Wednesday, March 28, 2012

All In Good Time

     A couple of mornings ago, I awoke with a sense of uneasiness. I had gone to bed the night before, thinking about our unfinished tax returns and my pile of credentialing paperwork, waiting to confront me in the morning. At some point during the night, Brad had a nightmare, and his muffled screaming woke me with a start. I nudged him awake, and asked him what he'd been dreaming about. He'd dreamt that he was alone in a house, surrounded by an overpoweringly ominous feeling, and that he'd seen a woman's face, painted ghostly white with a bright light coming from behind her, peeking at him from around a corner. That's when he tried to scream. "Did you recognize the woman's face?" I asked. "Yes, it was Sue Plaga." Sue was his first step-mother, a psychologically abusive, alcoholic hag who's been dead for a long time. Brad lost his mother, Mary, to breast cancer when he was only six. He and his brothers adored Mary, and Brad says that when he started kindergarten, he cried every day because he missed being at home with his mom. He doesn't remember much about his mother, except how loved she made him feel. About five years later, Brad's father married Sue. From what Brad and his brothers say, Sue was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; she was instrumental in getting Brad's older brothers kicked out of the house, leaving Brad to fend for himself. He must have felt terribly isolated and alone. On her best behavior while Bob was home, Sue would wait until he left town on business to terrorize poor Brad, driving around drunk with him in the car, constantly berating him and making him feel worthless. Eventually, she stopped hiding her evil side from Bob, and he divorced her. It's a wonder Brad doesn't have nightmares about Sue more often.
     We woke up a few hours later, had our coffee together, and then, Brad went off to work. I had a mountain of tax and credentialing paperwork awaiting me, and began the tedious process of slogging through it. I had to meet my CPA at 2 p.m. the next day to go over the taxes, and was nowhere near finished itemizing our deductions. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get it all done. The credentialing forms are lengthy and redundant, requiring recall of obscure information, as well as notified copies of various documents and passport photos. I'm surprised they aren't also asking for my umbilical cord stump. Despite having all of that paperwork to fill out, I felt inspired to write a new blog. Inspiration took precedence over duty and obligation, and feeling slightly guilty, I pushed the paperwork off to the side. "I'm really going to be behind now", I thought. This was probably around 8:30 or so. I was heavily involved in writing when I received a text message from my 21 year old son, Rory. He's been on home intravenous (IV) antibiotics for the last 3 1/2 weeks, treating a pulmonary exacerbation from his cystic fibrosis, and had texted me to let me know he was at the Emory Clinic, having his indwelling IV catheter removed. His pulmonary function was 1% above his previous best baseline, definitely something to celebrate. He told me that his doctor was having a hard time getting the IV catheter out, and that he was being sent to Radiology to have it removed. I was a little worried. Rory told me he'd "turned green" while his pulmonologist was tugging on the catheter, trying to dislodge it from the crook of his right arm. I wondered if he'd need some sedation to tolerate having it removed. I asked him if he wanted me to drive over to Emory, thinking he might end up needing sedation, in which case he'd be unable to drive himself home. He responded that he wasn't alone. His girlfriend, Fanchon, had accompanied him, and they suggested that we meet for lunch after Rory finished up in Radiology. I was so touched that Fanchon had spent three hours, waiting with Rory at Emory. As a parent, there is nothing quite as wonderful as knowing your child is loved by a significant other, and all of a sudden, spending time with the two of them was all that really seemed to matter.
     Rory and Fanchon arrived at my place around 1 p.m. I had just finished my blog, and still hadn't showered. After reading to them what I'd written, I got ready and the three of us went out for sushi. Lunch was unhurried, and afterward, we decided to sit outside in the beautifully cool, sunny weather. We took Simon and Lilly with us, and as they chased squirrels and basked in the sun, we enjoyed a glass of pinot noir and each other's company: an afternoon well spent. The uneasiness I'd felt earlier in the day seemed to melt into a casual sense of relaxation and serenity. In celebrating Rory's good health and his companionship with Fanchon, I lost the internal agenda that had been haunting me, like the ghostly apparition in Brad's dream. I knew the taxes and paperwork would still be there, but they were now of peripheral, instead of central importance.
     When we attend to something, we consciously ignore just about everything else. Whatever it is that we're worrying about tends to pervade our consciousness, drowning out other thoughts, narrowing our focus even further, creating anxiety which can actually disable us from completing any of our tasks.
When nothing is done, 
nothing is left undone
It is in stepping back and trusting my intuition, clearing out the thoughts which are cluttering my mind, instead of trying to control or ignore them, that I seem to accomplish the most. In not worrying, there is nothing to worry about. Time and energy are conserved, instead of being wasted, and with surprisingly little effort on my part, problems and concerns seem to take care of themselves. Such an open-minded approach may seem counter-productive, especially to those of us who like to feel we're "on top of things."
A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is.
Einstein described the "systematic thinking of human beings" as being "an utterly insignificant reflection" in comparison with the harmony of natural law, which reveals a vastly superior intelligence. He surmised that it is this intuitive receptiveness and open-mindedness which guides the life and work of a true scientist. In other words, when we detach ourselves from our own ideas, we are no longer prejudiced. 
     I finished my tax return yesterday at 1 p.m. My visit with our CPA was brief, yet pleasant, and the outlook doesn't appear as grim as I had thought. Remembering the conversation that Rory, Fanchon, and I had about money the day before, about how it is really just printed paper of uncertain value, helped keep the tax situation in perspective. Money itself doesn't bring happiness; we assign its value. I'm still working on the credentialing documents, and should be able to get them mailed out later this afternoon or tomorrow. Credentialing is a complicated process, and doesn't occur overnight, even with rapid return of one's application. Once I become credentialed, I'll be able to start working again. Although I'm really looking forward to getting back to work, I'm not allowing the looming specter of this paperwork to haunt me. I know it'll all happen, all in good time.
Rory and Fanchon

italicized quotes from Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching

No comments:

Post a Comment