17 February 2011

Satisfying Soreness

We've been giving exams this week at the med school - first year students performing a head-to-toe physical on us (on me, and boy is my body sore). The students spend their hour trying to remember all 140 steps to the physical and do them correctly - and I spend mine cooperating with the "doctor", and wanting to "help" them when they forget something, but knowing I cannot.

How special though is this experience of being with "baby doctors" in their process - what a gift. Watching students (really students at all levels, but especially these guys who are training to provide us with care and healing) learn, observing how they are changed by what they learn, and being part of their development as humans and scientists, has always been something I get really juiced about. I can't seem to stay away from it, nor would I want to. I guess I have a facility for working in a learning environment, for being present with people in such a space. And I simply love it.

Yesterday I was the examinee all day, and my god how sore I was. You wouldn't think getting a physical would do that - though I got five of them yesterday. Today it was only three, same for tomorrow - and that is plenty, according to my body. I can take care of that and deal with the stiff and soreness though, because I love "watching the wheels go round and round" in their heads as they practice thinking and doing at the same time. The BEST part though, for me - is when they have "finished" and sit in the room going over what they've done - reviewing the exam. Some of them sort of walk their fingers over their own bodies as they recall their actions. Others talk to themselves, even to me, as they review verbally. I just sit.

Today one young woman sat in the chair and seemed to go into a trance - eyes closed, absolutely quiet and seemingly calm as she conducted her mental review. The exam room (which looks exactly like a doctor's exam room) took on a feeling of peace. I found myself noticing details - the way her gold-red hair shone in the lights, the air on my back where the hospital gown did not meet, and particularly the pale green "fuzz" that has appeared overnight on the tree limbs outside the window. The student sat that way for nearly ten minutes and it felt as if we'd shared meditation space and time.

What a fabulous, important, and transforming job I have found in this. And, in the words of the late, and great, John Hartford - "I get paid for doin' this."

13 February 2011

The face in the two-thirds moon tonight looks quizzacle - is that a word? But maybe you'll know what I mean - sort of puzzled, perhaps a bit confused or questioning. I don't even know why I looked up and noticed that face, except that finally we've had a day of relative warmth and sunshine here in Louisville and I've been outside a lot. I just went out now at 7:15 pm to luxuriate in the fact that a sweatshirt is sufficient to the temp, and to ponder what I want to say to the world tonight. On looking up, seeing the raised eyebrows and scrunched up mouth on the face in the moon (and, yes, I DO understand that part of the "expression" has to do with the fact that the moon isn't full) I thought, "Yeah, quizzacle, just like me."

And here's why - day after tomorrow I turn 59 years old. I've been thinking about that lately.

It's always around my birthday, rather than at the new year, that I take stock of my life, . Lately I've wondered how any of us can really know what impact we've had in and on the world, what difference it has made that we have lived. Looking down the tube and seeing 59 (I mean, really, can't we just skip years like that and move on to the next decade?) getting bigger in the window does make me think - so what have I done with the years and the talents and skills.

I don't mean to sound morbid (though tomorrow I AM playing a depressed patient at the med school), but guess I've reached the age when such considerations do arise. Maybe more though I'm considering "what next?" You reach your fifties (which, yeah, I almost didn't live through) and I suppose it's logical to wonder what might lie ahead.

There's a lot I still hope to experience. Falling in love again, and this time with someone who also wants to be in love with me, is on the list. Traveling to one or more of the places I long to see (Alaska, Australia, and the list goes on) is there too, as is publishing in a really good literary journal. But I'm not talking so much about those discrete things - though love is truly more than that - more about what sort of old person I might be.

I want to be a Crone, a Wise Woman, an Elder - a woman who has that inner quality of sensual wisdom and that beauty of countenance arising from a life fully lived. And as I consider the possibility of that I wonder if I really HAVE lived in such a way as to really have a chance at Crone-dom. Not that I could undo or re-do any of it - or would if I could. But at this point in my life I gotta consider just what the past (my past) might be prelude To.

Yes, I get caught up in looking at times I've fucked up, made wrong choices, and taken dead-end paths as mistakes rather than learning ops. I tend to lose sight of the "teachable moment" nature of each of those times - to forget that it is NOT when things are going well and we're walking in tall cotton that we gain wisdom. Wisdom is gained when times are tough, when things fall apart. I forget that it's when we look around, realize that the path we're on doesn't go where we thought or where we wanted, and say "oh well, let's see where it goes" that we discover something that may change us forever.

01 February 2011

Knock, Knock

I'm starting a new job tomorrow - always a bit stressful. Though it would interest me to explore the stresses here, I'm trying something new - trying to sit with the anxiousness about this and whatever else in life I have anxiety about (that I haven't even let myself in on yet).

We'll see how well this works - this inhabiting anxiousness on a grey, raining, February 1st - since what I usually do - and really, am SO good at, is distracting myself from what bothers me.

Robert Pirsig (Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) has written - "The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away." For today, partially in honor of tomorrow's Groundhog Day (the day AND the movie) I'm trying to sit still and say "come in" when the knock comes.