Why do some people feel compelled to search for the meaning of life while others are perfectly content to accept life as it is?  Is it all connected with happy childhoods?

I’ve been asking myself this all morning.  I’m continually poking and prodding myself and the world around me, I can never leave things alone, just like my hives which are spreading across my body and face, now that I’m off of the prednisone.  Before last week, they got to the point where I spent the entire day agonizing over the itch, imagining worms crawling all over my body, tiny maggots squirming in every bump.  I poked and rubbed my bumps to see which ones were getting larger and which ones, if any, were getting smaller.

On Friday I decided that this has to come to an end.  I decided not to call the doctor and get more, probably different, more powerful, and just as useless, drugs for the problem.  I cranked up the meditating, stopped the ambien that I’ve been using for months for sleep, and went to Whole Foods for healthy foods and vitamins.

Now, I see that the bumps are spreading, but I’m no longer viewing them as worms crawling all over my body.  I need to move past this and get on with my life.  Now I’m viewing every poison-ivy-like-itchy bump as a harmless annoyance that I’m not going to let get the best of me.  Thus the intense meditating, tai chi, chanting of my buddhist mantra, etc.

But back to the topic of my post.  Just like the hives, why do I poke and prod at my life and why am I continually trying to find myself?

How I ended up with John for a husband I have no idea.  He’s not like me at all in this regard.  He never asks “what is life really all about?” he just lives it from day to day, happily.  He’s like my dogs.  He has an innate dharma.  I can never seem to find the one true meaning of life, it’s a daily quesion that continually accompanies me wherever I go.  I need an explanation for everything, I need context, I need understanding.  I need to write about everything, work it out, psychoanalyze it.

What’s with me?

Town Meeting

March 29, 2008

John and I went to the town meeting this morning.  I took out my notebook and started writing about the “fodder”.  High school basketball court, plastic folding chairs lined up with an aisle down the center with a microphone, people lined up to talk to the moderator, blah blah blah.

“Regarding article 57 on the financing of a new floor for the town DPW.  Would this be a new floor that is energy efficient, and why would a new floor cost $12,000?”

“Hi, Paul Shoemaker from 47 Crest Lane here.  I have three questions.  Is the new fire chief’s car used for his commute to and from home or just for work, and have we done a study on cost savings of replacement now versus two years from now if he doesn’t use it for his daily commute?  Those are my first two questions.  And why does he need a new car at 105,000 miles when my car is just being broken in at that mileage?  That is my last question if you can please address them one by one, thank you.”

“On line item 153, you have an expenditure of $250,000 for a new town sewer.  The way I understand it is, if proposition 2 1/2 passes, then we’ll have a 5% increase in property taxes for this item.  If it doesn’t pass, then we’ll have a net savings of 6% on the total overall expenditure.  Is that correct?”

How can one possibly write about a town meeting?  It’s got to be Earth’s most boring community get-together.  I told John that he should go up to the mike and complain that the moderator was only voting nays, and not yays, thus allowing potential illegal double-voters.

Plus, I have another beef.  A fellow co-worker, who is Chinese by citizenship cannot vote at the town meeting even though he is a member of the town and his two children attend school in town.

What about THOSE things, Mr. Town Moderator?

Ah, but such is life in New England.  Town meeting and one’s civic duty, of which I suppose I don’t feel strongly enough about, I’m here to confess.  It’s all about taking the time out to balance your checkbook, but on a much larger, and less immediate personal level.  And who actually balances their checkbooks, even though it’s the fiscally right thing to do.

Memememememe!

March 28, 2008

At exactly this time every year in New England there is a resounding “Mememememememe…!” across the Commonwealth.  People everywhere are holding their index fingers in their ears.  This is the only time that you’ll see complete agreement across peoples and communities everywhere.  It’s a time of solidarity.

“I can’t take it any longer, enough of winter! I’m not listening.  No more, no more, no more, memememememememe , I’M NOT LISTENING!  Mememememememe….!”

And then, in typical New England style, it snows, once again.

“Mememememememememe!”

