A Yankee's Musing

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I Wonder....

What are the ramifications to our society when everyone seems to be walking and riding around with earphones connected to i pods, or cds, or wireless phones? Will our primary focus be on hearing rather than seeing? Will the number of car accidents rise? Will the number of muggings increase? Will all awareness of what is going on around us disappear? I wonder these things when I see,(and hear), and increasing number of people doing just this, totally absorbed into whatever is funneling into their ear/s at the moment. Will people become even more isolated from each other or numb to anyone beyond themselves?

Last night as the B train crossed the Manhattan Bridge, I looked out at the East River---to the East at the starkness of the clouds and dark blue of the sky behind the Queensborough and Triborough Bridges and ports along the Brooklyn shore, and to the West the sunset's colors just beginning to show behind the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty. I looked around the car: people clearly from all over, very NYC and part of the wonder of this crossroads of the world. Corny, but so evident and I felt priveleged to be here. And then the guy to my left started screaming obscenitites. I was ready to move to the other end of the car, then I saw he was on a phone that only has service for a few minutes until we disappear again in the tunnel beneath Chinatown. A rap song suddenly to my left--someone else has a call to answer. I look around. Over half of the people are attached to one device or another. I wonder what would happen if an emergency happened and the conductor or engineer had a message helpful to us to save ourselves? Only theory I guess, not a practical concern because the speaker system would probably be impossible to understand even with two available ears. And I wonder what would happen if one of the passengers needed help and screamed? Would anyone hear? Well, perhaps if we made lots of frantic motions. But what if it was a heart attack and the passenger merely passed out silently? Would anyone notice? And if anyone did notice, would they finish listening to their song, or their phone conversation, before acting thereby putting the emergency "on hold?"

"On hold", interesting term. Kind of goes with pressing the "pause" button, or "slo-mo replay," or checking "caller i.d." These terms have become realities in our society, and even more, have become second nature. And as such, they become automatic and unconscious. And so, if we can stop and pause and replay, do these actions that have become a habit and expectation become the norm? Does this mean we believe we have such control over our actions that we lose our ability to react?

And who cares? Is this of any concern to anyone, or is it simply the pissed off ramblings of someone who accidentally dropped her cellphone in the toilet yesterday?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Refinding my Power

I've beem reading An Open Life--Joseph Campbell in Coversation with Michael Toms. Here are a few excerpts that struck home for me today.

--"...mythology tells us that where you stumble, there your treasure is...And so it is in our own psyche: our psyche is the cave with all the jewels in it, and it's the fact that we're not letting their energies move us that brings us up short. And where it seems most challenging lies the greatest invitation to find deep and greater powers in outselves."(26)

--"Our demons are our own limitations, which shut us off from the realization of the ubiquity of the spirit. And as each of these demons is conquered in a vision quest, the consciousness of the quester is enlarged, and more of the world is encompassed. Basically the vision quest involves getting past your own limitations, which are within even as they appear to be without. They are symbolized in myth as monsters and demons, and in each age the characteristics change; because as a people, so do its limitations." (28)

--"My definition of a devil is a god who has not been recognized. That is to say, it is a power within you to which you have not given expression, and you push it back. And the power, like all repressed energy, it builds up and becomes completely dangerous to the position you're trying to hold.
One of the best examples of that is the trickster fiqure in American Indian myth: the coyote, and the rabbit. He's at once a fool and a creator. He's a fool in that he's not acting in terms of the order of life in progress; and he's the creator in that he is the unrecognized, yet pressing energies that are threatening to break through." (28-29)

Since the last chemo-threatment, the side effects took over my life. No, the side effects got worse and made functioning in my life difficult. I had allowed them to take over my psyche. The operative word here is had. I allowed myself to feel helpless. By allowing that excuse to exist, I reqlinguished my own inner power. Without that strength, I became deflated, anxious, bitchy, and lost. But enough is enough. I have done away with that. I have risen like a phoenix and am just as ugly and determined. I will not miss more of my work. I love my work and will not be denied. I will not take my next treatment until I am back in balance both physically and emotionally. I will begin to enjoy each moment of my life and not simply endure it.
I made these decisions yesterday morning. Already I feel as though I'm on firmer ground. I talked to my nurse practioner today and she agrees that I need to heal before scheduling my next treatment. The dosage then will be decreased, too. Good. I like that compromise and support. I do think the chemo. is needed, but I am adament that I will not sacrifice my own spirit. My affirmation of life is what keeps me living aware, not just going through the motions of simply existing. I'm no saint, thank goodness, but I sure don't want to deny my own power (now that I have refound it).

