Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Put to the Test

Carl Honore's book In Praise of Slowness finally found its way to my fingers last night. The kids in bed, my freshly washed hair in a towel, and the house fairly quiet - ahh. At last. I've been looking forward to this. Needing this. Reading, relaxing. Sinking into a concept that fits my outlook well. 

The book examines the raging Western lifestyle/mindset that declares time is money, and tardiness will slide you into Hell. Presenting a new mindset, one I partially describe in this post,
 Honore artfully opens the portals to a new, gardenesque way of living, one that honors life and beauty, health and relationships, nature and nurture even in the midst of the whirlwind we call 'everyday life'. 

Tom told me this morning, "I'll drive the girls to and from the tutor so you can have the morning off."


I read some more. Feeling very good about it all. "It fits. This is what I want. A thoughtful life that is slow when need be and fast when necessary. Balance."

Feeling refreshed with two more chapters under my belt I decided that I'd do a little straightening up, get myself road ready - at a leisurely pace, mind you, for I was very relaxed - and I'd give the girls their lift home. Blue sky warmth beckoned and Tom was deep in a project. "Thanks for your kindness, but I'll get the girls. I want to." Kiss. Good-bye!

I smiled to myself while driving. "The girls and I can stop by our favorite market for fresh produce and bread for our noon meal. Yes, this will give them a chance to relax a little from their heavy studies." Our market is beautiful and uncrowded. 

In the market we stopped to smell colorful spring flowers, lifted a hand basket for our few listed items, and proceeded toward the produce aisle. My cell phone rang. We are staying close to the phone these days as there has been an ongoing family health emergency this week, one that matters quite a bit to us. Surprisingly, it was Tom on the phone, not my sister.

"Joe's been taken to the hospital. Come home." My twenty-three year old son was experiencing severe pain in his back, so extreme that his boss had driven him to the emergency room.

We replaced the hand basket and headed straight for the car and home posthaste.

Slowness, remember? Every single car in front of me drove at least five miles under the speed limit. People crowded in front of me. The lights changed to red just as I approached. I smiled at the irony. Here I was racing for the hospital when a moment ago I was the picture of soothing calm. 

"Hurry up! Why are you driving so slooow! My son needs me!!"

My crazed mind yielded to calmness at last. "I'll get there. Racing won't take but a few seconds off the time. He needs me to be sane when I arrive, not wild-eyed with road rage." 

It made a difference. I just needed balance. I drove my fastest, safest best while in my mind remembering that life unfolds at its own pace. Events will transpire as they ought. Before me was the choice to contribute to their unfolding in a natural way or to disturb, pulling others into a vortex of unnecessary speed.

Calmness chosen.

Joe is fine. Kidney stone. 

Over the intercom in Joe's hospital room we heard harp music around one o'clock. For about five seconds. Harp music in a speaker that had been silent except for paging of staff.

We found out later that the other family emergency had ended - around one o'clock.

I'm looking forward to my book at bedtime. It's been a weird yet contemplative day.


Wandering Coyote said...

What you recounted here was very much like a situation we'd have in our DBT group. For those of us with BPD, stress reactions like the one you describe are common, and striving for this balance is something we have a hard time doing (that's why we take DBT!). What you did sounded like "radical acceptance," a DBT skill that is quite difficult for a lot of people, BPD or no. You handled it well. You had no control, but you were in control. Perfect.

deanna said...

Wow, Cherie, what a day. Just reading one more blog here before bed and, my oh my. I feel for you as your family situations unfold and reach closure. Poor Joe, but it's so good it wasn't a worse problem.

Ann said...

Hope Joe is feeling better soon!

tshsmom said...

Poor Joe! I've heard that kidney stones are a very painful condition. :(

It's really hard to regain control when the adrenaline is surging. I salute you for handling the situation so well!

Cherie said...

Thanks, WC! I appreciate your assessment of the situation. Made me feel good to know that I actually handled it okay. I wish I could be in such a good place more often. It's a process, right?

Yes, Deanna, as you can imagine we were quite relieved to find that Joe's situation was as mild as it was, all things considered. You know what kind of week we had last week, so you know how frazzled we are.

