A year ago, I was in hospital, being told my head was about to explode. It was an interesting experience to suddenly face your mortality after one simple phone call from the doctor.
It was the not knowing what was next, that was oddly soothing to me. I remember feeling out of control–so not in the driver’s seat–that for once, I could be exonerated from responsibility in my outcome. I could let go of the wheel, look out the window, take in the moment, cherish each breath that came to me and just let myself be–ah, finally!
I’ve read dozens of books by the likes of Eckhart Tolle and Don Miguel Ruiz, about living in the moment, the now, the space of time it takes to inhale one long gulp of meditative air without some freaking pesky thought getting in the way. But I’m likely the most fidgety person I know, and self-help books cause me nothing but anxiety. I tend to flip to the end, find the answers I need, so I can get back to my Elmore Leonard novel–find out how the cool guy gets the girl and that bag of cash for himself.
Well, turned out the doctors had no clue about my future either. At least the one who said I was dying. It was a ten thousand dollar bill handed over to me by Dr. Simpson, saying, “D’oh!”
“Maybe it was a mistake on the X-ray, a fly speck on the film or the technician’s nose hair in the microsope that had them believing I was in trouble.”
We all want the answers to life. We cling to passages from ancient writings, sayings from our life coaches and professors, methaphors from the elders in our world and of course we want to be percieved as bright and in control; but in reality, we control very little. We merely pretend to believe we do.
As a kid, whenever I got on my high horse (as Mom called it) thinking I had the answers to the big questions of the univeres, she was quick to pull the saddle blanket out from under me with simple quips like, “You ain’t so mucking fuch David Wesley, now sit down and eat your goulash.”
Still, I grew up believing in extreams, two colors of paint, two shades of light and shadow and one truth for all, which I clearly felt I had a handle on.
Now, after 51 years of pondering the nature of the universe, I rarely see anything in absolutes of black or white. The varieties of grey in the middle, where we really live, seem only to grow and continue to spread into a trillion variations–like my misguided brain scan.
Yes, I was a pompous pain in the ass to all who knew me at one time, thinking I had the answers for not only my life, but everyone else’s as well. But the older I get, the less concerned I am with finding the eternal answers to the pop quiz that is this life.
Do I really know anything now? Not so much. Of this one thing, I’m quite certain.