I find many things weird. Most of them reside within my own cranium. After all, that's really the only place weirdness resides -- in a human mind. Like, mine.
One of my weirdnesses is that even though I'm an avid blogger, for the past year I've largely avoided writing about the Central Fact of my life since May 2017.
Namely, my 68 year-old bladder deciding to call it quits during a visit to central Oregon, which led through a series of increasingly disturbing events to my current state of being an Old Man Who Has to Pee Via a Catheter.
I can sum up my situation in two words: not fun. At one point I could have done this with one word: depressing. Fortunately, I've moved on to not fun, though depending on my mood, at times I'd use stronger language, like fucking awful.
I'm not sure where I am on the Seven Stages of Grief.
I'm past Shock, mostly. Denial is tough to hold onto, since I've been doing my catheterization thing for a year. Anger is there, though not as much as it used to be. There's nobody to Bargain with, since three urologists have told me my damn bladder is never going to recover, and I don't believe in a supernatural being who could, say, accept my immortal soul in trade for a fully functioning bladder.
(Since I don't consider that I have an immortal soul, I'd be glad to surrender that nonexistent thing.)
I've gone past Depression with the aid of a Mirtazapine prescription and the passage of time. So that leaves Testing, since I'm nowhere near Acceptance of a condition that I find annoying, irritating, limiting, and distasteful.
Testing, says the image above, involves finding realistic solutions. That's a downer, because I'm much more attracted to unrealistic solutions, like staying high or drunk all of the time.
Given that I've meditated every day for the past fifty years or so, having started during my college Yoga phase in the late 1960's, I've been thinking that more mindfulness could be a step toward a realistic solution, as I wrote about on my other blog in "Mindfulness has become my meditation."
So I've been reading Jon Kabat-Zinn's big thick 600 page book about mindfulness-based stress reduction, "Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness."
One of the things I like about mindfulness approaches is that they don't have the sort of goal-oriented focus that meditation often has. Like, God-realization, a calm mind, emotional control, higher powers, that kind of stuff. Instead, Kabat-Zinn says that mindfulness is simply about remembering as best we can to be present in all our waking moments.
So if I'm sad about having to spend the rest of my life sticking a plastic tube up my uretha five times a day so I can artificially pee and avoid kidney damage, that's OK. I just need to be aware that I'm sad. And because emotions always are changing, at some point I will be less sad. Maybe even happy.
Until I'm sad again.
Which for me these days, doesn't take long. Unless I drink coffee. Then the sadness is temporarily ameliorated, though the urge to pee is hastened. So that's the problem with being high on caffeine all the time, which otherwise strikes me as a fine idea.
It's tough for me to travel long distances given my bladder problem. So I've only left Salem four times in the past year: twice to go to Portland for medical appointments, and twice to central Oregon to spend time at a house in Black Butte Ranch that we have a 1/4 share interest in.
Since mindfulness has roots in Buddhism, and I find Buddhism unduly serious compared to Taoism, I figure that part of my "realistic solution" should be grounded in Taoist philosophy. Here's a quote from the Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English translation of the Tao Te Ching that offers up a semi-spiritual rationale for staying close to home.
A small country has fewer people.
Though there are machines that can work ten to a hundred times faster than man, they are not needed.
The people take death seriously and do not travel far.
Though they have boats and carriages, no one uses them.
Though they have armor and weapons, no one displays them.
Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing.
Their food is plain and good, their clothes fine but simple, their homes secure;
They are happy in their ways.
Though they live within sight of their neighbors,
And crowing cocks and barking dogs are heard across the way,
Yet they leave each other in peace while they grow old and die.
Sounds good. Aside from the knotting of rope in place of writing part. I'm going to stick with my MacBook Pro.
Thus now I've got mindfulness and Taoism as two legs of my Testing/seeking realistic solutions stool. It seems like another leg is needed for stability. I'm leaning toward humor, especially of the cynical, self-deprecating variety, to help prop me up while I'm staying mindfully close to home, leaving my neighbors in peace while I grow old and die.
David Sedaris is a good humor model for me to emulate. I read him early on in his writing career, then lost touch with him. Recently I saw Sedaris interviewed by Steven Colbert, and I liked his style. Got to admire a gay guy who wears shorts to an interview on network TV.
Having bought Sedaris' new book, Calypso, I'm feeling more inspired to take a stab at writing about the humorous side of using a catheter. That will wait for another blog post, since I've blabbed on enough in this post about my favorite subject, me.
I'll simply note that I admire David Sedaris' honesty and sometimes caustic humor. He is marvelously adept at writing about everyday life in ways that simultaneously make me want to laugh and cry. Calypso, I've read, is a bit darker than his other books, which is fine with me, since it matches my mood most days.
Here's a passage from the book that's appealing because my bladder problem has caused me to follow an ironclad rule: I never go anywhere where I can't escape -- for whatever damn reason my body or mind conjures up. Here Sedaris is talking about friends of his partner (maybe husband), Hugh.
His friend Jane saw some ugliness as well, and though I like both her and Sue and have known them for going on twenty years, they fall under the category of "Hugh's guests." This means that though I play my role, it is not my responsibility to entertain them.
Yes, I offer the occasional drink. I show up for meals but can otherwise come and go at my leisure, exiting, sometimes, as someone is in the middle of a sentence.
My father has done this all his life. You'll be talking to him and he'll walk away -- not angry but just sort of finished with you. I was probably six years old the first time I noticed this. You'd think I'd have found it hurtful, but instead I looked at his retreating back, thinking, We can get away with that? Really? Yippee!