Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
I threw the I Ching today. Mumbo-jumbo to some but not to me. I only consult when I feel absolutely, positively stumped. "The superior person when consulting the oracle formulates her question precisely in words, and regardless of whether it concerns something distant or near, secret or profound, she receives -- as though it were an echo -- the appropriate oracle which enables her to know the future."
Once again, this ancient Chinese oracle threw me for a loop and left me feeling... well, back on the path.
I've included the complete answer because of the beauty of it, the language both cryptic and synchronous, but if you're so inclined, feel free to scroll down and get the more modern interpretation.
Question: What is going on with Sophie and why am I not coping? What to do, what to do?
Kên / Keeping Still, Mountain Above KÊN KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN Below KÊN KEEPING STILL, MOUNTAIN
The image of this hexagram is the mountain, the youngest son of heaven and earth. The male principle is at the top, because it strives upward by nature; the female principle is below, since the direction of its movement is downward. Thus there is rest because the movement has come to its normal end.
In its application to man, the hexagram turns upon the problem of achieving a quiet heart. It is very difficult to bring quiet to the heart. While Buddhism strives for rest through an ebbing away of all movement in nirvana, the Book of Changes holds that rest is merely a state of polarity that always posits movement as its complement. Possibly the words of the text embody directions for the practice of yoga.
So that he no longer feels his body.
He goes into his courtyard
And does not see his people.
True quiet means keeping still when the time has come to keep still, and going forward when the time has come to go forward. In this way rest and movement are in agreement with the demands of the time, and thus there is light in life.
The hexagram signifies the end and the beginning of all movement. The back is named because in the back are located all the nerve fibers that mediate movement. If the movement of these spinal nerves is brought to a standstill, the ego, with its restlessness, disappears as it were. When a man has thus become calm, he may turn to the outside world. He no longer sees in it the struggle and tumult of individual beings, and therefore he has that true peace of mind which is needed for understanding the great laws of the universe and for acting in harmony with them. Whoever acts from these deep levels makes no mistakes.
The image of KEEPING STILL.
Thus the superior man
Does not permit his thoughts
To go beyond his situation.
The heart thinks constantly. This cannot be changed, but the movements of the heart–that is, a man's thoughts–should restrict themselves to the immediate situation. All thinking that goes beyond this only makes the heart sore.
Keeping his toes still.
Continued perseverance furthers.
Keeping the toes still means halting before one has even begun to move. The beginning is the time of few mistakes. At that time one is still in harmony with primal innocence. Not yet influenced by obscuring interests and desires, one sees things intuitively as they really are. A man who halts at the beginning, so long as he has not yet abandoned the truth, finds the right way. But persisting firmness is needed to keep one from drifting irresolutely.
Keeping his hips still.
Making his sacrum stiff.
Dangerous. The heart suffocates.
This refers to enforced quiet. The restless heart is to be subdued by forcible means. But fire when it is smothered changes into acrid smoke that suffocates as it spreads.
Therefore, in exercises in meditation and concentration, one ought not to try to force results. Rather, calmness must develop naturally out of a state of inner composure. If one tries to induce calmness by means of artificial rigidity, meditation will lead to very unwholesome results.
Keeping his trunk still.
As has been pointed out above in the comment on the Judgment, keeping the back at rest means forgetting the ego. This is the highest stage of rest. Here this stage has not yet been reached: the individual in this instance, though able to keep the ego, with its thoughts and impulses, in a state of rest, is not yet quite liberated from its dominance. Nonetheless, keeping the heart at rest is an important function, leading in the end to the complete elimination of egotistic drives. Even though at this point one does not yet remain free from all the dangers of doubt and unrest, this frame of mind is not a mistake, as it leads ultimately to that other, higher level.
Keeping his jaws still.
The words have order.
A man in a dangerous situation, especially when he is not adequate to it, is inclined to be very free with talk and presumptuous jokes. But injudicious speech easily leads to situations that subsequently give much cause for regret. However, if a man is reserved in speech, his words take ever more definite form, and every occasion for regret vanishes.
Above CH'IEN THE CREATIVE, HEAVEN
Below CHÊN THE AROUSING, THUNDER
Ch'ien, heaven is above; Chên, movement, is below. The lower trigram Chên is under the influence of the strong line it has received from above, from heaven. When, in accord with this, movement follows the law of heaven, man is innocent and without guile. His mind is natural and true, unshadowed by reflection or ulterior designs. For wherever conscious purpose is to be seen, there the truth and innocence of nature have been lost. Nature that is not directed by the spirit is not true but degenerate nature. Starting out with the idea of the natural, the train of thought in part goes somewhat further and thus the hexagram includes also the idea of the unintentional or unexpected.
