What do you do when you areSit quietly for a few minutes and become mindful of your breath as it goes in and out. Then contemplate what you do when you’re unhappy or dissatisfied and want to feel better. Even make a list if you want to. Then ask yourself: Does it work? Has it ever worked? Does it soothe the pain? Does it escalate the pain? If you’re really honest, you’ll come up with some pretty interesting observations.
On a scale from one to ten, this pain is so obviously nothing. I have experienced much much worse. But on a grander scale, it is massive. It spreads from my lower jaw around my neck and deep into my heart. This, of course, is not really pain, it is my fear of it.
There was a time in my life, quite a long time in fact, when it would have been incomprehensible to let something so small stop me from being alive. I used to believe that everything was always just down to options, taking steps, brushing back your hair, getting a move on, etc.
To feel so utterly at the mercy of all those
unreasonable terrors that found their way into my clear and pragmatic mind.
There is short moment in episode two of The Honourable Woman where we see one of the characters waking up and before opening his eyes, he whispers the Prayer upon Arising. Strange how this moment has stayed with me. Ever since, a little voice inside my head has been saying, if only I could whisper something mysterious and sacred when I wake up, surely my days will be... what? Better? Meaningful? Serene? Whereas my pragmatic mind just sighs, here she goes again.
In my sunny kitchen, I wash and chop big fat yellow pears. I have watched these pears from their early blossoms to full juicy ripeness, they are my spring and my summer. I fill the juice extractor and force my mind to stay still, watching, collecting, measuring, extra slow whenever my thoughts begin to race. One week, the dentist said. Let's try this gel and if it doesn't work, we take it out. He also said, x-rays can be misleading. Or maybe he said this another time or I read it somewhere.
I pour the juice into the big pot and add the sugar, some lemon juice, star anise and cinnamon. I stir slowly, my mind going in circles. I will need some time off work if the tooth has to come out, I need to ask my immunologist about painkillers and antibiotics, lab work, liver values.
The house smells of pears, I fill the jelly into the jars, screw on the tops and turn them upside down. Beautiful jars of golden jelly, there in the sunlight on the window sill.
Later at work, a friend calls. After complicated surgery earlier in spring, she is now thinking of coming back to work. We talk about pain and painkillers. I know she has gone through hell but still, I blurt out about my tooth ache in my most miserable whiny voice. Whatever happens, she tells me, don't allow it to seize you, to take over, to run your life. She cannot see that I am almost crying now.
On my way home, it has started to rain. I am late and the only person cycling through the dripping forest. The gorgeous dripping forest. I check behind me and down along the path in front, just in case, before I start to shout and cry and howl and laugh. By the time I am out of the forest, my face is wet. Rain, tears, whatever, it's all water.
I push the bicycle down the small lane behind our garden, shaking off the hood, brushing back my hair with one hand.
I know, I feel, I must own this, must stop running from it. I am not quite sure how to go about it. Not yet.