I have felt agitated the last few days. I have been running hot, feeling anxious. It has taken a while to figure out why. Once it was pointed out to me, though, I put my finger on it. I had been taking Great Mender for a busted rib. Jin Gu Die Shang Wan tends to heat the body. Mine is already on the hot side so there are certain herbs I don’t take as they will create even more excess heat. Americans tend to run hot as it is. Then we take red ginseng and other herbs that heat us further. Great Mender is wonderful for helping heal bone injuries but I should have taken something to help reduce the heat from it.
We treat herbs as though they are not medicines. Strange. We think they are powerful enough to be of use but not powerful enough to take the needed precautions. We self-prescribe without knowing much about them or how they interact with different conditions, constitutions, herbs or medications. We treat them like Western medicines when most herbs should be used to treat underlying causes and not overlying symptoms.
Of course, many MDs will do just the opposite, telling the patient herbs are of no use and then forbidding their use. Which is it? If they are powerless, why prohibit their use? But then contradictory stances are nothing new in Western Medicine.
So I cut the dosage down and am feeling better and still healing. The agitation has gone away.
I was feeling useless. With Shelley taking up so much of the day to day functions in the office, I am left to massage therapy, working on patients in tandem with Lee, creating web content, setting up public events, promotion, networking, publicity, and writing a series of essays, poetry and a novel while supervising the illustration of the last children’s book. On top of that, I started a Free Market downtown.
And so I have been feeling as though I am not pulling my weight, even though the weight pulled may well have been quite excessive at the beginning, even though the inertia of that pull is still carrying us forward, I ask, and have done so out loud to my office-mates, “What have I done for us lately?”
I am supposed to take more time to write. When I do, I feel I am shirking my work at the office, most of which is being handled more than ably by Shelley. So she schedules clients most likely to need me around the same time so I am able to take half days or full days to write.
I recognized feeling that was neither here nor there. All the ways I felt are based in real feelings, real assumptions I have of myself, but they were just excuses I used for the agitation. The feelings were there anyway but they were not the cause.
Still, I sat and went over all the horrible things I so often think about me. I spent far too long on this.
Then I thought of the wonderful things people say about me. How misguided they must be. Obviously terrible judges of character. Should I trust people who know me to… See, I will examine this to death. And the more I do so, the more ridiculous it will get. Good, it needs to be obviously ridiculous.
When someone has something negative to say, it is always worth looking at. What grain of truth might there be in it? None? Perhaps. Does something of it ring true? If so, can I learn and grow from it?
If I can learn from that, how about the positive? Should I not listen to that, examine it, learn and grow from it?
Am I really a mensch? Am I really a good man? Does no one really try harder?
My Tibetan name, is Karma Bondru Zangpo. Excellent Diligence. Such a name, given when one takes Buddhist Refuge, is a lesson. It is called a Dharma Name, and it is the person’s best, most prevalent quality. It is also that person’s biggest, most prevalent trap. It is the trait that makes them wonderful and that which trips them up. It is what they do. It is their undoing.
As I diligently examine myself into a state of anxiety, I think of my name, slow down and become just a bit less diligent. The anxiety dissipates just a little.
I have just had the air conditioner replaced in my office. The handyman did not move anything before setting to work. A bookcase fell. The CD cases not broken before are more than broken now. It takes me two hours to clean up the mess. Broken plastic, plaster, sheetrock, books, CDs, cards. It is an opportunity to examine what was there and move something to the front that had, over time, moved to the back of the bookcase. Time to take stock and time to thin the herd.
I find an envelope. It is from a class I took two, maybe three years ago when I was teaching middle school. We work during the summers, most teachers do not have long summer spans free, and this was just one of the many summer classes I had to take. This one was on poetry. Poetry Alive. How to spoon feed sugar-coated poetry to kids who have no interest in it at all. They do performances and classes in school all over the US. That explains quite a bit. The class itself was awful. The idea was to have kids perform poetry instead of read it. If they perform it, they will have to investigate the poems more fully, get deeper into them. Perhaps. But, in the end, it taught close reading, as I taught, and the performance aspect was just a way to allow the teacher to grade the students when a discussion, a real discussion, long, without goal, without preconceived ideas, would have done much better and be far less tacky.
