Last night as everyone in my house slept soundly, I drove myself to the ER. I had an excruciating pain across my right back. I couldn’t lie still in bed, and every time I took a breath in I saw bright white light. So I made an executive decision and took myself to the hospital.
While I was sitting in the waiting area, filled with coughing homeless people and crying babies, I tried to breathe shallowly but calmly and be present in the moment. I tried not to worry about what I didn’t even know yet.
My current yogic intention for the summer, my current sankalpa is “Equanimity in all things”. I’m working on reacting to all situations, especially the trying ones, with stability and composure. This was my first opportunity to greet severe pain with a balanced mind, so I tried to embrace the learning experience. Holy hell, this is hard! Just breathe. Stay present.
I did begin to worry about my morning classes. So I calmly sent midnight texts and emails to people, asking for someone to cover for me. (Thanks so very much to my yogis who could.) And I refused to stress about the day ahead. I just have to breathe and stay calm.
After an exam and a battery of tests it was determined that I was having a “bad muscle spasm”. That’s all. This is just a muscle spasm? This sure is some spasm! I was told to take naproxen and a muscle relaxer if I wanted to fill the prescription. And to get some rest. Right, rest.
I came home and slept fitfully in an upright position on the couch, since lying down was not an option. I woke up and moved slowly through the morning so I could send my girls off to school, giving them the most equanimous explanation. “I had some pain that concerned me, so I went to the hospital. They ran tests to be sure it was only a back spasm, and it is. No worries, girls. Off you go!”
And then I sat back on the couch to sleep again; a fitful sleep and a vivid dream…
At one point after wading through a river, I found myself in a town square with my mother and two aunts. My one aunt, who is around sixty years old and autistic was wearing clothes that exposed the front of her body, like a hospital gown. She began making loud grunting noises, removed the gown and started running around in her underwear. My other aunt and I began chasing her around the village green and calling her name furiously. Chasing and calling. Ducking, weaving and screaming. Frantically following her toward a building.
As we got closer to the building I saw a woman coming from the other direction toward the front door. Her hands were filled with what looked like very heavy shopping bags. She looked right at me, in the midst of my panic, with a sympathetic smile. She lifted her burdened arms up and out to her sides, and said “I guess today, we just”.
A young man walking behind her with a head of curly hair and a bright face repeated with a shoulder shrug “Mm hm. Today, we just!”
My throat got dry, my chest constricted and tears welled up in my eyes. That simple expression of acknowledgment and non-judgmental understanding filled me from the inside. I continued pursuing my aunt, but with a very different feeling inside of me. I just followed. I just waited for her to get tired of running. I just did what had to be done. I just.
And then I woke up with a pain in my back and constriction in my throat. In the middle of a messy after-graduation-party-house that needs cleaning. Laundry that needs to be done, plans that need to be made. So many other things I was supposed to do today. Run. Chase. Duck. Weave. Scream.
But something is telling me to slow down. Something is telling me to “just”. So instead of all of those things that I think must be done, I will just.
Today I will merely,
I will simply,
I will ordinarily.
Today, I will just. (end of sentence)