A Shot In The Dark

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I once had a miscarriage.  Yes, it was horrible.  It wasn’t the six-week-heavy-period early type miscarriage, although those can be just as devastating when you are longing for a baby.  No, it was the I-just-started-telling-people-I-was-pregnant late type of miscarriage. It was the globs of what was once a whole life sustaining system seeping out of your body because that life was no longer type miscarriage.

I ended up at the hospital, my poor dear roommate accompanying me in a cab to the emergency room where they took amazing care of me, so much so that after a doctor’s examination, I was admitted to the woman’s ward where I was given a bed and pain relief.  I remember eating a dry, tasteless sandwich and drinking a weak cup of milky tea, smiling into it noting passively, I do not take milk.  The drug was obviously taking affect and I waved my relieved roommate goodbye.

The next thing I knew, I woke up in agony and having since given birth to my beautiful daughter, I can without hesitation say, that this was worse than actual labour.  It wasn’t just the psychological slap in the face of having to go through a process that once over would leave you without a baby, but also the level of pure physical pain.  I remember going to the toilet and just sitting there as the stuff of my once slowly growing dream sloughed out of me.  It hurt.  It hurt in every way.  My legs, adding to the hurt by falling asleep, forced me to get off the toilet and back to bed.  Lying down again, I was sweating, shaking and crying, I had never experienced such intense sensations.  I tired to be stoic, I was in London, England after all; stiff upper lip, keep calm and carry on, we survived the Blitz and all that, but after a few more unbearable moments, I pressed the nurse button.

Quickly I was rewarded by the presence of a nurse at my bedside.  Judging by her parlance she must have hailed from the Caribbean and I remember thinking: oh thank God, I love Bob Marley, it must be a sign she is a good person who will help me.  Strange what we think in duress…  I told her that I was in excruciating pain and she gently stroked my forehead and said:

“That is what it is like dear, I am sorry, you just have to go through it.”

“I know,” I said, “but can’t you help me?”

She looked so kindly at me, just imagining it now brings tears to my eyes.

“Just a moment,” she said and walked away.

I heard her pick up a telephone and talk to someone on the other end.

“No, no, she has just had some painkillers.  OK, ok, thank you.”

Then she walked away from the phone and after a few minutes returned. I went to raise my head from the pillow, and she put her hand out to stop me.

“No, no, just lie still,” she told me soothingly.

But her warning had come too late.  I had already seen the needle she was carrying. It was massive.  Just the needle part must have been eight inches long.  Before I knew what was happening she had pulled down my hospital issued underwear and was rubbing disinfectant onto one of my butt cheeks.  Suddenly, she stuck the needle into me and pushed down the plunger.  Worse pain then I was already in exploded from the site of injection before it was replaced by a sort of instantaneous bliss.  To this day, I have no idea what drug she gave me but it was one hundred percent effective and quick!

From studying drugs for my psych degree in university, I at least knew that it was a newer painkiller, the type that, put in a simplified way, cut the communication between neurotransmitters. Your brain still knows that it is in pain, it can still feel the pain, but it doesn’t care.  The synaptic uptake on the other side of caring never happens.  So you still feel everything but don’t give a toss about it.  You are like a crazy person, laughing, crying, screaming: I am in so much freaking pain but I don’t give a damn!

I soon fell asleep to this thought and I write about it here because it was such a deep and poignant lesson.  I kept returning to the memory I just described and thinking, if only I could find a painkiller as an antidote to all of life’s hurts.  If only I could feel everything but not give a damn about it.  I experienced that miscarriage almost seven years ago and it has taken seven years of searching to find it; the antidote to life’s suffering and not in pharmaceutical form.  I found it instead through doing nothing, or through sitting or as others call it, thorough meditating.

About six months ago, I was going crazy.  I was totally losing the plot.  The stress of life had rendered me a raw nerve that was constantly being over stimulated to the point of exhaustion and madness.  Then one day I spontaneously signed up for an eight-week online meditation course.  I started enthusiastically, and then wanted to quit, and then wanted to send the teacher a nasty note, and then got back into it. My emotions were all over the place.  In sticking with it however, just a daily (twice if I can make it) thirty-minute practice of mantra based meditation, I have found something extraordinary: a massive narcotic filled needle permanently plunged into my butt cheek!  Eureka!

