myself to others. From a very early age I knew my life wasn't like most American kids, so while I may have wished I had a different

posted 5:25:45pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

letting go, or, what teaching teaches
You know that old joke about giving a party and nobody comes? Well, for presenters, it's a truism. I've given workshops w/ only one person (and she left early!). Last night, however, was a new one, even for me. A

posted 4:57:15pm Sep. 17, 2014 | read full post »

afternoon break
I should be working on the presentation I'm giving in...oh, 3 hours. :) I should be figuring out what to fix for dinner before I go. I should... I should. Instead, tea break. A cup of good ol' house tea -- Panyang Congou from Harney's, And plain vanilla macarons from the Whole Foods bakery. Bl

posted 4:51:14pm Sep. 16, 2014 | read full post »

health, gadgets, and technology
I am NOT good at the boredom of keeping healthy. I blew my knees running. My joint replacement put paid to treadmilling. I hate my recumbent bike (and no, I don't know why, except that it's boring). So cardi

posted 12:14:13pm Sep. 15, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.