Sunday, September 19, 2010

“I Take My Waking Slow”

Entry for 19 Sept 2010:

I am not bored; there is plenty to do, and just the right level of visitors. My main frustration is with the catheter. This has gotten pretty old, especially over the past few days when, as I've gotten more active and find that it holds me back. I don't like this at all! However, it turns out that the catheter is my friend also, for one very important reason: It reminds me, forcefully at times, to go slow, to not try to rush things. This is critical for me at this point, because going slow is exactly what I need to be doing.

This going slow is such a contrast to my normal life, where I often have to rush around from meeting to meeting and sometimes end up being double-scheduled. Deadlines loom, and I feel forced to stay up late to meet them, cheating on my sleep, which isn't healthy. Email piles up, because ordinarily I don't have time to read it during the day. There were over 1000 messages in my inbox when I went into the hospital; it's less than that now, in spite of the time I've spent in hospital and resting at home. So ordinarily, I live under quite a bit of time pressure and feel like I have to do things quickly and not “waste time”.

But it does make me wonder: Was living at such a pressured, fast pace EVER a good idea? It now seems to me that this was one of the most unhealthy aspects of my old lifestyle, creating conditions for the cancer to develop -- or now for it to reoccur. Maybe the slow life I'm living now is actually closer to the way I should be living my life in general. Is there a way to go back to work in a healthy, less pressurised way? I don't have any answers about this, but it seems important to think about.

In the meantime, as Theodore Roethke writes, "I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I know by going where I have to go." I first encountered this line 40 years ago and now I try to take this as my motto to live by. I live in my old gray cotton bathrobe, reminding myself of some kind of celibate Hugh Heffner, but the love that surrounds me is not eros (or more accurately porneia, whence pornography), but rather philia and agape. This is calming; this is what I need; not striving (trishna, in Sanscrit), but letting go of striving, as the Buddha preached. It is a bit of heaven, as I've said before, a gift, a blessing.

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