The pain medication I’m using tends to make me nod off in the afternoons. It’s not sleep, which I would prefer, but a kind of suspension of wakefulness. The radiation treatments I start next week are advertised to reduce pain very effectively–a good thing in itself–but what I really welcome is the secondary consequence of allowing me to reduce the opioid load I’m carrying.
- Despite spending big chunks of my day nodding off & fighting the drowsiness caused by pain medication, I always seem to be wide awake at midnight.
- I usually have two audiobooks on my iPhone, one fiction, the other non-fiction. Right now, I’ve got Sean Carroll’s The Big Picture & Neal Stephenson’s The Confusion (fourth volume of The Baroque Cycle).
- Wide awake but too tired to do any coherent writing, I can sometimes revise a poem, or a few lines of a poem & sometimes my mind drifts far enough sideways that something interesting happens in the language.
- Or sometimes I just surf YouTube for old favorites or oddities. Stealer’s Wheel, “Stuck in the Middle with You.”
- I have been making a series of drawings done after all the lights are out. I lie on my back with a small sketchpad on my stomach & draw with a black marker. Sometimes I draw a subject, other times just a rhythm or bodily feeling.
- Occasionally, Oliver, who likes to sleep down by my feet will inexplicably decide to creep up and nestle between my arm & torso, laying his head on my shoulder. Then we both sigh & after that I almost always fall asleep.
One of the core doctrines of Buddhism is impermanence & it is also intellectually one of the most straightforward. Things change. Nobody really disputes that–except that when you look a little closer, most philosophical / spiritual systems try to reserve some tiny space for the permanent–that is, when permanence is not front & center, without disguise. But there is no nanoparticle of spirit or matter that is permanent. Nor are conditions permanent. This truth has been sneaking up on me in different ways since I became ill. [Image source: Cafepress]
It is with pain & the temporary relief of pain where this instability of existence has become most apparent to me. When one experiences pain that is not constant, that comes & goes & can be treated with rest, movement, heat, cold, drugs, electrical stimulation & so on, the variables can multiply in confusing & frustrating ways. And these variables play themselves out in the material reality of one’s body. To make this less Continue reading “Impermanence (Part I)”