Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stuck With It

My husband Tom had polio the year before the vaccine came out, and it changed his body in a number of ways, most seriously, diminished respiratory capacity.  Many surgeries were done on his hands and feet that allowed him to function well in the world, and to work.  But there is no getting around some of it, nerve damage, for instance, and he does not imagine that it will ever be possible to escape or control that; it's his body, and he's pretty content in this world.

It's hard for me to imagine being as accepting as he is, since I keep building fantasies of escaping from or controlling this bipolar disorder.  A new study of DNA comes out and I think, That's it.  This is going to lead to a cure for bipolar.  In my lifetime.  This disorder broke out to stay in my early thirties, so I've been dealing with these hopes and dreams for over three decades.  I modify them at times.  There has to be a way to medicate this that would leave me perfectly normal, without moodswings.  I mean, that could happen.

So this morning when I was reading an article by Bernie Glassman, I was struck by his words.  First, a photo to suggest one reason I like Roshi Glassman.  He clowns around, lest students take themselves too seriously. (That student is Jeff Bridges, BTW.)

And here's another photo of him leading a street retreat, a plunge into living homeless.

This is quite a person and teacher. 

In the article he says -
All of us have some degree of realization and, moment after moment, are manifesting our understanding of the oneness of life. Obviously, the greater the realization, the greater the clarity, the greater the confidence.
      And with all that, even while possessing great realization, we still have our conditioning, our own particular characteristics, our own particular paths. Little of that changes overnight. In fact, there is a great deal that remains unchanged throughout one's lifetime. We acquire from a very early age strong patterns of behavior; we have physical characteristics that we and others sometimes call limitations; we have traits embedded in our DNA that we are powerless to change in this lifetime. It is like drinking from a glass and then washing it of all trace. The washing itself leaves traces. So we wash some more, try different ways of cleaning and drying, yet no matter what we do, some trace is always left......

So you can see why that speaks to me, with my inherited mental condition.  Because if I'm not careful, I get into thinking I can beat this thing, that there is a perfect point between overmedicated and undermedicated that I could sustain day after day and be, you know, normal.  This is a 70-year-old woman who has yet to perfect the art of picking up after herself.  (I work on it, though.........)


  1. You have to laugh at the little stories we tell ourselves. I do that a lot...if this happens, than this will be ok...etc. I had a travel plan fall to pieces, just today. It gaves me the purrrrfect opportunity to practice adjusting to change of not my doing.

  2. Ah yes. My plan to take a course in working with clay just ran up against my plan to have a cleaning person come in every week.........I don't know why I ever expect things to work out "my way."

  3. I am still trying to figure out who is the I, that needs all this confirmation of the way it is supposed to be.
    Where does he reside, in the castles in my mind?

    1. Sometimes I is in strange places. I had a traumatic childhood memory bloom from my shoulder when it was touched during a Reiki treatment.......Somewhere in her writings Joko Beck uses the metaphor of the I as a castle on an island; as we practice, we row a little further out from that island, she said. I know mine is still there, though, coming up with the strangest things like, "Why don't you need coffee first thing in the morning like I do?" Really. Like, why isn't Tom just like me? :)