I went for a walk after dinner tonight to test my back, and happily discovered I’m back to normal.  Back is still free and released.  The waves of euphoria are gone though.  It never ceases to amaze me at how doctors seem so casual to prescribe such noxious drugs.  The prednisone must have triggered some nirvana center in my brain.  I googled it, and don’t see evidence of this side effect anywhere.   It was quite a life-changing feeling, this rush of bliss I felt up my back.  I wonder if the prednisone completely removed my back pain, and with the removal of the back pain came the euphoria — or maybe that feeling of total happiness rushing up my spine is still there, hidden behind the lingering side effects of weaning my body off of the drugs.  I’m anxious to see what happens as the days go on.

My posts make me seem like a bipolar.  When I was single I used to hang out with artist types.  The more psychotic the better, I so admired their creativity.  I decided somewhere along the line that if you weren’t psychotic how on earth could you be creative?  I don’t know exactly what I’m expecting out of my creative self.  I hope it’s not being bipolar, god.  I hope I can be an artist and also be at peace and happy.

Crashing

March 27, 2008

I crashed badly last night.  I didn’t realize it, but for the past week I’ve been on a prescription cream and a prednisone pill for an insect bite allergic reaction.  Both courses of treatment ended on Monday, and Tuesday and yesterday my back pain began to come back with a vengeance.

Last night I went home and found myself consumed with a feeling of hopelessness, a feeling of depression that I couldn’t shake.  I crawled into bed and closed my eyes, my head spinning, for a couple of hours.  I had a feeling that all of the euphoria that I’d been feeling for the past couple of weeks was artificial, caused by the drugs.  It felt like someone had shown me Heaven and then taken it away in a cruel joke, and that feeling filled me with grief.  I told myself to just close my eyes and ride through it, concentrate on getting through the night and then see what tomorrow brings when tomorrow arrives.

I woke up this morning, my body itching all over (after all that I still have the itching), but at least my head wasn’t spinning.  I spent an hour doing my qigong and meditating.  I tried to make sense of the last couple of weeks.

I’m still trying to make sense of them.  As I walked from the car into my building at work, I noticed the waves of euphoria are gone.   I didn’t feel bad.  I felt at peace about everything, thanks to the meditating.  Maybe I can use that taste of Heaven that I was given as motivation to continue to nurture my right brain and my creative self, and to trust that my “chi”– the healing energy inside my body — will cure my itching and my back.

My Shrink

March 25, 2008

I went to see a shrink this morning.  I thought about cancelling it, because I had this cathartic and euphoric release last week where it has been feeling like all of the stress of my entire life has been spilling out onto the ground and leaving me free to move and think as I’ve never done before.

I told John last night that if this had happened in a church or a religion, I would have found a new religion.  Yesterday as I was lying on the table getting my Network Chiropractic treatment done, I found myself floating off into a field of wildflowers with all of the people in the room.  We became children, running free and playing.  I was so moved by the experience that I had to force myself to pull out of it, as I found myself about to break out in tears, it was such a feeling of happiness as I don’t think I’ve ever felt.

 So… my life is transforming before my eyes, thanks to…  something.  Meditation? Network Chiropractic? Tai chi?  qigong? Alexander technique?  My writing? The spirits of the universe?

Whatever is happening, I’ve been given a wonderful vision of this life where I can experience living every day without that type A, left-brained, temper tantrum-prone, stressed out creature.

Anyway, so, I decided to keep my shrink appointment in spite of this epiphany, since I have 8 free shrink visits through a work program.

She was an older woman, about in her 50’s fairly nondescript looking.  On the surface I would have predicted she’d have turned out to be a mediocre therapist.  Looks are so deceiving as I discover time and time again in life.  She was wonderful.

The tact and finesse she showed totally threw me for a loop.  I began talking about mundane things and before I knew it, I was reliving my childhood.  She became someone who “got it”, who understood the confusions and losses that I felt.

I need to continue to go to her, I realize, for my writing if for no other reason.  I don’t want to spend my life writing AROUND my childhood — holding back where it hurts to go.  I want to take that childhood and those feelings and experiences and embrace them as part of my expression.  Until I can flush out all of those thoughts and experiences, though, I won’t have them to use in my toolkit, so there’s a practical reason why it makes sense to go to this person for a while.  Next appointment is next Wednesday morning…

This is my latest homework.  It restricted to 500-750 words, and the requirement was that every paragraph needed to stay on topic as defined by the topic sentence, and paragraphs needed to be connected through transitions.  Not sure if I accomplished this.  There’s a lot more to what I wanted to write, but I had to strip it so that I could remain within the guidelines.  If I continue with the story, I’ll rework it and try to formalize it as a publishable article. 

