Tuesday, May 19, 2009

So change again

I've always liked the story that a Buddhist bookstore had a little sign on a bowl by the checkout: If you fear change, leave yours here. Don't you wish you could sometimes?

As if I needed any more reminders of impermanence these days, I got another blast of change this weekend, an invasion of bacteria. Monday at 4:00 p.m. I entered the doctor's office, the image of a pathetic kidney patient, dark splotches under my eyes so I looked a little like a white pansy with purple splotches. Two hours later we were back home, the UTI confirmed by Science, and I took a Levaquin - a simple little tablet, an antibiotic. I will take four more of these over the next nine days.

It is not for nothing that antibiotics were called "miracle drugs" when they were discovered. Now - 10:00 a.m. Tuesday - I am awake to the world again. I am alive. I am much more "my self." This self, the Buddhist teachers insist, is impermanent, just a collection of parts that are going to come apart again someday. The idea is almost amusing, as if you were a car and the drive train fell out, but I am not convinced. I don't feel like a sort of column of fog created on the stage for a moment, then blown away. No, I want to be Someone, and get things in place. God knows I want those I love, like Sherlock, to stay, and I want to keep the Me that I am when I feel good. I want to discover the secret to making that healthy, cheerful self permanent, and then have a life.

But I have overwhelming evidence once again that "I" can be completely changed by one microscopic bacteria that finds its way through my shredded immune defenses and happily colonizes. And that "I" am a different person a few hours after ingesting a bit of anti-bacteria. So which me is real? And why won't she just stand still?

Well there you are. I am only a poet, but I have a close, personal understanding of the Law of Entropy, which I once read tells us, Everything is constantly going to hell.

This seems like an abrupt place to end this little monologue, but I have been interrupted three times. Now Tom has come to my door suggesting we go out and sit in an outdoor restaurant and watch traffic go up and down High Street. It is a lovely day. So I think it's time to gracefully change my plan.

[image: Impermanence of Containment Installation, by Shawn O. Porter]

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