More often than not it resulted in bad performances that would drive even the most ardent lover of poetry to prefer spending his or her time watching reality TV instead.
The teacher for the course had each of us make a bag, a small brown lunchbag, and put it up on the wall. Anytime we felt the desire to say something nice, to compliment a fellow student, we were supposed to write it on a piece of paper and put it in their bag. It was supposed to be anonymous.
We were supposed to decorate it in a way that portrayed our true selves. I did this by not taking a bag. No bag, no decorating. Not pinning it to a wall. No thank you. So the teacher did it for me. Now there’s a lesson for me.
I still do not understand why the notes could not be given directly to the person. Why we could simply not have told the other person. Why was it supposed to be secret?
I pull out that bag now and remove the varying slips of paper.
You are always such a patient and compassionate example to those in the group. You work so hard to help others and to understand them – who they are and what they need. This group would certainly be less without you in it.
Adam, Sometimes I feel like you hold back on getting to know people or letting others know you. You are a wonderful friend, love to spend time with you.
Adam, You exude wit and intelligence and keep me on my toes.
Sage, poet, artist, warm-hearted man. WOW.
An honest sage and philosopher always when we need it most.
I am always amazed at you when we talk.
Thanks for the reality checks.
You are an intelligent, insightful person though, at times, you overanalyze a situation.
Of course I can’t believe people who know me too well and these people don’t know me well enough to be believed. How far do you think that thinking will get me?
Looking at these comments, I realize this must be a different bag. None of this is about poetry, or teaching. Somehow, at some other time, I must have done this exercise with another group. I can’t recall, but the evidence is in my hands.
Evidence. Now comes the analysis. I’ll let you know how it comes out.
June 15, 2009 at 4:44 PM
When I served on my old church's board of directors, we had one of those touchy-feely retreats where we were supposed to Really Get To Know One Another, to the end that we'd work more effectively with one another. Frankly, I think knowing too much about others can sometimes harm the working relationship. You then feel you have to avoid certain hot-button topics, or be overly cautious of others' feelings and so you don't say what really needs saying.At one point we were talking about what we needed from one another. I said I was just a big ol' bag of neediness, always wearing my heart on my sleeve, always aching and openly yearning for connection, and that I was afraid of becoming a huge burden on other people. There was dead silence in the room, and several people had their mouths open in shock. After a bit, someone said, "But Craig–that's not at all the way you come across. We experience you as being completely capable all the time. You're always there for everyone else, ready to listen to problems and give counsel, or be helpful or supportive or make us just feel better. You seem so…self-sufficient. None of us would ever perceive you as being even remotely needy."I promptly burst into tears. That which I needed most from people, I was actually preventing them from giving. Should I have been more selfish? Should I have whined more? Should I have said, "Sorry for your problems, but I have troubles of my own"? How do you say, "I'm feeling lost–comfort me" when you are feeling so lost that you don't have the words or the strength to ask for help? And dammit, shouldn't they just know when I'm in need, the way I can sense when others are in need?How do you shoulder others' burdens without adding them permanently to your own load? How do you put them down, and when? How do you perform excellent diligence and not become a perfectionist who can never live up to his own standards?
Adam Byrn "Adamus" Tritt
June 15, 2009 at 11:59 PM
But those in need have also know if that need is unidirectional and flowing only toward them, they will never actually be needed. So there must be some way to show usefulness to others. People who are in need, and behave so, all the time very quickly find the available population who cn meet those needs, indeed, even want to be near them at all, decrease remarkably, and those needs not being met. Soon, the only people near them are those who have a need to be useful – those who wish to be saviours and those who need to be needed. I guess those relationships work for a while until the saviour burns out or gets crucified.
June 18, 2009 at 9:25 PM
I am fascinated by this entire post and the comments and have little to actually say, except I loved this: "it is the person’s best, most prevalent quality. It is also that person’s biggest, most prevalent trap. It is the trait that makes them wonderful and that which trips them up. It is what they do and their undoing."