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hot Foot

Our weather of late has shown its southern roots--hot and very humid. No offense, but it does not bring out the best in the city; in fact, it emphasizes some of its negative aspects: foul odors, stagnant air, tenuous temper control, and heightened noise levels. Not a good time to make the transition from the mountains to the city; but nonetheless, I'm here. And then Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, New York City sprung into action sending firefighters, police officers, EMTs, nurses, doctors, and even the very same fire engine Louisianna gave us after 9-11. The volunteerism rose dramatically here as many of us who endured 9--11 got busy donating money, food, clothing, medical supplies, blood, toys, manning the National Red Cross hotlines, and even going to the coast to physically assist in any way possible. NYC is still a community, one that has learned how to accept help and one that has learned how to give back in kind. And suddenly it feels like a small town, with all the positives of such, only even better because we represent a true glimpse of how different people from all over the world can come together for a common goal.
I am glad to be here once again. The people, the microcosim of the world, that's why I am here. NYC represents humankind at its best, and sometimes at its worse. Is that so surprising? Humans are certainly like that, unpredictable and quite maddening. Just look at the mess we make out of everything we touch. I still have hope for us; if I didn't, I sure wouldn't be teaching here in the city. I'd scamper right back to the woods for good.
And speaking of scampering, I can't. I can barely walk right now because each step is a painful proposition. It is frustrating how the side effects of chemotherapy dictate their own particular timetable that has no relationship to convenience or even logic. PPE, a swelling, rash, ruptures really, have taken over my feet. No soaking in the sea for relief now, nor cushioning my feet with fuzzy slippers bring any relief. Only barefoot is bearable, and I ask you, how does one really negotiate the city barefoot and survive intact? I'm not crazy enough to find out. So feel free to call me hot foot, because literally and fiquratively right now,
that's me. Oh well, otherwise I'm feeling fine.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Humbling Thoughts

I am humbled by those who care unconditionally. It is a genuine gift when humans do so. Unfortunately I believe it may be against our nature. Animals do it seemingly without thought. Babies do too, and sometimes children. But animals, babies, and children soon learn from adult humans that caring is dangerous. So I am grateful for the friends, the adult humans, who have cared for me in big and/or little ways. I hope I will reciprocate always. I certainly will try.

But I am thinking of the Gulf Coast and all those humans who are in danger. Some have given up on humankind and therefore on themselves. As a result, their actions are anything but helpful. Some are taking it out on themselves. Others are taking it out on others. If this situation shows anything, it shows that "Lord of the Flies" continues to be a valid statement about humankind. I am ashamed of us. I am also upset when the rest of us sit in judgment of what is happening there right now. It is hard not to. Many of us are complaining about the slow governmental response to the crisis, but who among us are actually doing anything to directly help? Lip service. Shame on us.

I am back in the city. I am at work with a few good friends there. I am glad to be here. I am sad to be here. I miss up north. The summer was special. It was hard for me not to work. I was a kid when I last had a summer off with no work. I did it for myself, to make each moment count. And I pushed away the guilt trip and did enjoy every moment. It began and ended with my inner circle of friends, a circle that widened to include new members. Kayaking the ocean off the Maine coast, going to islands like Goat Island and Woods Island, was humbling. Not only did I feel the power of nature big time, the unrelenting beauty, but I felt the whisperings of history...the lighthouses built in the beginning of the 1800's, the shipwrecks filled with wonderings of those who were lost and where, the pieces of metal, the rocks, the now porous bricks that have come from somewhere sometime ago, the feeling of my back against an ancient lighthouse feeling the ghosts that have passed that way. I felt small, I felt fortunate, I felt a part of something greater than I.

When Katrina was tormenting the Gulf Coast, I was sitting in my chemo. chair once again, feeling the toxins entering a body, a body that has felt so alive this summer. And I feel humbled that I am alive and fortunate to be where I have been and where I am now.But my little drama is so tiny when I think about the enormity of what is occuring no so very far away. And once more, I am humbled and cannot even pretend I understand why things happen as they do.