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a blip in the continuum

Well, folks, I am still in the hospital, week seven starts tomorrow. The nurses and doctors are frustrated. My regular visitors are frustrated. I’m practicing patience (hard) and doing my best not to be frustrated; some days it even works.

Today I’m getting blood results back from the CMV test, which, if negative, means that I will need one more negative test on Friday to be discharged. My fingers are no longer crossed because, frankly, it doesn’t work! If the test is positive, they will put me on a stronger but more controversial medicine that my kidneys will not like. C’est la vie. If it’s positive I’ll be in at least another week. The hospital stay has become Groundhog Day on steroids.

In other news, the drain lodged through my stomach and behind my new liver is has just come out, and hopefully, some of the pain will go with it. It was actually due to come out yesterday, but then, that’s sometimes the way time moves in the hospital.

Most of us think that seven weeks is a long time to be in the hospital. It sure feels like it to me. Eight of the nurses have undergone dramatic hairstyle changes. Three of the doctors have had haircuts. I’ve seen the leaves on the trees change from green to red to brown, and start to disappear to the earth below my window. The passing of time is evident, yet there is a bigger picture that reminds me that the haircuts, the transitioning of seasons, my stay in the hospital are all just a blip in the continuum.

I have been watching the BBC series called Earth: The Power of the Planet. Not only very educational and beautifully filmed, the episodes each highlight one key point: the earth is changeable and changing even as we speak. The moon moves 4cm away from the earth every year. Glaciers melt and meteors collide into the earth’s surface. We humans walk around so concerned with our individual lives, worrying about things that could be rendered meaningless in an instant if the universal forces were to interfere. And they will interfere, at some point, just look at the dinosaurs, or to the most recent planetary disturbance, the typhoon in the Philippines moving towards Vietnam. The Jurassic Coast of south western England is losing ground every year due to erosion, and as the climate warms, the delicate ecosystems in our oceans and on land are jeopardized with global impact. It is a fact that the earth is changing. What we do with those facts, how we perceive those facts in relationship to our own lives, that’s not so measurable.

Patanjali states in the Yoga Sutras: vastu-samye-chitta-bhedat tayor vibhaktah pantah (YS IV.15)

Which translates as “Each individual person perceives the same object in a different way, according to their own state of mind and projections. Everything is empty from its own side and appears according to how you see it.”

Everything and everyone we see is coming from our own minds. Our perspective is actually just a product of our past actions; in yoga we call this karma (action). Those of us who are invested in the practice of yoga are interested in cleaning up our actions. Through practice and shastra (self-study, reading the ancient texts) we come to understand that many view the world as black and white, or the good guys vs. the bad guys. In reality, there is no black or white, good or bad.

Through the practice of yoga, we come to realize that everything is in our mind; the world as we know it is a figment of things we have done in our past. This is a massive concept to fully comprehend, but when it sinks in, we realize that the way we treat someone will be the way we are treated in the future. We see the value and expansiveness in our actions, and become more aware of how we want to automatically respond when someone is unkind to us or things don’t go the way we want them to. We may even come realize that we don’t have to wait for others to change the world so that we can be happy.

The practice of yoga is (in part) about taking responsibility; responsibility for the earth we live on, for other beings, and for our own happiness. I’m amazed at how many people openly voice their frustration at my situation. I have certainly had moments of frustration, sadness, even anger and the moments of feeling like a victim; however, these have been fleeting and rectifiable. Through my practice, I am brought back to the other ‘reality’, the one that reminds me how lucky and blessed I am to have holy beings looking after me; how grateful I am to have been given this monumental gift of a healthy liver.

Time moves slowly and quickly, all governed by our perspective. There is one fact, and that is that sooner or later, everything will change and disappear. It’s our responsibility to find the pockets of happiness in the present moment, where time stands still.

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