Category Archives: Equanimity

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.

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.

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.

Is There Really a Choice?

Be impeccable in your word

Don’t take anything personally

Don’t make assumptions

Always do your best.

Don Miguel Ruiz

In yesterday’s post, I made a passing reference to Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements. Is there ever a time when they are not needed? Has there ever been a time when it was easy to practice them?

In these dark days, we know we are not hearing one another. In any conversation, who will put assumptions aside in favor of thoughtful discourse?

Anyone? It’s hard. Often, it does not work. Why make it a practice?

I focus on word choice, aiming for impeccable. I don’t always reach that level. Still, I remind myself that in equanimity there are no enemies. My heart remains open rather than shut tight. I only need a sliver of light.

What I’m saying sounds far-fetched, perhaps impractical. Yet, the few times that I have stood in mindfulness—trusted it–drama was left without a stage on which to play. I fueled no fires.

It has happened enough to reinforce my practice of the Four Agreements, especially on those days when my skin is too thin, and I react rather than respond.

One mistake need not necessitate another, so I am more thoughtful in my word choice. At the very least, it changes up the pace of the conversation or social media commentary.

My recent blog post on childhood and its innocence sparked a comment full of hate, truly vitriolic. The words were so raw I could not take them personally. Neither, could I decipher the reader’s meaning.

It is the kind of spew I see far too often on social media. It does not deserve a response, ever. That said, such hate has always been part of the human experience. The Internet only makes it more immediate.

Our language returns to us, sometimes unrecognizable. We effect change with our word. Do we have a choice other than to be impeccable?

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.

Owning Both Halves of Me

One word can either open a wound or a world. Words stretch into sentences, then stories. We love stories. They show us who we are, no matter what they reveal.

Today, I return to the Cherokee story of the two wolves who live within us. A grandfather tells his grandson about the ongoing battle between good and evil, light and dark.

Always, the wolves hunger and gnaw. The grandson asks what to do. In most versions of this story, the grandfather says you starve one and feed the other.

That never made sense to me.

And then I found a version where the grandfather advises to feed them both. Starving one makes the other uncontrollable. They are two halves of a whole and not two beings stuck in eternal struggle.

I try to feed both; therein, my battle lies.

Putting on the armor of the bodhisattva is to wear the most powerful weapon ever known to existence–compassion–owning both halves of me.

And when I do, I stand with my wolves not in fear but in awe.

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.

A Brief, Shining Moment

This morning, I was going to write all around my heart but that’s no good. Why look for words that no longer work? When life is hard, as it is in this moment, it is tempting to detach but I no longer live that way.

If I did, I would miss the lights of life so bright they can only be brief. Life is impermanent, not easy.

Some months ago I joined a group to do some good, and we are. However, the social media world is awhirl with cyber bullying and stalking. We are not immune nor was the light that brought us together. It must shine elsewhere, now.

Only to the extent that we expose ourselves

over and over to annihilation

can that which is indestructible

be found in us.

Pema Chodron in When Things Fall Apart

I know I must strip away the pain and go to the core of myself, having nothing to hold onto except who and what I am. In such moments, my flaws loom larger than ever, fed by fear. Like everyone else, I am neither all good nor all bad all the time.

In any moment, I’m somewhere on that spectrum—seeking a sliver of light or immersing myself in its brightness. Balance is available in either but no light ever stays.

Maybe that’s what life is, a collection of brief, shining moments, and upon our death, they light our leaving.

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.