by Betsy Muller
Wise prophets throughout time have advised that the path to true peace and enlightenment is found in the present moment. This is makes perfect sense when life is peachy, however when things seriously suck, who wants to be fully present to that?
Years of failed attempts at being in the “now” must have eventually allowed me to become more comfortable with the idea of witnessing my own turmoil in the present moment. Facing the many aspects of pain and uncertainty that accompanied my ankle surgery created a perfect training ground, even if I didn’t fully realize it at the time. Perhaps it was because I was forced to slow down for the recovery. Maybe the universe really did conspire to provide me with ways to face the variety of fears and feelings that can be associated with the loss of control.
Witnessing tubes, blood draws, bodily fluids, alarm bells and my husband George’s suffering during seizures and intubation trauma in the ICU so far from home was hard. My children were not able to handle being in George’s hospital room on those difficult days. I quickly got over my fears, much to my surprise. It was okay to be at the bedside without the kids and I was fine. When you love someone and worry they may slip away, being near supersedes everything else.
What both George’s traumatic event and my own injury and recovery taught me – I was never really in control of anything! Yet, I also learned that I could somehow influence the outcome by simply paying attention. All I had to do was add my observations to the situation at hand. My struggles also nudged me to not only explore my responses, emotions and actions, but to also write them down. This brilliant information was then available for future inspection and reflection.
Writing gave me a way of owning each experience, affirming it, exploring the meaning and eventually finding something to appreciate. That I had the audacity to actually share some of these reflections widely with family, friends and strangers (i.e. George’s many friends who I had never met or known very well) was a pretty bold move. I realize now that by doing so, I simplified keeping everyone informed while engaging their prayers, healing intentions and good wishes in the present moment as well.
During the some of the darkest days of George’s ICU stay, being present was actually a very calm place to be. I was mindful of the excellent medical team, how each specialty worked for his highest good, how the day flowed to provide all that I needed and how contact with the outside world could be supportive while giving me time to just be myself. In the present moment, over and over again, I also witnessed myself being a strong woman who was human, yet filled with hope and faith. It was almost like I was the observer from afar, seeing the scenes play out. I was able to feel safe and see beyond the physical situation. Maybe I was reading the energy of it? What I do know is that human intuition works best when calm prevails.
Yes, it is a blessing to arrive on a calm shore in the midst of a storm. It is also a blessing to discover that the storm was an illusion. The good and bad fall away. What’s left is simply what is.