Time Out of Mind


Time out of mind. Mindlessness makes time go by in a blink, like you never even get a chance to think, head in the clouds, clouds in your head.

Run, run, as fast as you can. Time had been going by so quickly, I felt like I was losing days, like weeks and months were just blurring one into the next, no rest, no reprieve, nothing much accomplished. But so much was happening.

The whole time, my life was happening, but I wasn’t living here. I was living in the past, missing my daughters, missing the desert, missing life in a real city, where there are things to do after 9 pm, where you can grocery shop in the middle of the night, or grab a coffee or some food at 1 in the morning. Missing my friends, my body free of pain and capable of eating whatever I wanted. The longing. The pain of remembering. The yearning for what once was and what isn’t.

I was living in the future. An imaginary place where my daughters will come to visit, when I can hold them in my arms again, when I can be their mother again. I was living in a recovered body, one that didn’t feel pain or go into deadly anaphylaxis from eating or taking time to stop and smell the flowers. One that didn’t worry every time a guest entered our home that they might be wearing a perfume or shampoo might send me to the hospital, but just smiles in welcome and holds out its arms for a hug. A future body that might take walks, and bike rides, one that will swim in pools and oceans and lakes and ponds. A body that can ride a bike, garden, clean the house, drive a car, grocery shop. A system that would bless me with the danger-free ability to ingest ice cream, candy, a glass of wine, cake, steak, sushi, spaghetti, and so many other things. Yes, a beautiful life in San Diego, with my successful business and booming book sales, the gorgeous home on the beach to prove it. Such an amazing, amazing life. A life not now.

Yesterday I finally realized, after many months of this, that this was what I was doing. It felt self-punishing and gross, selfish and depleting.

I didn’t like it, so I watched a mindfulness movie with the desire to re-center with what I know to be true. While there were parts, big parts, that were so cheesy and laughable that I thought maybe I should just turn it off and stop wasting a perfectly good hour on a Friday afternoon watching it, I stuck it out. There, in the midst of some really lame writing/directing/acting, there were also some gems, the exact reminders I needed about what mindfulness means, what it is to practice, to be alive, present in the here and now.

I got back in my body, the present-tense one that still experiences some seriously excruciating pain, but now with reprieves, unlike several months ago when it was a constant. This body can’t go for long walks, or swimming, or bike riding. It can’t do the grocery shopping or drive the car to run errands, or clean the house when I come back home. There are a lot of things this body can’t do in the here and now, but it doesn’t stay curled up in a ball in bed all day, shuddering and writhing in pain.

No, this body, the real one, the right now one, has feet that usually hurt at a 3-5 on the pain scale, and sometimes drop to 0, 1, or 2 for a few seconds/minutes with meditation and visualizations, and sometimes shoots up to a 6, 7, 8, when I’ve overdone it, or it is almost time for my medications, or because G-d only knows why, but rarely in the 8-10 range anymore. This body goes to physical therapy. It wears socks for several hours a day to desensitize them. It can walk my ass not just to the bathroom, but the living room, and for the first ten to fifteen minutes we’re out somewhere like Target or Joann Fabric before it has to make use of my wheelchair, and it’s grateful for the handicap parking placard my doctor applied for on my behalf through the RMV.

And right now there’s no ice cream, wine, or pizza, but I’m also no longer on a rice only diet. Now I’ve got chicken, rice, broccoli, potatoes, butter, milk, salt, and Ensure.

It’s a good body. It is not my betrayer. It wants to heal and repair. Like all living organisms, it is constantly doing its best to return to a state of equilibrium.

My life, present-tense, is such a good life. It isn’t the life I used to have, and it’s not the future I daydream about, but it’s real. That may be the best thing anyone could ever hope for.