Monday, December 16, 2013
Not Necessarily So
Sometimes it takes a while to figure things out, and then you need to work on a solution. The Buddha said, "All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else."
In this case I have a combination of factors which lead to prolonged severe migraines. The "answer" is a combination of medications which have several undesirable side effects, the worst of which is apathy. I don't care if I eat, take care of myself or do anything but sit in my chair and stare with unseeing eyes at a computer screen.
My choices are to live with a daily migraine, nauseated, unable to endure light, noise or movement, or to take medications which reduce the pain by 80% but leave me in my chair unconcerned about life itself. While I may surface to put laundry in the machine, or look up journal articles for a patient, these are brief moments of arousal from this blanket of darkness.
Zen master Shunryu Suzuki summed up his philosophy with three words: not necessarily so. Suzuki's words suggest to me that my estimation of how much the medication is to blame for my torpor is probably exaggerated. At the bottom of it all I recognize that deep down I'm just angry. I've exchanged one disabling problem for another. I jumped from the frying pan into the fire. I wanted some time without pain, some time when I could do tasks I need or want to do and not have to worry about coping with days of pain and weakness afterwards.
But what it comes down to, in the end, is learning to free myself from anger, at my own body and its limitations. And that is something I can only do moment by moment.