Ann, Joe was feeling fine when he left here yesterday after being released from the hospital. He went to work today, which is good news. Thanks for your concern and kindness! Hope your daughter and grandson are feeling better from their flu.

Tshs: You heard right. Joe said he thought he was dying when he was in the truck with his boss on the way to work when the pain began increasing to excruciating. He even thought about his last words - tell my family I love them. Pain is quite a thing.

Yes, very hard to gain control with an adrenaline rush. I think the thing that saved me yesterday was that I was in such an extreme opposite state, so very relaxed and focused on creating calmness around me for my entire household. Made it easier to bounce back to center when I went nutso to the other extreme.

I return the salute, and thank you very much. ;)

Anonymous said...

This is such a great post Cherie. You need to tell Joe something for me, "Joe, I feel for you, I had a kidney stone in January. There's nothing so painful. I hope you caught it early, cause man-o-man, do they hurt"!

Cherie, Thanks for sending that message on if you can. As for you, I hope your family situation is okay. Your post holds so true, but doesn't it always seem to happen that when life slows down long enough for us to enjoy a piece of it, something will come up and we suddenly find ourselves at it again? I'm so glad Joe's okay.

You've been through a lot this month, maybe even this winter. I hope you have a chance to get back to that book.

Mike S said...

Glad he's doing better. Had kidney stones years ago, absolutely terrible! Glad you got your adrenaline rush tamped down a hair, hate to have heard you had an accident on the way there.

PENDULUM said...

You had me there for a minute.
Strange, we are aware of how in the blink of an eye our whole life can change irrevocably, and still it ceases to surprise us.
Can we ever prepare for the reality; for the unknown?
I'm glad things are OK.

Cherie said...

Sandy: I gave Joe the message and he grinned. Sadly, he had another episode with the stone yesterday. The doctor took an x-ray and Joe has another appointment to see what's going on. You are right! Man-o-Man does it hurt!

Mike: So you know the "pain that is worse that childbearing" huh. Sorry to hear it, for it is not pleasant. Yeah, I'm glad I calmed down and didn't end up going to see Joe in the emergency room via ambulance. ;)

Sean: I don't think we can ever prepare for the reality of the fact of immediate life-altering change. Our memories don't seem able to contain the realization long enough. Thanks for your good wishes.

The very next day, after Joe's little adventure, my other son, Ben, was in a frightening freeway accident, where he was cut-off by a careless RV driver who cut Ben off and left him spinning out of control only to be hit by another truck. Ben is fine, thank God, but his car is not.

We said a prayer of thanksgiving at lunch today, when Joe joined us for bangers and mash. Thanksgiving that we are all safe today, together, and appreciative of today's mercy in regard to the tenuous line that holds our lives together here on earth - at this same time.

Anonymous said...

Even though I feel like I missed all the excitement, I am glad to hear that Joe is ok.

cecily said...

i was feeling jealous... you have the book and I have been slow to get it. I am not jealous of the kidney stones and concern. I am glad you are all OK. Anyways, the book has arrived at the bookshop (I had to order it in the end) and I will pick it up tomorrow. :)

Cherie said...

Patti: It's the kind of excitement that one doesn't mind missing. ;) Thanks for your concern and your kind words, Patti!

Cecily: And here I thought you'd acquired a copy and were reading through it. Well, I'm reading it slowly, along with a couple of other similar books. Savoring it, you know. So, we'll be reading it together if you begin right away. You'll love it! Thanks for pointing me in its direction in the first place! I'm eager to hear what you think of it.

Gardenia said...

Your posts are amazing. Yes, balance is the key it seems in everything. Some of your experiences early in the day though sound like real peace.

I've tried practicing slowness at times in my life - taking care of my grandma - slowed me down - my grandson slows me down as he discovers the world around him and invents a million things as he discovers.....and I wonder if this is what is meant by learning to be "the moment?" Then, trust - as you made your way to your son after the accident.

Cherie said...

Thanks for your insights, Gardenia. Taking care of the elderly is a good perspective builder. And kids - wow they are masters! They teach us to slow down, to observe, to feel taste touch - be. We'd all do well to pay close attention to the little ones in our midst as you do with your grandson.