Enlighten Me

A m clouds

You are on one side of a closed door.  There are other rooms on the other side of the door.  You can’t see them, but you know they are there.  When you were traveling through the space between sleeping and waking, you remember having been on the other side of the door.  But you can’t quite remember when that was.  Was it last night?  Was it last light?  Was it last life?

That is the mystery of Easter, the answer to how a human can enter death, a final destination that turns out not to be.  Time can be re-written.  Hate can be transformed into love.  Nothing stops.  Change is a form of exchange.  We go from one place to another and take on new disguises.

Posting here on the blog is a real pleasure.  I enjoy doing it very much.  Lately I’ve had responsibilities take priority over doing just as I like.  We’ve been preparing our taxes.  Does anyone find that fun?  I don’t.  It’s a matter of civic responsibility, and it does make us feel very grown-up so we do it, but it’s a complex chore.  The US tax code isn’t simple, and we engaged a local accountant for the first time.  They don’t understand our lives like the previous one did, and getting a new tax professional is as detailed a process as establishing yourself with a new doctor.  We have IRAs and 401ks, income from wages, performance residuals, investments, and fees we earn managing the affairs of Mary’s 102 year-old aunt.  We have charitable contributions to account for, and the costs of continuing medical education required to maintain my licenses.  I don’t net enough to have to pay, and Mary makes too much.  I’m happy to let someone else make a living figuring it out.

Spice, our former puppy now in “finishing school”, continues to excel in the process of qualifying as a guide dog for the blind.  She’s in the fifth of the final ten phases of training.  Within six weeks we could be attending her graduation, and ritually handing her over to her new owner.  In the evening I used to sit on the floor with her, holding her head between my hands.  I would speak in a low, calm voice, telling her how important the things she was learning would be in her new life.  She probably had no idea what I was talking about.  She may have recognized it as “the routine we do at the end of the day”.  However, she liked it, and when I finished talking she would give me one little lick on the beard and trot off happily to bed.  I’ll remember moments like that for as long as I live.

The past 40 days, leading to Easter Sunday, comprise a traditional liturgical period for Christians known as Lent.  It commemorates the period Jesus spent fasting in the desert, tempted (or tested) by “the devil” (or confronted by his own doubts), prior to beginning his public ministry.  I have been doing some fasting too, looking at my own insecurities and fears.  I have been using a quote from Thomas Merton as a mantra when I walk and think: “Let no one hope to find in contemplation an escape from conflict, from anguish, or from doubt.”  I want my struggles to make me more vulnerable, more sensitive, more open to the suffering in everyone else’s lives.

At the Urgent Care clinic, we decided to sponsor a weight-loss program for those of our patients who might benefit. For our genuinely obese patients, losing weight can be a life changer.  It can reduce or even eliminate their need for diabetes and blood pressure medication.  Five of us on staff are acting as guinea pigs.  This program has pre-mixed meal packets you consume three times a day during weight loss.  You choose any lean protein for dinner, and lunch and dinner include 2 cups of approved veggies.  You have to drink extra water on top of what you have with meals, to facilitate lipid breakdown. I’ve lost 12 lbs. in three weeks, and my energy has increased.

The weather is in San Francisco mode; fog, overcast or drizzle in the mornings, a bit of sun in the afternoon and clear, breezy nights.  Big, fat robins are bob-bob bobbin’ a-long.  It was a mild winter, so the deer population is up.  The Farmer’s Market re-opens April 6th.  When the sun rose, the mountains were floating above the fog, detached from the Earth.  I wish all of you could feel as light as I do right now.

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23 Comments

Filed under Metaphysics

23 responses to “Enlighten Me

  1. My nephew took time out from college and worked for a small, organic farm for more than a year. He told me that eating a sprig of fresh spinach there gave him more energy than eating meat. Since fasting seems to be a common practice in so many cultures/religions, there must be many health benefits to it, but I really don’t know since I’ve never tried it myself.

    • I sure hope that’s true. I’m consuming barrels of spinach, broccoli and cauliflower compared to my normal diet! (I added 30 unnecessary lbs. over the past three years eating at all the fab cafes in my new home town.) Thanks for your addition to the discussion.

  2. Dear Mikey,
    I have been to the same thing. I’m no number cruncher but business year end and tax calculations have eaten up this month. Like you I had to arrange my priorities so what I did not like to do became priority number 1.

    It’s seems that the time you have had with Spice has just evaporated, though I know that’s only my perception. Only 6 weeks left – wow!

    I’m re-energizing after a lay-off and sending your well wishes re: lean cuisine. 12 lbs loss in 3 weeks is impressive.

    I hope you have a lovely long weekend. I’m spending mine recuperating and hopefully catching up on commenting.

    Love and peace

    • Amazing how some people thrive on all that bean counting, column arranging and all, isn’t it? With practice I’ve found I can do it, but enjoy it? Never. Still, congratulations to us both. We’ve done the responsible thing, so we can get back to the parts of life that matter more.

