Thursday, August 19, 2010
Plots and Zen
I was prepped, that is mostly naked except for a hospital gown (but they let me keep my socks on, and I was wearing nice socks), and wearing an IV, left hearing aid out and in a plastic bowl, glasses off, and Tom sitting beside me. You wait like this for GI procedures, on a gurney in a little examination room with a curtain for a door and just room for a beloved to sit with you.
I was relaxed and in a good mood - yesterday was the worst of it, and I knew I would be unconscious for the procedures. I thought how terrified I had been the first time. I like to lay that down to having a vivid imagination (cancer?) but in fact I think it was neurosis. General anxiety heightened by fear of letting go control of my intimate body, and fear of the results (cancer?)
I said to Tom, "Six years of meditation," meaning that's when I had the last colonoscopy. A day's meditation most often doesn't seem spectacular. You may not be conscious of the ways it changes you. But day after day, year after year seems to have mellowed me considerably.
Lying there I got to thinking about the novel I read last night, a comical-mystery chick lit. It had a number of important plots or troubles, which were all handled like dominoes falling in the last few pages. This is a great problem for writers - how to make the mystery novels to do this smoothly. The explanation of the crime is not nearly as interesting as the detective's process was. This seemed to illuminate something about dying for me - that people who have a lot of plots in their life, things unsolved, may be agonized at death.
Narration, story-telling, is unique among the arts in that it has plots. A plot arises from some disturbance of the main character's equilibrium. Think of Scarlett O'Hara and the luxurious life at Tara just before the war hits. The interest lies in the character's efforts to regain balance. So there is often a fiction to begin with, a life that seems to be perfect until - whatever. A stranger comes to town.
Here's where I transitioned to thinking Buddhist. We readers of novels may very well not have balance in our daily lives. We can spend our lives unsatisfied, complaining, thirsting for that something more - that illusion that would be so much better than the present moment. To me one of the excellent points of the Buddha's story is that he did have it all - all the things people commonly think would make them happy: the money to buy pleasures, power, dancing girls. He had it and perceived its emptiness, how dissatisfying it was. He saw that and did not try to push the truth away.
I am rambling. I was told not to drive today, that I would still be under the sedation. I do feel quite relaxed, but then, I feel that way when I have been given the rest of the day off.
[image: Perfect Leaf, Imperfect Picture.]