I feel centered at the dog park. I come prepared for a big, muddy mess. I wear snow pants and hiking boots on cool days. Cropped pant on warm ones. I really need to invest in some rubber boots, but I’m not averse to just walking into the water with my hiking boots to fetch a drifting ball or interrupt a dog wrestling match that seems to be getting a bit too frenzied.
Most of the people at the dog park are also feeling centered. There are no cell phones out because we know about the random, the huge, goofy grinned rottweiler armed with a drooling ball, the gaggle of clumsy footed labs run-waddling through. (Mud and phones don’t mix well.)
The fences draw clear boundaries wherein the dogs can be dogs. Between eager noses and fetching puppies, there’s hardly time for our minds wander to tasks waiting outside our circle.
We bask in the joy of our dogs.
I’ve been feeling a bit of angst lately, uncentered. My surface self attributed this to guilt.
Each day, though my computer, I watch my colleagues work on deeply significant issues of equity and policy decisions that will determine a future culture for higher education. I see my nearest and dearest friends and mentors heavily involved in fundraising, marches, protests, and peer education, responding actively to political threats and terrorizing attitudes .
And I post videos of my dog. I blog about my diarrhea. I chat about my new kitchen and floors.
I argue with myself, reminding myself that I’m incontinent 1 week out of 3. I require diapers and two hour naps or risk falling asleep at the wheel or pooping my pants while taxi-ing kids after school. I vomit in random places and spaces if I drink too much water without enough food in my stomach.
So it’s OK to enjoy that dog park, to indulge in those naps, to go out to great restaurants with best friends and visiting aunts and cousins.
To focus on my self.
And I enjoy focusing on myself.
I like eating good food, socializing with great people, hanging out in dog parks, binge watching quality TV series — and talking about MY insights to the world, MY insight to YOU.
There’s this tipping point where a healthy, healing focus on the self becomes self-centered.
“Stablish” — I got that term from an amazing breast cancer survivor Mandi, who blogs at http://www.darngoodlemonade.com/. When your liver is so illulminated with bright spots on the PET scan that it’s easier to measure the dark ones, stablish is AWESOME. It’s a term she used to describe that state when some tumors grow (meaning, yes, there is cancer there that is not responding to treatment and WILL spread), some tumors recede and some tumors stay the same…but overall, you get MORE TIME.
When that decaying feeling stops and your liver function improves, “stablish” feels like a miracle. It feels like you could live forever and that you’ve refound a healthy normal.
Francois and I were even talking about my going back to work. He’s a bit nervous about becoming the sole breadwinner on a teacher’s salary. I’m feeling a bit guilty for feeling so good.
So I start to try to puzzle it out. I still wear diapers most days because I’m never sure what my bowels have planned for me. I have days where I need 14-16 hours of sleep. I still vomit at odd times and unpredictably. I have hours of medical appointments to attend. My body is more fragile. And stablish could end any minute. It’s not a good place to put students or colleagues.
But “stablish” feels so good that it feels, well, sinful.
We’ll see where stablish goes. It could morph into stable. And then I could contribute to that amazing work my colleagues do.
And I’ll think about ways I can contribute a bit more to something bigger than myself even without stable.