Thursday, February 10, 2011

Working the life koan

This came to my facebook yesterday from the Dalai Lama: 
The more you think about your own self, the more self-centered you are, the more trouble even small problems can create in your mind. The stronger your sense of ‘I’, the narrower the scope of your thinking becomes; then even small obstacles become unbearable. On the other hand, if you concern yourself mainly with others, the broader your thinking becomes, and life’s inevitable difficulties disturb you less.
I wish I'd read it then - dealing with an exhausting day of medical appointments, mine and Tom's, grocery shopping, driving, and then getting home to find a letter from Huntington saying I had been overdrawn by $15 for seven days and they were charging me $23 for the first day and $7 every day after that.  This was my first notice except for a message in a little box online.  I don't read these messages every day, I bet no one does.They have always been general and didn't apply to me.

Interestingly, the letter was dated Feb. 4, mailed pre-sorted first class, mailed from Columbus, and took five (5) days to get here.  Do you believe that?  I think something's wrong.  The kindest assumption is that it's human error.  But do you know, some years ago another bank did the same thing to me.  (They relented when we discussed it.) Ordinary mail gets here much quicker than that, usually in one day.

So today I intend to go out in this awful cold and explain to them why I don't think I should pay all these fees, for one is supposed to have a 24-hour grace period with overdrafts - but that only works if you know about it. See what we can work out.  Pay what they want, or refuse to.  Then go and start a new checking account at Kemba, where we have our mortgage.  They are a nonprofit, and what a difference in attitude!  Then close the Huntington account.

My first impulse was, I hate these people.  But on examination, the feeling was not anger, but frustration. I'd like my life to be simpler, not more complicated. Ironically, the cause of the overdraft was a holiday gift to the church.  Told them they could withdraw it electronically, as they do my regular pledge, and then forgot to enter it in my checkbook.  Why?  Because I was very sick through December.

That takes me to another frustration today:  I now have tendonitis everywhere in my body that has a tendon, head to feet.  This is diagnosed as a side effect of Cipro, uncommon, but I have lots of risk factors.  It hurts.  Everything hurts.  I am not allowed to take major anti-inflammatories, really really don't want steroids, which throw me into worse moodswings.  And here it is:  it was the wrong antibiotic for the UTI.  I went to the OSU emergency room for, on my transplant nurse's advice.  They took a urine sample to culture. And nobody ever looked at the urine culture, which showed that the bug I had was resistant to Cipro, until I went to the Riverside ER six days later.  They called and asked for the results.  By then it was so bad I had to spend 10 days on an IV antibiotic.  Furthermore, Cipro is a big antibiotic you don't want to become resistant to; you might need it some day.

Okay, human error.  It was Christmas season, nobody wanted to work and serve people.  OSU has a big staffing and oversight problem.  It starts with the nursing and medical schools, which should be screening people not for IQ and grades, but for why they are going into medicine - is it just for money and status and regular employment?  Or do they really want to care for the sick?  Maybe the hospitals need to make it clear when they hire people that everyone will work over the holidays, when many many people get ill from the stress and partying.  It is the worst possible time for doctors to take the week off.  But obviously, many do.

About the pain, my excellent muscular/skeletal doc (sports doc) told me to call him anytime if I need to.  Even over the weekend.  Yes, he did.  He is an Ohio Health doctor.  They have a mission of service.

Okay.  Now, like the Dalai Lama, I need to transcend life's myriad difficulties.  I see the sky is blue outside my window, a sort of watercolor French blue.  The old Austrian pine loves it, you can tell.  The oak branches drink it in, so does the cedar near my window, though it is cold as hell.  It is bringing a koan to mind that I can't quite recall, about What do you do when you are plunged into intolerable cold (or is it heat)?  I know the answer, but can't recall the question.  Maybe someone out there can tell me how it goes. 

Meanwhile, it's time for very gentle body work and meditation, renewing my intention to be kind, including kind to myself and everyone I meet. Then off to the banks.

postscript January 2013.  It turned out they had tried to reach me by e-mail, but I hadn't updated my e-mail with them.  Whoops.  Furthermore, they were polite and agreed not to charge me this time.  There was perhaps an absence of warmth, but who could blame them?


  1. Perhaps you are referring to Dongshan: How does one escape hot and cold? Daido Loori comments on this at:

  2. Thank you. Indeed, I now know two different responses to that useful koan.