Two years ago a chronic back pain that has plagued me for most of my adult life pushed itself to the forefront of my existence. After a series of physical and emotional illnesses, the back pain heightened to the point where I was unable to do anything upright without crushing and stabbing pain. This left me unable to work and plummeting towards a life of certain debilitation.

By the time my back pain came to a head, I was taking ten pills a day — pills for various diseases, pills to fight side effects from those pills, and pills to treat the interactions between the two. In spite of these pills, new health problems seemed to appear every month.

I used to think that doctors and modern medicine were the be-all and end-all of medicine. In fact, no less than six different doctors that I saw could put all of my diseases and symptoms together to help me figure out why my health was sliding downhill, and what it all had to do with the flaring up of my back pain.

Out of desperation, I began to seek holistic treatments. I sought every treatment in the book, all at once: acupuncture, reiki, massage, Alexander technique lessons, and chiropractic treatments. Every day I studied the Internet, read books and met with therapists. I began a special diet that helped build the health of my body ecology through probiotics and foods that decreased the acid level in my body. Through this diet and the holistic treatments, I weaned myself off of every single medication that I was taking. I found a physical therapist that specialized in back rehabilitation. Eventually I was able to strengthen my back sufficiently and bring my health back to the level where I could go back to work. That was a year ago.

Over the next eight months I continued to seek solutions to the chronic back pain which had become tolerable, but still was undeniably present on a daily basis.

Out of the blue, within a month of each other, two friends gave me two paths to follow that would lead to a breakthrough in my chronic back pain. The first friend suggested that I do something I’d been talking about for a long time, pursue my writing. The second friend gave me a coupon for a special chiropractic practice that, instead of “cracking” your back, used gentle touch on certain points of your body.

I began my journeys down both of these paths. I began writing and exercising the creative side of myself. For the first time in my life, my right brain began to take a step forward and my left brain, which had dominated me for most of my life, a step back.

I used my chiropractic coupon, and began to get regular chiropractic treatments. My chiropractor suggested tai chi to help my spine, and so I signed up for tai chi classes. Through the tai chi classes, I learned a healing form called qigong.

This week I had a profound breakthrough in my chronic back pain. My back “released” itself, and for the first time, I’ve been able to feel pain-free freedom and euphoria through my lower back when I walk. I sometimes attribute this final breakthrough to the healing qigong, but every single step I’ve made along the way on this journey of recovery has contributed to bringing me to this place of life and well-being.

Life can be filled with peaks that seem impossible. I know. I’ve been there with this back problem. The key to climbing those peaks is to keep yourself focused on just the very next step that you need to get closer. Allow yourself to trust that the universe will support you in this endeavor. Leave yourself open to any and every possibility, no matter how crazy or improbable it seems. Don’t let despair, frustration and loneliness tell you to give up. Because, as I’ve learned so poignantly through this experience, yes, life truly is worth living.

Who are We?

March 23, 2008

Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist.  When she was 37 years old, she had a massive stroke in her left brain. Stroke of Insight: Jill Bolte Taylor on TED.com is a deeply profound recounting of her experience and what she learned about life. She gives perspective to thoughts and feelings that most of us define as reality. I don’t want to ever forget what she’s said here.

Delancey Place

March 21, 2008

I just received this link in my daily word email and had to pass it along.  The site is called Delancey Place.  It is a daily non-fiction book exerpt or quote.  The first two entries I read blew me away, so I had to share the site.

I must be a Buddhist, although I don’t think there’s any such thing, unless you’re a Buddhist monk or the Dalai Lama.  I belong to an online “sangha”.  It’s a Yahoo mailing list.  No one ever posts except one person, who posts dharma stories.  He once posted a poll asking how many people followed the precepts.  I was the only one who said that I didn’t follow the precepts (’cause there was only one person who voted that way — must have been me :P).  I wonder if it’s possible for anyone in our western society to say they follow the precepts and be telling the truth?  I strive to follow them, for sure.  But there are still stumbling blocks I have, so I can’t truthfully say I follow them.

Still, my heart goes out to Tibet and dilemma of the Dalai Lama.  What would the world be like with the extinction of probably the last culture on Earth whose very existence revolves around the concept of peace?