After venting my fears yesterday, I was greeted over the next several hours by many words of wisdom and support from friends. It seriously moves me how blessed I am in this regard. Here is one of the responses I sent back to an email I received this morning:
I appreciate the email. In fact, one of the great things through all of this is to realize what sweet and wonderful friends I have, and I feel very lucky for that.
Yesterday was as much about voicing my fear, pain and frustration as anything. Sometimes, we need to give a concrete voice to our concerns rather than push them down and let them fester inside. So that is what I was doing and it makes me feel a little better. I have a trick I sometimes use with myself or that I give in advice to friends when our fears about things get the better of us. It is: Imagine it happens. The very worst thing. Try to really imagine it, then imagine accepting it and dealing with it. This almost always helps, because worse than something concrete happening is often our fear of that thing coming to pass.
And in my case, I had (and have) a lot of fear about the continuing pain, the failure of all I have tried so far, the feeling of being broke and having nevertheless spent 10K dollars on this operation, only for it to be a failure. And the upset at feeling misled by my doctor who promised that this expensive operation would fix my problem once and for all. And also just venting about being worn down from many months of not getting a full night of sleep, because the pain of my shoulder wakes me up.
Giving voice to all of that in my blog was a useful outlet for me, and yet I know and have known all along the lessons to be taken from this. They are the same ones that India gave me, and they have to do with buddhist equanimity and acceptance in the face of what is. It is funny, I feel much more comfortable after that trip with the metaphysical limitations we face. After India, I was no longer afraid of not existing one day, no longer afraid of death per se. My next round of meditation and acceptance training, which I am still working though, has to do with the physical pain and suffering that sometimes accompany our journey here in the world. Interestingly, it is these smaller, more concrete questions which have ended up being more difficult to deal with than the larger issues of the disappearance of self and our eventual annihilation. And yet it is vital to look at them, to lean into the pain as it were, and to come to peaceful terms. This is, of course, a journey and there are many false starts and switchbacks on our way to that place of equanimity. I may not make it there, and I will have days of frustration, but I do know it is where I must head as I get older. I have had some progress in this regard. And I know that being in the here and now with physical hardship is ultimately as important as being in the here and now with existential hardship.
So thanks again for relating your story to me, and thanks for your continued friendship. I hope you know that I am always here for you as you are for me.