Saturday, December 19, 2009


When this business of blogging started, my blogging that is, it was an impulsive thing which caught even me by surprise. Without much forethought or long sighted purpose, but more with the intent of seeing how it all worked and then letting evolution have its way, it just happened one day. I certainly saw it as some form of record keeping and in the absence of a clear vision, thought anonymity gave a liberty which lack of self confidence and uncertainty of future content otherwise denied me. So with equal unexpectedness and in no longer than it took to ask myself the question, the answer came that I would launch myself into the ether as 'wanderer', without a capital. I thought the latter affectation important.

My little pseudonym just about covered it - a fair enough expression of the average human condition: probably male in my case, from a previous better place and time, surrounded by increasing decay, and blocked from reversing the ever apparent entropy by a false sense of self importance and specialness. None of that is up for debate. And yes, restricted vision, one-eyed, metaphorically speaking of course. If the reader didn't make the connection it was of little consequence. Well, no consequence actually. Nothing is.

Lately, over several weeks, and more likely months, there has been a slow deterioration in how well I can see with my right eye. Oh, nothing sudden and nothing as dramatic as flashing lights, folds of blackness or signals of major concern, but just the incipient awareness that things aren't as good as they used to be (is anything?), followed by the incredulous thought that vertical and horizontal lines were being deformed by some dark matter of considerable density, and finally the realisation that there was a smeared blurry spot virtually at the centre of my visual field in that eye. This alarming revelation came reading the surtitles in the recent L'Ormindo.

So after a series of consultations with experts in the field, to whom I am blessed to have good access, I am now undergoing treatment for something still incompletely diagnosed. It may be the late onset of a benign reversible and unilateral condition usually seen in younger men than I, or the early onset of a possibly more progressive and potentially bilateral process of the older age group. Prognostication is vague but reassuring. Either way, wanderer has been doing some thinking.

Years of reading, thinking, workshops, discussions, meetings and practice sessions have left a willingness, if not eagerness, to meditate regularly and live in the now. And I try. But what has been exposed is that I am quite good at leaving the 'past', appreciating that there is only the 'present', but have made little progress in dealing with my attachment to the 'future', something I assumed would always fall into place when the need arose. Fear was the engine of all wanderings, and I was ready for it. Well, I'm not.

I went to work yesterday. I had thought about skipping out, getting someone to cover me, taking my self-absorption and the dogs down to the forest mountain house to retreat and lick some wounds. K and I talked about it. There was something, I said, which strangely makes me feel compelled to go to work. The order of the day had been rearranged and while I brought some pressure to bear to change the schedule to better suit my interests (an early finish) there remained an unusual addition to be done. This I knew I should and would do.

He turned out to be a young man with cerebral palsy. His disability from this was moderate involving mostly some deformity of the feet. I had a cousin with severe cerebral palsy with extreme choreoathetoid movements, unable to mouth anything but grunts mostly of giving thanks, a life trapped in talking with a toe pointing to an alphabet on the floor and a paint brush strapped to his head. He is dead now and I am much older, if little more advanced. This man had none of these restrictions, except that he was born blind. Totally. He had no eyes.

He was scheduled to have injections into nerves and tendons located with a nerve stimulator with the aim of reducing the spasms and foot deformity in a procedure usually done under mild sedation so as to facilitate finding the correct locus of injection without the blunting of general anaesthesia. We talked, son, father and mother. He didn't miss what he didn't know, said father. He had no craving to see a Picasso or the sparkle of sunlight on water. The only thing to worry him was not knowing who was in a room with him.

He was gentle and said nothing without his mouth widening into a smile. The procedure was going well in a fluctuating reverie of intravenous drugs of sedation and narcosis. "Are you OK"? "Yes", he smiled softly as they probed his legs. "OK"? "Yes". The last nerve to be found was deeper with less defined external landmarks and the efforts to elicit the defining response were more invasive. His face lost its smoothness. "Are you OK"? "Yes" , he smiled. "Sure"? "Yes", he said slowly. I wasn't so certain. I lent down close to his face, mouth to his right ear, and now we were the only two in the room.

"Is it hurting?" I whispered. "Yeesss" he whispered back. "Do you want to go right off to sleep?" "Yeesss" he said softly. And he did.

In recovery, with complete amnesia for what had happened, he asked how things had gone. Very well I reassured him, they are pleased. So everything will be fixed, he smiled.

He had shone a light. I have abundance but none that matters. He had acceptance and was my teacher.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, we are reading, W.

Feels like a touch of Schopenhauer coming through.