I closed my last post with a mention of the “three treasures” from the Tao Te Ching. They could just as easily be called virtues, qualities, or characteristics. My own valuation of these three is not because of the book in which they are found; one could find these three things in any list of worthy attributes. But after a lot of reflection, I agree with the author that it’s hard to think of any that are greater. From these, every other worthy thing follows…
Healing is hard. Not necessarily as in hard work (although it certainly can be depending on what you’re healing from) but more in the way of giving oneself the time and space in which to do it. I’m finding out that I’m… not very good at it.
This is odd, because I was told I was a great patient at Vanderbilt. Then I got home, and have been going a little stir crazy. I had a list of things I was going to do while at home, ways to relax I haven’t done in a while. Old TV shows queued up on Netflix to watch, books to read, giving myself time to just do nothing and take what would actually be the longest “vacation” of my adult life. But that’s not what happened. Old TV shows aren’t nearly as good as you remember them to be (I got 2/3 of the way through one Mission:Impossible episode and decided I didn’t care how it ended) and I’ve only managed to read a bit more in one book I had started weeks ago. It’s not that I didn’t get anything done, it’s that I haven’t relaxed in any of the ways I thought I would. Which is a bummer (especially the lack of reading) because the time at home recuperating is just about up. But I suppose that’s not the point. The time was spent how it was spent, and I’m recovering well. One of my discharge instructions was to work up to walking a mile a day. I started with a mile and a half and am now easily doing three. That’s a much more meaningful goal than progress made in front of a television.
If there’s a lesson to be had here, at least for me, it’s that patience is needed with oneself most of all. And it’s that much harder to be patient with others if you don’t start there first.
One thing I did get done, one of my while-you-were-out projects, was further streamlining of my desk. In a previous post I had managed to get from this…
Clicking on any picture will give you a larger version, if you’re into that sort of thing and/or morbidly curious
Of course, simplicity is about more than the number of things on your desk or the clutter in your closet. Simplicity of mind (NOT to be confused with anti-intellectualism) means to be just as diligent in regard to the quantity and quality of things that end up between your ears. Judicious use of that space leaves it more open for yourself and for others.
Plato once said-
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
This quote has slowly sunk in over the past few months. I’m not entirely sure how much my surgery has to do with that. But there is something about lying in a hospital bed with all kinds of activity going on around you that gives you an eye-of-the-storm perspective. You can see everyone’s worries and concerns. You can tell what kind of day the nurse or CP who has just come on shift has had, even if they aren’t intentionally broadcasting it.
It also helps to understand that what may seem like tension on the part of your loved ones is really concern for you, mixed in with all the other things they may be worried about.
Compassion, then, becomes a very useful attribute. Not from others, but from the person who you’d think would need it most from others. And just as with patience, compassion towards oneself is sometimes needed most of all; do not underestimate your own hard battles.
In terms of “how things went” the surgery was a great success. Dr. Petracek was able to repair my mitral valve, which is quite a feat as it was in even worse shape than expected. He told Lynn that I “would not have done well for very much longer.” Which to me is perfect timing, and exactly the same way I treat car ownership: drive it until the wheels fall off. Of course, it helps that he is one of the top 2 or 3 surgeons in the world at valve repair. The amount of flow in the wrong direction is now zero, demonstrating that in some situations, nothing is the best result of all.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for being here. You are wonderful.