After six months of doing nothing, I have embodied the ‘I do not give a damn’ ethos.  The great thing is that as expected, I still feel pain.  This morning I lay in bed and had a nano second cry, but that was because I was talking to someone who hasn’t found what I have and still does give a damn.  This made me sad.  I could feel his pain and so let it flow through me and out my open eyes. There. Gone. Better.

So, I can feel my own pain, another’s pain and the world’s pain but I just hear it like a far off echo whose source I cannot locate. It doesn’t come close to me and it is over in an instant.  This might sound stranger than my Bob Marley logic from the night in the hospital, but it is true.  Meditation has created this sort of space in between the essence of who I am and the world; and I include myself in that world.  It has created a space between the real me and the me that goes around in utter agony.  Because that is what life can be if you let it, constant suffering. My night nurse savior said it: ‘That is what it is like dear, I am sorry, you just have to go through it.’ That is what life is like, painful and you just have to go through it, but better to go through it with a eight inch needle of bliss lodged in your gluteus maximus then without.

I acknowledge that some people aren’t like me, they were born wired for happiness in ways that I am not.  They seem able to attach to the good and reject the bad, but not me, pre-meditation practice I was attaching to everything, erecting a shrine to it and praying under it five times a day.  Perhaps I am someone who responds to meditation because I need it so much.  I need something to cut the cord between my ego and my experiences. to release me from the burden of feeling to much.  Now, thanks to a daily practice, I can still experience life fully but pain or pleasure, I simply don’t give a damn.

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William Tell

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The other day, my daughter and I were driving in the car. As always, I had the radio tuned to a classical music station. A particularly distinctive piece of music came on.

My daughter asked, “What is that song Mummy?”

After a very brief pause, I blurted out, “William Tell. The William Tell Overture. It’s a very famous piece of music. Do you like it?”

“Yes,” she replied.

I was amazed. Not because she had said that she liked it, but because I had almost instantly responded to her question. How did I know that piece of music was the William Tell Overture? Where in my mind did that fact reside? Who had ever told me the name of that composition?

I admit that I became obsessed over this momentary exchange. It fascinated me because it pointed directly to a continuation of knowledge; a knowledge that I didn’t even know existed within me. I began to think that there must be tons of facts within my brain that were put there, by who or what? My mother, my father, my teacher, the school, the establishment, the media?

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Big Black Boot

 

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It was just a few short months ago, that my father and I sat up late drinking rum, for our terrible head colds, of course, and watching the US election results live on TV. We bemoaned the fact that Donald Trump appeared to be on track to win the Presidency, but why? The majority of Americans (as flawed as their electoral system is) had spoken and they had spoken out for Trump to be their leader.

Since then, I probably do not have to say, America has imploded. Right, left, conservative, liberal, women, LGBT, Latinos, African Americans, and plain old white people (yes, that is intended to be a joke) are all sections of society at war with each other and themselves over what it means to have this particular man in power. I could break it down into election promises, subsequent actions and future intentions of Trump, as to what has gotten everyone all hot and bothered, but that is neither here nor there. Of course, it is you say! That man wants to build a wall. He wants to break up families. He wants to deny women autonomy over their bodies. He wants to discriminate against particular ethnicities and religions. That man is a tyrant! Is he? If he is, America, then you all have a big problem because the majority of your population support this tyrant.

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It’s just a buzz

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I once dropped acid.   I did it once and never again because it was definitely not my thing.  As soon as that little drop of drug had dissolved on my tongue and filtered into my bloodstream, finding its way to the top of my head where it preformed a magic trick on my brain, I regretted it.  I wished I could have taken my decision back, but I couldn’t.  Drugs have a shelf life in our bodies and I therefore had to wait.  One of the friends with whom I was tripping noted my regret.  He told me:  “Hey, its just a buzz.”  And buzzes wear off.  You just have to go through them; to wait them out.  And I did.  After hours of neurotransmitter gymnastics, my brain chemicals hit the showers and I was allowed to go to bed, the ‘buzz’ having finally wore off.  It actually took a few days for my brain to revert back to normal as the dregs of the LSD were worked out of my system but I soon found my equilibrium enough to get back to the business of being an experimental university student.

