Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Time Warped

It is 6 p.m. on the clock in my kitchen. I need the clock to orient me, although it is just a number - it doesn’t feel like anything. It is out of context as I slowly emerge from my longest journey so far - almost 40 hours of travel, including one 16 hour flight. I left my hotel in Kathmandu at 8 p.m. on Sunday night and arrived at my house at 10:30 p.m. Monday night. Nepal is 12.45 hours later than Tucson (yes, they use a quarter-hour difference; no, I don’t know why). I lost track of time, day/night, breakfast/lunch/dinner somewhere over the Arabian Sea when I awoke from my first of many “naps”. I didn’t even try to keep up - I just reset my watch each time I landed. I practiced “be here now” - ate when there was food, slept when I was tired, watched movies, and read. Not bad really.

Wading through the return time warp is different this time. First, my luggage is still on its way back from Houston, so I’m not engaging in the usual unwinding of all that prep and packing as things get washed and put back in their usual places. (All went well in the developing world, where we assume there will be problems. The Kathmandu airport was hot and crowded and chaotic but they managed to get my luggage tagged and on my plane just fine. Here, in the developed world, we have all kinds of computerize systems on which people depend.   Things can look ordered, but there is chaos - like three different places to drop off your baggage after clearing customs and misinformation from people not really paying attention. Welcome home!)
More importantly though, wading through the time-warp is different because when I was working there was a need to get “caught up” - to get “back to it”. Now, there is no back to an it, there is only forward. I can let this re-entry unfold at its own pace.  Integrate the experience in a new way. At some point I’ll catch up with myself and the time zone and be able to process it all. And see how it will shape what forward means. Time will tell.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


No, I haven’t taken up some geriatric version of burlesque. Rather I’m talking about what comes next, after cultivating boredom (see Dare to Be Bored, Feb 2013), namely: stripping away of expectations.
In preparing for my trekking trip to Nepal, I’ve found myself on the excitement/anxiety edge. While I have some sense of what it will be like, the trip is so different from those I have taken in the past (which was the point) that I don’t know what to expect, really. That had me on the edge. But as it gets closer, and all the little details are taken care of, I am anticipating the unfolding. The revelation of the unknowns. Gradually sitting deeper into the moment…becoming more “present” with the experience. I want to make that way of seeing – that way of being - part of me and bring it back. If I can, that will be my most valuable souvenir. If I need some guidance, perhaps one of these Hindu holy men will have some insights:

For now, I’m noticing how good home can feel when you are about to leave it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Looking for Lessons

I haven’t written in a bit because I have been distracted and a little anxious. In February I wrote about seeing more clearly in the figurative sense (Post: I Can See Clearly Now) and the consequences of that. Now I literally cannot see clearly. I’ll spare you the details, but the vision in my right eye is blurry, so everything is a little off. I can’t tell if having this kind of thing happened now that I am retired is better (I don’t have to be reading emails all day in order to get my work done  - and there’s more time to run around to appointments and to get meds) or worse (more time to dwell … worry about what is going on and feel the frustration of navigating doctor office gate-keepers who aren’t listening and cause days of delay as my vision gets worse).

I’m not one to think that everything happens for a reason. I’ve seen some pretty random stuff – good and bad - happen for no discernible reason – to people who did, and people who did not, “deserve it”. Yet I do like to explore whether there is something to be learned or experienced from an altering of things as they were, to something else. An opportunity to see things differently (in this case, literally).   In that I am not cultivating a new career as an impressionist painter, I haven’t come up with anything for this yet. Blurry vision has not enhanced my worldview.

At its simplest, it has been a lesson in dealing with anxiety: think positive – “it’s something that can be dealt with” (which, it turns out, it is) – rather than negative -  “I’m going blind”  - and dealing with frustration: be patient with people who are not entirely competent, or more likely, working in ineffective systems. I failed both these lessons in the past few days. And I kinda don’t care. There is probably a lesson in that too. If only I could see it.

P.S.: Just as I was putting final touches on this and about to post, a friend posted a poem about Dukkha  a Buddhist term, and the first of the Four Noble Truths,  commonly translated as "suffering", "stress", "anxiety", or "dissatisfaction". I think there is a lesson in there somewhere. I’ll have to look for it.

P.P.S (about 5 days later): I think the lesson revealed itself: Admit that I might actually need some help. Ask for help. And the help will appear.