Thursday, April 26, 2012

Healing by the Season

It’s been about ten weeks since they sawed a piece of my skull out and entered my brain with a knife, and recovering has been AMAZING, like an early spring. After stubbornly facing brain surgery even when it was very scary, it has been astounding how fast feeling good, even better, returned, after years of feeling mediocre. I don’t have the endless low-grade headache anymore. I can affirm I’ve already lost ten pounds only because I don’t feel the need to energize myself with food anymore. My hair fell out last fall like leaves off an aspen in October, and it is now growing back like the leaves on an aspen in spring, all at once. I’m the star patient of my doctors, an affirmation that they did the right thing.

In the same ten weeks spring sprang on us ravenously and rapidly. Such an early spring that nations are sneezing all around the northern hemisphere.  We struggle to fully enjoy it when concerns about a dry summer rise, and fires are already cropping up like the best produce offered this year. It seems that this is the perfect metaphor for my healing experience. It is nearly impossible to say, “too much, too soon,” but it looms.

I remember this particular early crocus from my miraculous recovery: we were all a chatter of excitement about my return from the land of the dead after my surgery, and it was ravishing! Just like before the evidence of any spring blossoms or greening up even at the edge of a sidewalk, the birds knew everything was going to be all right, we also knew that my brain made it through the roughest patch. Lots of chirping.  Ah. This was one of the happiest moments of my life so far. It didn’t matter that there was still snow here and there. Even though there were the few things I needed to straighten out along the way all that really mattered was that I could bask in consciousness. I could walk, talk and even write somewhat. The birds returned.

Then the amazing buds arrived as I began walking my dog, Lucille, around the trails, and the days became longer, and the sun became warmer. As my body returned to functioning, I was overwhelmed by the beauty around me to the point that I saw shapes, forms, colors as never before and felt the need to begin expressing them as shapes, forms and colors of pastel on paper. The buds blossomed and the drawings blossomed and it was gorgeous inside and outside of my brain. It was one tree after another, one painting after another and the birds upped their ante and sang for connections, and so did I.

It was a thrill to feel better, so much so that when invited to do something that I’d been saying, “No, can’t do that now,” for six months, I struggled to hesitate at all and often slipped into saying, “Yes! Yes, please!” It would have been impossible for the crab apple trees to second-guess their beautiful early blossoms. Wouldn’t it? I simply bloomed with, “Yes,” to everything that was offered at first, until the storm arrived and blew the energy of my artwork out the door because there were other things I’d promised. The wind and sleet blew all of the crab apple trees’ blossoms off before the bees and butterflies made it out of hibernation. I felt sorry for the trees, and this caused me some vague self-pity too. I felt concerned that, perhaps, I should have paid attention to the doctors who urged me to take things slowly.  Yet, I wanted to live up to what I had committed to somehow. It felt unnatural to say, “No,” anymore, even though I was often embarrassed by the result of “phenomenal me” disintegrating. How to stop bursting back, I wondered?

Still, it isn’t exactly like I was returned to mediocrity exactly, any more than the trees sucked in their buds for a later date that would have been healthier. It was some other disconnect. For instance, I’m a good cook and so, almost immediately on release from the hospital, I started cooking for my husband and family and was greatly relieved that I could pick this up where I left off, to the point where I backed away from the help offered me by others. Another early blossom? Yes. Oops. I was like a two year old saying, “I do it myself!”

Now, when my children ask me a question, or I get an idea to write a poem or draw a picture, my attention shifts from cooking COMPLETELY. I burn dinner. I simply forget I am cooking dinner. I can’t say that never happened before brain surgery. I can only say that it was not often, and now it is often. It ain’t incense. I realize late that the lovely assistance of having people help me to cook had nothing to do with my cooking abilities, but with the ability of my brain to focus on more than one thing at a time. I feel silly about asking for help when I am often fine, and unpredictable in my “need” mode, and so it boils down to something else, too.

What do I give my attention to? Necessities? Expressions? Requests? Questions? Decisions? Bah! At least, I am sleeping through the night again.

Kim the Knowing

Multi-tasking turns out to be impossible at the moment. This spring has been strange with all the trees blooming at once somehow, and for me explosions of poetry and the ability to read more than a paragraph and DRIVING my car again happened to me all at once. Oh man. Driving. It is so gratifying to be able to go to pick my kids up from school, to go to the grocery store again when I forgot to buy something (so very often). The trees get their leaves, and  I get my responsibilities.

My concern rises again: Where are the bees?  Normally it is too early to be buzzing around efficiently. They’re just now emerging from their hives a month after all the blossoms. I have seen only one butterfly and the lilacs are in full bloom. The lawns mowed now, but the mountains’ snow is already running down to ponds in a sorry manner so that I see geese and ducks fighting each other for the right to lay their eggs at the few sustainable places. Life cannot happen all at once. I am also the most gigantic spring sneeze I can remember, as I collapse every few days from this, yes,  too-much-too-soon scenario.

Grasping for relief I ask myself, what could I calm down reasonably? I noticed the birds were calmer during mid-day. Not so much chatter. What were they doing? I found that they were nesting. There were the birds flying by with twigs and grass from last year in their little beaks. No time to talk. I followed their direction. Stop chatting so much! I apologize. I have to stop talking all day and focus on building my creations, and this is a huge leap for me into a new state of being. It means I don’t just lay my eggs (my creations) along the way, leave them there for another chance. Actually I create a safe place for them to develop and stay with them until they hatch. Hawks spending chunks of time surfing on the warm funnels of air that rise from the fields give me perspective to see the big picture and not just temporary glories. Maybe if I focused on creating quietly and in a self-protected zone during the day, then I could actually start cooking dinner at 5 pm. Well, it is a thought at least.

Meanwhile the lawn-mowing has brought up a new realization. Summer is almost here. There will be days of tending to things and days where nothing will be tended, and my husband will be out of town for work, and it will be hot and slow. There is only so much time for each thing when only one thing can be done at a time. My kids are growing up so fast. Complexities must be abandoned now. I simply must say, “no,” and clip back at the incredible desire to say “yes” to everything with the understanding this will keep the growth fresh for a while longer.

Maybe it was the scare of having an arrow fly through my life, a brain tumor, and the joy that  life blooms here now. I know it is possible for me to focus only on my own priorities: my creative projects, my family and my time.  Yes, there are going to be fewer blooms, but timed for fruit-bearing pollination hopefully.  

I am improving at the artificial life tests thrust at me by the Universe to see if I know what I know. I see the familiar comfort they offer -- those old ways of pleasing others with predictable patterns, so many blushes of color, guaranteed to squeeze out some approval. I see how that serves no purpose in the long-run. This time I bloomed wildly and early, and I know why. I’ve seen what happens when I walk right into what I fear, and it is good.   There is no pity in the lessons of early spring, the mistakes and sneezes, the blooming gorgeousness. There is no pity knowing it will pass into a summer that will require attention and focus like no other. To every season, turn, turn, turn….

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