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Memory Train

I haven’t written a blog entry in months. I do not know why really? I have had many ideas for an entry or two, but a concept would never fully form in my mind so that writing could flow out of it. It was like my mind was on a train, passing stations with names such as: ‘The Importance of Cultural Context on the Individual’. ‘Nature versus Nurture’, ‘The Promotion of Individualism as a Necessity to Consumerism, ‘Things that Change and Things That Stay the Same: What the Rocky Mountains Taught Me About Impermanence’, ‘The Sublime Literary Genius of Kent Haruf’, etc… On and on the train travelled, encountering its manifest thoughts as train stations, but never stopping long enough in one place to really get to know it. It did not disembark at ‘Nature versus Nurture’, getting its overnight bag and going to the Attachment Theory Hotel to check in. Then once settled in its room, freshening up before going out into the street to spot the DNA Expression Pub and decide to pop in for a pint, before heading on to the Lamarckian Theory Restaurant for a roast dinner. No, it was just sitting there passively on the train, noting each station sign as it went by. Reading and understanding the words, but not being able to concentrate on them long enough to formulate thoughts upon which to write.

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Take No Notice

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We went to the beach today. After a long winter and strange spring, summer has finally arrived. Today was 34 degrees and a few days from now it will hit 38. We will experience a little heat wave for the next week and what better place to wait it out but at the beach. Now that my daughter is older and I do not have to stay constantly glued to her side, meaning I can sit in the water cooling myself whilst she splashes me or eats an ice cream on a sun chair, I have become a beach addict. I have been to the beach more in the past month then I had been in the last year. I love the salty sea and the cool breeze, I especially love the sand and rocks. I rub the sand over my hands and feet, legs and arms, I would rub it over my face if I didn’t think that afterwards I would look like a human tomato. Sand is the best exfoliate in the world in my opinion but not only that, after I walk along the beach in my bare feet, I feel innumerably better. I have this theory that as I walk along pressing my feet into those miniscule broken up rocks, I am hitting all of the pressure points in my feet. The small pebbles are even better, being that they are harder and larger than the soft sand. I love those pebbles. It takes me ages to get down the short beaches here because I am obsessed with rock collecting. Rocks are amazing. The colors, the textures, the consistencies. I have a huge basket of rocks and it is almost full. Every time I return from the beach I make sure to clean out my beach bag and purse of rocks. I once went into town with my daughter and wondered why my handbag was so heavy until I prised it open and found a huge rock which must have weighed at least a pound or two. I have always loved the beach really whether it was a beach on the Med or a jut of sand on a fresh water lake but I didn’t grow up near a beach so I am just getting used to living a beach lifestyle.

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I am Canadian

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The other day I took a bath. Well, not a proper bath. I didn’t turn on the hot and cold taps in my bathroom and let them fill up a tub into which I had poured some sort of healing salts or calming bath oil. When I say that I took a bath, I actually filled up my daughter’s baby bath with five kettles of boiling water (yes, that took some time especially with our water pressure and electrical voltage problem), added some cold water to touch, took off my cloths, stood in the shower area, and doused myself repeatedly with the water from a plastic jug. I should have really collected some wood from outside, chopped it and put it in bottom of the small boiler that sits in the entrance to the bathroom which serves to heat the water, so that I could have a proper shower. A shower like normal people, where the water comes out of the showerhead and pours down over you whilst you do your thing. I thought in this manner as I was washing my hair. I wondered what ‘normal people’ were and then I realised that I was ‘normal people’ doing something abnormal, at least abnormal compared to what was my past norm. The norm that I grew up with and continued even though I moved to London in my thirties and then to Turkey after that. In our last house I had a shower like ‘normal people’ but not now.

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