  3. It is a mystery, isn’t it…moving through one door into another. I’m beginning to appreciate that more and more and realize not knowing is knowing indeed!

    I’m impressed by your willpower and weight loss! I would like to follow suit.

    Wishing you well!

    • HA! If I had willpower I wouldn’t have amassed the extra “mass” in the first place. (It’s a lot of fun to get fatter eating at all the popular places in a new town.) I have always been active enough, so all it needed was a readjustment of fuel intake. The “car” starts burning off the excess. You pee a lot more often than ordinary. That’s the only discomfort I’ve had, and it’s easily relieved. Any diet based on carb/fat restriction, 30% more protein, 4-6 smaller meals/day to increase metabolic rate, and extra water to wash away lipids as they liquify – will work. I’m using a brand called Ideal Protein now, but I used Lindora back in 1999.

      I’m glad you understood that stuff about the mysterious doors. That’s hard to explain. I wrote that immediately after waking up early. Thanks for peeking in, Sandra.

  4. Michael, I love this blog. I also liked the one about the CPR incident which I don’t remember reading before.

    I am an active member of a UCC congregation although I confess that I cannot say that I believe in the virgin birth or the Resurrection. Last week, my cousin, Bobbie, who is a conservative Episcopalian, er – Anglican, was astonished that I did not clearly believe in this two tenets of traditional Christianity. I told her that they were both beyond my comprehension so i was not going to worry about it. She then asked me if I wasn’t willing to die for these beliefs. My response was that I was not ready to die to defend these beliefs, but that i would put my life on the line for her right to believe as she wished. Meanwhile, I continue to go to church almost each week. Fortunately for me, in my UCC congregation, at the beginning of the service, the minister welcomes “all who are believers, doubters, and seekers. Join us for fellowship.” And this morning I took my 20 month-old grandson into the sanctuary between services to see the altar, the flowers, the stained glass windows and then for the first few minutes of the service so that he could hear organ music and also see the choir sing in front of the congregation and watch the choir director swing her arms (we sat in the first pew and left when they returned to the choir section). I want these things to become normal to him. Later he can decide as he wishes, but he must know the stories. As my 8 year old son once said to me after our usual bedtime Bible story, “Do you expect me to believe these stories?” My reply was, “No, but I expect you to know them.”

    • I couldn’t ask for more than to have you enjoy reading, Susie. I’m constantly re-evaluating the information in teaching stories from the different religions I know, but I don’t doubt their value as part of the process of acquiring wisdom. The ones that have endured all have layers of value to peel back and learn from. For me there isn’t any “single” truth, but the things I haven’t been able to discount are few in number. Love has transformative power. Kindness is always appropriate. There’s no such thing as a complete defense, but there’s also no need since life can’t be permanently extinguished. What is true is true across all cultural, psychological or biochemical borders. Stuff like that.

  5. galenpearl

    I’ve noticed your absence. Glad to see a new post, and to get an update on Spice. I look forward to photos from her graduation. How exciting. You must be proud of her. And of course proud of the good start you gave her in her training.

    The article was wonderful as always, and you gave a bonus in your response to Susie above. Personally, I believe there is a single truth, but it is beyond words and mental images. It is, as the Tao Te Ching says, the beginning of heaven and earth. Once we clothe this truth in mental images and words, in beliefs if you will, then we are looking at the “ten thousand things.” No one is more true than another, and in that sense, I agree with you that there isn’t a “single” truth. We can use whatever language or images that are meaningful to us and try to share those with others, as we also listen and respect their offerings to us.

    • Maybe there is a single truth, and I don’t know what it is. I’m more comfortable with not needing life to make sense all the time than I used to be. Over time I get very different perspectives on the things I have lived through. Lots of contradictions and mystery. That’s more fun! I know less of “the answers” than I did at 20 ;) Thanks for making me feel I was missed.

  6. Mikey,

    How have you been? I hope a little more visible than usual?

    Ghost.

  7. Hey, thanks very much for dropping by my blog and Liking it.
    You are quite an eclectic fellow – almost eclectic enough to be …invisible.
    Heh.
    I’ll visit again – hope you’ll do the same, hermano.

  8. coccinelle16

    “You are on one side of a closed door. There are other rooms on the other side of the door. You can’t see them, but you know they are there.” I liked this. I also like the weight loss program, I am going to copy and paste it to a friend who is struggling with this. Safe for most?

    • Yes. Medical weight loss programs are safe for most because they involve a doctor to adjust for your own needs and conditions. This isn’t the only good program, and they all work on similar principles: multiple, small meals with a higher ratio of protein to carbs during weight loss, and extra water consumption. I’ve now lost 18 lbs in 6 weeks, comfortably, without feeling hungry or deprived.

      Thanks for dropping by, and I’m glad you enjoyed reading.

  9. coccinelle16

    I sent her the suggestion. Thanks for sharing that. 18 pounds is extraordinary, just wow. Yes, I really enjoyed reading.

    The pleasure was all mine. :)

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