Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cause, Effect, And Coherence

My biopsy results are not back yet. I don't know if the lab is busy or if my biopsy was sent out to another lab for a second opinion. Hopefully, I will get a result today, or get an explanation of why a result is yet to come. Labs don't like to send a result if they aren't sure, so I have to trust that the little piece of me that they are examining is being seriously considered and scrutinized before informing me of something so important. Another lesson in patience! How many reminders do we all need to just breathe and meet the moment?

There are certain "local" situations in the aspect of the world that can be viewed "mechanically" in which the idea of cause and effect is useful and workable. If I eat too many calories and don't exercise I will gain weight. If I don't put gas in my car it won't run. I can attribute a cause to these dysfunctions and with an understanding of the effect, I can respond and adapt.

But most areas in our lives have so many variables we cannot know all the things we would need to know to draw an accurate conclusion. Even if we can know the influences, there may be too many to track at one time. We tend to oversimplify and want to attribute a cause to things, so we can have the illusion of controlling the effect.

I remember a popular road sign from my childhood, "Speed Kills." I think it was meant as a public safety reminder. If people would drive not exceeding the speed limit, the road would be safer, and the accidents that happen would tend to be less lethal.

I have come to believe this road sign also applies to the pace of our lives. In my lifetime, speed and efficiency have come to be equated with each other. Faster cars, faster computers, fast food, instant results guaranteed! You wouldn't be reading this without my high-speed internet connection. But speed is unknown to biological systems. If we are to partake in non-biological speeds, we need time to rest, recover, and re-synchronize with the slowness of our biological coherence.

I can feel the way I have "braced" myself to live in this world, to strap myself into a metal box and go 65 miles per hour, to adhere to a schedule, to fly to Europe and teach a class for 4 days and fly home, to fetch wood, carry water, and check my email. It's not normal for us to maintain this fast a pace without more rest. Humans are the only mammals that don't regularly nap!

All of this bracing to push on with life leads to aspects of ourselves becoming "incoherent." It's as if the body is an orchestra, and one musician starts playing cacophonous jazz, oblivious to the effect on the symphony. The conductor and the other musicians can try to stop this incoherent rebel, but if they can't, they might just put a box around him to muffle his noise and protect the music. I feel like this is what my body has done. Part of me has gone out of control and has been walled off with hopes for survival. Now I have to see if there's a way to invite the incoherent musician back and join the harmonious whole, or get it to leave.

Some of what I will choose in the next few weeks will be based on information that is in that realm of cause and effect. Some of what I do will be my best attempt to slow down and create an environment for health. "Breathe and meet the moment" continues to be my best strategy for recognizing when and how I can respond and have an impact on my situation, and when I have to accept, adapt, and let go.