If someone is not as he should be,
He has misfortune,
And it does not further him
To undertake anything.
Man has received from heaven a nature innately good, to guide him in all his movements. By devotion to this divine spirit within himself, he attains an unsullied innocence that leads him to do right with instinctive sureness and without any ulterior thought of reward and personal advantage. This instinctive certainty brings about supreme success and "furthers through perseverance". However, not everything instinctive is nature in this higher sense of the word, but only that which is right and in accord with the will of heaven. Without this quality of rightness, an unreflecting, instinctive way of acting brings only misfortune. Confucius says about this: "He who departs from innocence, what does he come to? Heaven's will and blessing do not go with his deeds. "
All things attain the natural state of innocence.
Thus the kings of old,
Rich in virtue, and in harmony with the time,
Fostered and nourished all beings.
In springtime when thunder, life energy, begins to move again under the heavens, everything sprouts and grows, and all beings receive from the creative activity of nature the childlike innocence of their original state. So it is with the good rulers of mankind: drawing on the spiritual wealth at their command, they take care of all forms of life and all forms of culture and do everything to further them, and at the proper time.
Ken reminds you that if your mind is full of clutter it will not be able to hold new thoughts and ideas. Ken appears when you have a need to take a break and withdraw from the world for a moment in order to clear out the old in your mind to make way for the new. Meditation is the key to this process. It is not simply a time for rest. It is not an easy task to free your mind from daily worries, but it is necessary to do so, so that you can see and think more objectively than before. Old thoughts hinder your actions, compelling you to make the same mistakes. Clear them out - don't let them trap you.
Friday, March 27, 2009
I noticed that Sophie had the faraway look in her eyes. She kept turning her head to the right and chewing her food in slow-mo. I got frustrated and pulled her chin forward. This went on a little more, the boys chattering as usual and then Sophie really turned her head to the right and proceeded to have a BIG seizure. Again. At the table during a meal. I lowered her to the floor and on the way down, I glanced up and noticed Henry, his head hanging down. I noticed when Sophie's stiff hand hit Oliver, who was sitting next to her, that he glanced down, too, and pushed it away. They both said, "Wow, it's big" and maybe Henry asked whether Sophie was all right before he got up, brought his plate to the sink and literally ran out of the kitchen. I asked him to bring me a pillow, and he did that. He brought a pillow and helped me to put it under her head, but then he was gone, out the door and outside. Oliver, on the other hand, got down from his seat and knelt down for a second with me, patted Sophie's shoulder as she seized and then he ran off and outside, too.
I sat on the floor and tried to make Sophie as comfortable as possible. I was crouched next to her and I was suddenly overcome, NOT by worry for her, but worry for these boys. I suddenly had this weird feeling that they would only remember this one day. Their mother, crouched over their sister who lay on the cold kitchen floor after seizing. I sat there, literally sobbing, allowing myself the worry. What would they remember of me, the mother of their childhoods? Would I be remembered as sad? As broken or damaged? Would they remember just how many seizures they have witnessed. Would they remember feeling disappointed that the new drug really didn't work?
I only write this, here, to make it clear. Words make things clear. I am aware that there is a strange selfishness, a self-absorption, really, in worrying about what my children will think of me when they are adults. How they will remember me. Because I am not me for them. I am just me. Helpless to be anything but that. Surely they will remember a lot more of me and certainly I am not me just to please them. This knowing and unknowing is what my mothering is about. This closeness and protection and helpless letting go, this awareness, beaten into my head day in and day out about control or lack thereof. That desire is not enough. That I am hanging on.
I loved rollercoasters as a kid. I held my hands up and screamed on the descent, my heart in my throat, my eyes squeezed shut. I hate them now. The pounding beat, the clack of the wheels, the metallic smell, the push forward and down, the wind blinding me.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Today was Purple Day and you can read about it HERE.
The boys talked about it this morning, and the conversation went like this:
Me: Hey guys, today is Purple Day, when you're supposed to wear something purple and increase awareness of epilepsy.
Oliver: I don't have anything purple to wear but how did that girl do all of this when she has seizures?
I realize that I have some educating to do right here at home.
It seemed that everywhere I went in Los Angeles, I saw purple. Not on people, but on flowers, in nature. And it was beautiful.
Things are looking up.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I almost forgot to tell you about this. A little girl named Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada has led a grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. Tomorrow, March 26th, people from around this beautiful world are asked to wear Purple and spread the word about epilepsy.
