POSTCARD#311: Bangkok: 5.30 am. In the quietness of where we are, deep in the narrow lanes of the city where there’s only mature trees heavy with foliage, inhabited by exotic birds, and the first solitary songbird interrupts the silence. It sings its song as if it were a voice saying something in a language I can’t understand, and comes to the end like an unanswered question…
A picture seen in an instant then it’s gone, I lost the word; the memory of an event is displaced by the next moment of remembering. Body moving through the choreography of early morning routine in a background of dawn chorus, huge melodies played on an instrument with a great number of strings… then an awareness of the headache – something that’s bothered me for a long time… it bothers me that it bothers me.
I can see from these explorations into mind-states, that the reason for things being the way they are comes out of nowhere. It just happens by itself, a narrative appears that seems to explain why we are here. Conscious awareness has to penetrate these stories through the layers of belief that Mind is the centre of it all. Mindfulness of it is not enough, it’s more like I have to consciously take the step in order for things to develop of their own accord – and all of a sudden, that thing that bothers me is gone. A little door opens in the mind… “Ping” I can feel it open. I can enter that space, and there it is; the thing that all this is only a small part of – a clear, sharp, vivid, state of clarity – a there-and-then, here-and-now understanding of the limitlessness and vast regions of how things are.
Some time after that, suddenly a shrill squeal from the baby’s room downstairs, a group of aunties laugh and encourage the child to do it again. Silence then another joyous squeal, diphthong two-tone quality of what sounds like a group of words. So this is how we learn…
“Be an island to oneself be your own refuge, having no other; let the Dhamma be an island and a refuge to you, having no other. Those who are islands unto themselves… should investigate to the very heart of things: ‘What is the source of sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair? How do they arise?’ [What is their origin?]” [Attadiipaa Sutta: An Island to Oneself]
The quote quite caught me. Be an island unto oneself. Yes, I can see that is the way but it goes so against the grain of me as introverted as I am. I treasure connection. Is that “wrong”?
No, not ‘wrong ‘, it’s the quality that allows the connection?
May any space we each find ourselves in be a place where we can find solace, belonging, and ease. Headache-land is not an easy one to embrace, but embracing it is all one can do. For there is no outrunning it or outsmarting what just is. As it is. And then it is till it is gone. May you be at ease.
Thanks N, and yes, embracing it is all one can do. I’ve learned that looking after the Headache is a learning process, I can become interested in it. Now two years into this, I find it’s better than it was, They say it gets easier after five, and after ten the memory of life without headache is almost gone, at the same time the mind doesn’t recognize the pain in the way it did at the beginning.
Yes, it is a learning process, isn’t it? Chronic pain often can be. It is either be swamped by it or swim with it and try to float on top when you can, I gather. As for it getting easier, I suppose it does. In some ways. In my personal case of neuralgia and nerve damage and what not of well over 10 years (& migraines for fewer years than that), you do forget how life without pain used to be, and while it can sound morbid, it doesn’t have to be, as days calibrate themselves along the ‘more-pain/less-pain’ scale, which becomes a new normal, of sorts, with its own gradients. And yes, a different relationship to pain, too. It becomes no longer alarming — as pain tends to be, by definition, when it is acute — because one knows it just is, rather than serves as a sign for ‘doing something about’ or worrying about. Also, it helps to have adapted some life-skills, expectations, and ‘stash’ of what works best, all to help make more better days than tough. At least that’s been my experience. And then there’s always the potential of pain changing altogether, and healing. I wish you comfort and ease.
Powerful: A picture seen in an instant then it’s gone, I lost the word; the memory of an event is displaced by the next moment of remembering. Body moving through the choreography of early morning routine in a background of dawn chorus, huge melodies played on an instrument with a great number of strings… then an awareness of the headache – something that’s bothered me for a long time… it bothers me that it bothers me.
Cataloguing experience while coping with head pain – sorry for the late reply David, thanks for your observation.
“No man is an island!
He’s a peninsula”
– Jefferson Airplane.
That too. 🙂
Yes, so this is how we learn! And putting left foot in front of right, or left hand resting in the right, eyes open or shut, depending on the practice at hand. It does seem that in this human existence, even as we have mastered most aspects of life quite handily, new lessons come, new opportunities to learn and grow. Frustrations and fears but also effortful victory and happy accomplishment. Wishing you ease and relief from pain, dear T, much joy in birdsong and the tinkling laughs of baby and the aunties. Hugs, Sunny 🤗🌞
Thanks Sunny for your comment, I’m so slow these days and forgetful, your reminder about how things are, is well received. I’m thinking again that it’s about just doing it and the related parts spring up as you go along. After that, one continues doing it according to experience and picking oneself up after making mistakes also a part of it of course. It’s about applying focus, I know this because it’s exactly what I’m not doing, it seems. Thanks for the encouragement, birdsong and the tinkling laughs of baby and the aunties, all of that too, ha ha…
You are often in my thoughts these days, and for that I—we are eternally grateful. More later. 🌸