A few years ago a friend and I took a road trip to the Big Sur and Carmel.
It was one of the best trips of my life. Both of our families spent considerable time there when we were young, so the landscape narrates segments of our lives.
When my soul is starving for something I often dream about the Big Sur. I think it symbolizes heaven to me. Heaven here on earth. “Here are the green pastures of heaven to which our Lord leadeth us.” – St. John Steinbeck
I live in Southern California. Most people think it is beautiful. And it IS beautiful. But my city, San Diego has become crowded. It has become a mini Los Angeles. People cut you off on the freeway, drive aggressively, and flip you off.
I am sick of traffic.
I am sick of noise and activity and working too hard.
So I am trying to take a break and to channel what I call the “Big Sur State of Mind.”
Today I hiked at Torrey Pines State Park before seeing a client. It was beautiful.
When you surf, this is the view you see – but from the water. It is absolutely awesome.
It is even more stunning to catch a wave and to be one with the water. Then thought, feeling, and motion form their own kind of trinity connecting one to God.
I haven’t surfed in a long time. Five months ago I bought a new car and I have yet to figure out how to transport my long board on the new vehicle. So I’d like to learn how to ride a fish so that I can just throw a board inside the car and not have to bother with strapping the thing onto the roof.
Because I’m sick of traffic and in the ocean, there are no cars…
A few days ago while driving in an unfamiliar city, I committed a minor traffic offense. I was hopelessly lost thanks to MapQuest and not knowing that there is a big difference between avenues and streets in Phoenix. There were virtually no cars on the street save for the officer’s, which looked like a plain clothes automobile.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?” the policeman asked me.
“Yes, I do.”
I think he was used to people denying their actions.
I looked him straight in the eye. “Perhaps it’s Providence you pulled me over because I’m totally lost. I can’t find my hotel.”
I then shoved my MapQuest papers into his hands. Upon looking at them, he too was perplexed.
He didn’t write me a ticket. Instead, he helped me out.
Cops get a very bad rap. They’re accused of brutality and killing innocents. Yet I’ve worked with a number of officers, training them to teach a public education course called Mental Health First Aid http://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org and I think it’s time we start airing some of the positive stories. Stories that highlight their deep dedication to helping others and to showing up day after day in an incredibly stressful job.
My mom was pulled over many times by cops for driving under the influence. She was cuffed and taken to jail, and while in jail, she was often put on suicide watch. So every officer I meet who cares about mental health issues and the lives of others, heals a piece of my heart. I am grateful to the police who bring Mental Health First Aid to their precincts and who are making a difference in their communities. Hats off to them!
The time waiting for a Super Shuttle pick up is always tenuous. It’s not like you can really relax and do anything because you know they’re coming. Any minute. Only if you’re like me, you start waiting for them an hour before they arrive.
I have never liked the time before heading off to the airport, particularly when I was a kid waiting to fly home from after a visit with my grandparents. Despite being happy to go home, I’d always be melancholy. I’d tear up knowing that a time was ending and that my heart felt tender. I was also that kid who was sad when school let out for summer… I am no different today. While I don’t get as sentimental leaving a hotel (although sometimes I grow fond of a place), departures and arrivals become microcosms of the transitions in our lives. And no matter how much I travel and how much I’ve both endured change and thrive on it, I also simultaneously resist it.
As I get older, I am even more aware of transitions. Some visits become our last. There suddenly are no grandparents to visit but one and no parents to return home to. The scenery changes as do the seasons and the years.
So what do we do in the gap, in this transition between one situation and the beginning of another? The Tibetans call this the bardo state. By definition, the word crystallizes the process of transition itself and its resulting chaos. Bar means “in-between” and do means “suspended” or “thrown”. It is “a continuous, unnerving oscillation between clarity and confusion, bewilderment and insight, certainty and uncertainty, sanity and insanity” (Rinpoche). In yoga, this is the space between the breaths; the shift from one position to the next.
In this space I believe we free fall, we notice, we surrender, we become. And so yes, I have to come to love waiting around as much as I hate it. How about you?
So I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no good time for a colonoscopy. Not sandwiched in-between two out of town teaching trips, or while fighting a miserable cold, or while trying to figure out if your cat has cancer. Let’s face it. Having to have a colonoscopy is a bunch of crap piled onto one’s schedule.
Let me put it this way. I do not fast. Not for religion purposes or dieting or cleanses. It’s not my thing. I have a ridiculously high metabolism and it simply doesn’t work for me. I get dizzy. I grow faint. Years ago I thought I’d be a good exchange student and fast with my Indonesian host family during the Islamic holiday of Ramadan and learned the hard way. Fasting makes me sick. So when the doctor told me I had to have a colonoscopy at the ripe old age of 43 and that I would have to drink liquid all day and basically poop out any remaining calories within me, I was not a happy camper.
The big preparation day began on Sunday. Blowing snot out of one orifice and heavens knows what out the other was not my idea of a good time. By mid-day, my head was pounding. I looked longingly at the food in the kitchen pantry; lounged on my bed reading a friend’s novel and dozed off to sleep every few hours. By this morning, my head felt like it was going to explode and I think I started hearing things.
I thought they were making a mountain out of a mole hill. I am as healthy as a horse. But cancer runs in my family. You know the drill. And indeed they found a polyp. So I guess it was a good thing I had this little inconvenient procedure. It wasn’t a bunch of crap after all. Perhaps it saved my life.
There is no ideal time to develop cancer or to die. To get sick or to lose a pet. To get stuck in snow or have a plane delayed. All we have is the present. And we better well embrace it.
Tonight I lie in bed in my bathrobe happy to eat again and to have my headache abate (I am still not allowed to have alcohol or aspirin). But tomorrow, begins a new day. I can’t wait for coffee with cream and to feel good. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad!