No Expectations, Just Experience

Maybe I always believed in “bursting the boundaries.” After 40 years of chronic illness, it seems so. This kind of “resistance” to medical expectations takes a certain amount of naïveté, and I don’t mind admitting that.

It also means staying in the moment, regardless of the experience it offers–no expectations, just experience. And sometimes, I burst a boundary, like today.

I have been released from the care of my orthopedic surgeon who could not be more pleased with my progress. The fracture of my right femur is healing “beautifully” and growing new bone. The hip-joint replacement was pronounced “perfect.”

Medical expectations had been low.

I knew today’s x-ray results would be fine because of how my right hip and femur feel. And the x-rays supported my body’s signals. X-ray is such a wonderful way to look within the body to its structure.

I was reminded of the fusion of bone that is taking place in my neck, even more bone growth. That was not the expectation, either.

As someone with chronic autoimmune disease, I’m not the best candidate for healing, especially with medications like prednisone and methotrexate. Medical skepticism is not unwarranted.

I don’t ignore expectation but it does not occupy my time.

My focus is on what I eat and how I live, in particular my daily practice of meditation and yoga. I stay open to my body’s signals; they are my purpose. Healing will or will not occur.

It is a matter of feeding my body nutrient dense food no matter how I am feeling. In fact, the worse I feel, the more critical nutrition is. A single moment might be one of physical pain, frustration, hopelessness, fear, and fatigue—and it might last days—eating is fuel, food is energy.

Hope drifts in and out of moments. I let it go. I remain present for my pain, intertwining medication with yoga, working with the meditative state in my day-to-day. I meet my energy and even out its fluctuations.

What is the point in yearning for what my body cannot offer? Why not work with what it can? After all, “life always bursts the boundaries of formulas” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).

So it seems, so it seems.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

“The Light of Late Spring”

Today, a Memorial Mass is being said in celebration of my mother’s life, which was one of faith, always. It is what I remember most about her; so often, it guides me. The #LongerView celebrates my mom’s opening of her last door.

As always, the swinging bench awaits.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Somewhere Between Two Shores

Every morning, my meditation starts in storm. New winds beckon my sails; mine is the course to set. In the stillness, my sextant sights.

Sometimes. my ship wrecks but imbalance is impermanent. Like the boomerang, balance will have its return.

The self must settle somewhere two shores.

Make not a bond of love;

let it rather be a moving sea

between the shores of your soul.

(Khalil Gibran)

Sustaining the meditative state is a constant shifting of course, ever mindful of each day’s tides. They are never the same.

Every day, I choose whether to rush inland or to remain offshore, anchor dropped in observation.

Wearying but worth it, this life.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

When the Journey Seems a Jungle

On so many days, the journey daunts. It’s the obstacle. It’s the path. It’s both. You choose the order, if that’s a must for you. Some days I stagger but I also admit to a bit of swagger. Those days cost me more, ultimately.

This day, the journey is loud with “voices I leave behind.” I have miles to go, new voices to know but not all do I let go. A constant companion is Mary Oliver who always seems to know.

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Let Me Be Gracious

I must buy more T-shirts that give people pause. It’s good for them, I think, and I know it’s good for me. It shakes us up.

This morning, I wore my “Nasty Women Project” shirt, more for a color coordinated look than as a statement. I always enjoy wearing it but as often happens, I forget I am until someone notices.

This morning, it was the pharmacy tech who reminded me. She regularly waits on me and usually calls me by name but not this morning. She just kept staring at my shirt.

“Name?”

“Huber.”

She paused before asking, “Karen?” Her tone was one of disbelief.

I could not help but smile but it was just a small one. “Yes,” was my answer. Admittedly, my tone was a bit sing-song.

The tech may not have been crestfallen but she was puzzled. How dare I not be the ailing old woman that she was so sure I was.

To be fair, she has seen me on some pretty rough days but the only conversation we ever had was my giving her the information required to purchase my prescription.

I presented as a new person to her. Maybe I will replace the one she was so sure she knew. Who knows, maybe someday she will surprise me, too.

Let me be gracious when she does.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Upside Down and Inside Out

As I attempt to walk on my own again, my country seeks security somewhere, anywhere. Neither of us is sure of how far to go, much less where.

Yet, it is not our uncertainty that is the problem. We are right where we need to be, “unfolding a new myth” (Rumi).

“Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in Flight to Arras, a novel about the French Resistance in World War II. We know the outcome of that resistance but its success was far from assured.

Yet defeat—death–was preferable to life lived within a formula. Life turns on a dime— it is impermanent–change turns us upside down, inside out. And if we are Aleppo, we are all but obliterated.

“Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection, despite its ugliness.” That is the history of the human spirit, its rising from a story stuck in repeat. We don’t remember our history so we keep writing the same story.

But what if we strayed from that story? What if we accepted that life turns on a dime–always has, always will. We would walk where uncertainty leads. Would that not be the unfolding of a new myth?

Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas.

Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection,

despite its ugliness. I take it for granted that to create a tree

I condemn a seed to rot. If the first act of resistance comes

too late it is doomed to defeat. But it is, nevertheless,

the awakening of resistance.

Life may grow from it as from a seed.

(Flight to Arras, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry )

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Yours For the Taking

This morning, I walked away from my walker without realizing it. I did not return to it immediately. It was a bit of freedom. Why not take it?

Mine is a two-room apartment so this was not a walk for distance or duration but it was a walk with an actual gait. I focused on each step, sensing a rhythm.

Is that what a blur on an x-ray might bring? Rhythm? Is that what “teeny” fusing of donor bone with my vertebrae feels like? I’ve been here before, too aware that such a blur may be in the eye of the beholder.

A year and a half ago it seemed my neck was healing after C2-C4 fusion surgery, only to be later told later no healing was taking place. The neck is the “piece of real estate” that controls my limbs; daily, basic yoga helps me work with the signals they send me.

In all ways, this feels a matter of nerve. Do I have what it takes to believe again? Is that what hope is?  I don’t think any one thing–like an x-ray–can give me hope any more than one person can take it from me.

It is mine to give or not to take. Hope is always available. In every moment, I’m given yet another perspective on the obstacle that is my path. In this moment, it is a blur on an x-ray.

It is not a matter of “getting my life back” for this is my life, this moment right here. I don’t want to miss a moment of it. So, in the early light of this morning, I walked.

As Emily Dickinson wrote, “if your nerve deny you— go above your nerve.” It is yours for the taking.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.