Epilepsy affects over 50 million people worldwide (my Sophie is just 1) . That's MORE than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's combined.
LAVENDAR is the international color for epilepsy.
For more information click HERE.
And check back here for some purple photos tomorrow!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I had a good laugh, today, with my friend Jennifer in Wisconsin. We met through work that we both do for children with special healthcare needs. One of the truly blessed things that happens when you have one of these children is that you meet people and are instantaneously bonded to them despite vast differences. This doesn't always happen for me -- there are plenty of mothers and fathers from whom I'd rather run. But Jennifer is a blessing -- she's intelligent and funny and warm and caring. She's dealt with her daughter's seizure disorder with uncommon grace and humor, and she's always willing to bounce around ideas. Today's telephone discussion revolved around The New Drug. She's considering putting her daughter on it and wondered what I thought. I gave her the update -- that Sophie is doing somewhat better although it's nothing to feel ecstatic about. The side effects appear minimal and my main concern is that I've been unable to locate anyone who knows about it or is trying it. Jennifer said that she knew of several people who were, and we decided that we all, in a sense, have a Banzel bond. I've been calling the drug rufinamide because I just can't stand the trade name.
Who names these drugs anyway, and is there any sense to their monikers? I decided to surf around word origin sites and broke the word into what I thought were the two roots:
ban and zel
Here's what I found on the Online Etymology Dictionary for ban:
O.E. bannan "to summon by proclamation," a sense surviving only in banns of marriage (1198; spelling with double -n- attested from 1549), which also is partly from O.Fr. ban "public proclamation," from Frank. *ban, cognate of the O.E. word. Main modern sense of "prohibit" is from O.N. banna "curse, prohibit," and probably in part from O.Fr. ban, which also meant "outlawry, banishment." O.E., Frank. and O.N. words all are from P.Gmc. *bannan "proclaim, command, forbid" (cf. O.H.G. bannan "to command or forbit under threat of punishment," Ger. bannen "banish, expel, curse"), from PIE base *bha- "to speak" (cf. O.Ir. bann "law," from the same root; see fame). Sense evolved from "speak" to "proclaim a threat" to "curse." Banned in Boston dates from 1920s, in allusion to the excessive zeal and power of that city's Watch and Ward Society.
And here's what I got for Zel:
Zel Zel A Moorish finger cymbal.
Non-English Usage: "ZEL" is also a word in the following language with English translations in parentheses.
Romanian (Ardor, ardour, devoutness, eagerness, earnestness, fervour, forwardness, gumption, metal, mettle, readiness, solicitude, vim, warmth, zeal).
I'm not sure what all this means:
Proclaim a threat to mettle?
You might just think I'm crazy to ramble on here about the origin of the word Banzel otherwise known as rufinamide otherwise known as the The New Drug that is sort of working for Sophie.
But I also stumbled on this:
"Where, some hours since, was heard the swell
Of trumpet, and the clash of zel."
Thomas Moore: Fire-Worshippers
I'm going with the zel and forgetting about the ban. I'm hoping that Banzel is a cause for celebration. NOt just for Sophie but for Jennifer's girl and any other family brave or desperate enough to try something new.
And I'm still going to call it rufinamide (don't get me started...).
Monday, March 23, 2009
I'm usually not a mush, but I had what I call a good clean cry over it. It comes from the gut and it's not about sorrow. It's about a washing away and letting go.
Here it is:
Saturday, March 21, 2009
It's also the first day of Spring, so here's another photo and a poem.
Poem on a Line by Anne Sexton, 'We are All Writing God's Poem'
by Barbara Crooker
Today, the sky's the soft blue of a work shirt washed
a thousand times. The journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step. On the interstate listening
to NPR, I heard a Hubble scientist
say, "The universe is not only stranger than we
think, it's stranger than we can think." I think
I've driven into spring, as the woods revive
with a loud shout, redbud trees, their gaudy
scarves flung over bark's bare limbs. Barely doing
sixty, I pass a tractor trailer called Glory Bound,
and aren't we just? Just yesterday,
I read Li Po: "There is no end of things
in the heart," but it seems like things
are always ending—vacation or childhood,
relationships, stores going out of business,
like the one that sold jeans that really fit—
And where do we fit in? How can we get up
in the morning, knowing what we do? But we do,
put one foot after the other, open the window,
make coffee, watch the steam curl up
and disappear. At night, the scent of phlox curls
in the open window, while the sky turns red violet,
lavender, thistle, a box of spilled crayons.
The moon spills its milk on the black tabletop
for the thousandth time.