We’re all just walking each other home.
— Ram Dass
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
To be brutally honest, I am often brave. Getting through the day with chronic migraine knowing you’ve got it all to go through again and again is far braver than anything else I have ever done, I do it often and I tend to do it alone, without any witness. I appreciate people who really see me suffer because even that experience is ineffable once it is past.
On the other hand, what looks brave might not really be brave. While ordinary acts like leaving the house might take real gumption, I, for instance, rather relish public speaking whenever I get the opportunity. Yes, I was physically ill the first time I gave a lecture, but the buzz is amazing and ‘nerves’ are really the same thing as excitement.
Acts of kindness can feel brave – one does not know in advance how they will be received. I think I was fairly brave to volunteer to visit a senior Buddhist Order Member who had had a stroke – I thought he would quite possibly find me naive and annoying. As it turned out it was a teacher I knew from my earlier days of learning meditation, and I had rather a good rapport with him but I didn’t walk into the hospital knowing it would be him. And I certainly didn’t expect to ‘get’ anything from the experience, but I did. He was an amazing man. While he was teaching there was this one time when he said he couldn’t remember which meditation he should be teaching and he mentioned in passing that this was probably because he had a brain tumor. I didn’t see him for a few weeks, so when I did see him I was relieved that he was alive! I asked about the tumor. He said that he had probably had it for years, but that it had only been recently diagnosed because he’d blacked out and someone thought to look. It seems that when he was younger he found it difficult to read, and was considered rather dim. His story humbled me so much, and heartend me, too. I’d just recovered from several months of near constant brain fog, after my health tanked and I had been signed off from my job. I couldn’t even follow radio or TV programmes, I just had the radio or TV on for company. I had really prized intellect in my former life, and considered my brain to be my best investment. Yet it didn’t save me from becoming ill. I was so relieved to find something I could learn that rather bypassed brain work, and to meet someone so very wise who was intellectually challenged.
When he died he had fallen out of bed. At the head of the bed was the commode that he used. It is entirely possible he spent his terminal moments on this earth with his face on rather a grubby carpet with a view of the underside of his toilet. For some people this would be a very upsetting experience, but I wasn’t in the slightest bit worried for my friend.
At the funeral there was an open coffin. It was the first time I had seen a dead body. I really wanted to get close and have a good stare, but I didn’t dare. A lot of people spoke about how he had been rather a harsh teacher, but that wasn’t my experience of him. To me he was only ever kind. I can only imagine he approached people on a case by case basis. His sister was too upset to attend, but his niece managed to say a few words on her behalf. She spoke about how, one new year’s eve, he had suggested a bike ride – the pair of them rode their bikes into the new year. What a lovely imagination he had, and what a lovely memory for his sister. I sat with the niece after the funeral and we talked for a while. Afterwards I received a letter from the sister, and wrote back as best I could. We wrote back and forth for a short while.
As well as being a sobering experience, spending time with him in his final days was such an honour.
I was looking for a quote to share with you and found myself collating an enormous collection of them;
click through for lots of thoughts from lots of different sources.
How many Hindenburgs?
Today is kind of a Category 2 Hindenburg. Last night I realized that if I didn’t take a triptan before I went to sleep I’d be waking up migraining like crazy and have to spend all day dealing with things from that starting point, and that tends to mean I have to tread gently on the next day. Not just that, though, I am extra tired possibly because you can nip the pain in the bud, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are not having the migraine. There’s a lot more to migraine than headache.
So, while I have a little rest and listen to Front Row here’s a picture of Poppet I took yesterday.