Yesterday was my three-week anniversary for my total knee replacement surgery. I was told that I would begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel by then, but I can’t really say that’s true. I find it most interesting that, prior to this surgery, the patient is given practically no education as to what to expect, and when questions are asked, “everyone is different” is the standard reply. Presumably, this is so that the patient will not be scared away and the doctors can continue to perform these very lucrative surgeries. As you can see, I have little respect for allopathic medicine as it is practiced in this culture, even though I realize that it is sometimes the best choice. I was pretty sure this was the case here, and I’m still fairly sure, I just wish I’d been told what people are telling me now: give it a year to really feel great, they say. Prior to the surgery, I was never able to uncover more than clinical depictions of the surgery, although I admit I may not have tried very hard. The other day, I came across a “forum” for people who’d had TKR surgery, and it was filled with tales of woe. I think that if I had seen it ahead of time, I might not have had the surgery. I remind myself, however, that the people who had good experiences are probably out dancing and playing tennis. It’s the ones who have problems who write these epistles. I hope not to be one of them, selfishly, but I certainly know how they feel.
If you are reading this, you might ask, is it that painful? Well, not exactly… It’s just difficult. First of all, one’s routines are severely upset, and the smallest thing is now difficult, whether it’s getting into a comfortable position to sleep or brushing one’s teeth. THE KNEE is always there, and it’s usually uncomfortable. There are numerous exercises to do, and they help a lot with pain and mobility, even more than the various opioid drugs that are given, which mainly serve to make one feel befuddled and dopey. They don’t really control the pain, they simply alter one’s perception of it. I wouldn’t want to be without them, because they help me want to move, which is important. But my energy level is zilch, and I suppose the thing I resent the most is that I thought it would be better by this time. “Everyone is different,” they keep telling me, which I interpret as “we’re not going to tell you the truth, because if we did, you’d run screaming.”
It is rather difficult to find God these days, and as a person who depends deeply on an inner life, that is the most awful of all. I realize that the idea, here, is to find God in a bottle of Vicodin (hey, it works for House!), despite my vague feelings of guilt about taking these necessary meds, but between the lethargy they induce and that same vague guilt, it isn’t easy. Of course, there are those moments when S/He/It breaks through it all and says “I’m right here!” As near as my jugular vein. At these times, one has to find the melody between the lines, between the notes, even. It is like examining a piece of woven cloth to find the most hidden but necessary thread. It’s probably good for the concentration, and when found, I am profoundly reassured.
It occurs to me that, just as my Buddhist practices of tonglen and my Sufi practice of Ya Shafee Ya Kafee (invoking the Healer and the Remedy) remind me to use my suffering for the relief of the suffering of the world, so in this particular season, the annihilation and resurrection of the Living Christ provide the ultimate example of how to use my own suffering in this process of soul-making.
Active submission is being receptive to the intelligence of Spirit and living accordingly. Its opposite is the neurotic anxiety and compulsive living that is accepted as normal today. Active submission, the natural state of the essential self, dissolves selfishness, transforms anxiety and fear. At the same time, because it establishes a connection to Spirit, it unlocks our finest and noblest capacities. Because we have cut ourselves off from Spirit, we have swelled with false pride and thrown the world out of balance: Our bodies and minds, our relationships, and our whole ecology is suffering the consequences. The human being has capacities which are unsuspected today and which can only be known through a balance of spiritual submission and energetic activation in relation to our life in the world. –Kabir Helminski, http://www.sufism.org/books/sacred/alien.html
And in this, I suppose, is yet another form of the dhikr. Either God has a peculiar sense of humor, or God makes available to the seeker the deepest experience of love.