Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Don’t Even Buy Green Bananas

Last year Steve and I were at a weekend workshop with my old Osteopathic teacher Stan Schiowitz. I don’t mean to call Stan “old” even though he is 87. He’s more energetic than I was at 25, back when I first met him 28 years ago. What I mean, is that he was my teacher in “the old days,” back in the early 80s. He now comes to California twice a year to teach a small group of us. I am amazed at his clarity, his teaching ability, and his continual sense of evolving understanding of Osteopathy. Any of you who have had me touch you have felt his hands through me.

Steve asked Stan a question about the future of Osteopathy in the US, and Stan answered, “Don’t ask me things like that; I don’t even buy green bananas.”

That’s how I feel these days. Buying green bananas relies a bit too much on assumptions about the future. I can make an appointment for a week or 2 away, but beyond that I start to get fuzzy. I can’t cope with plans or thoughts or questions about the distant future. It’s not that I’m hopeless or pessimistic, but it all seems so theoretical. I need to stick close to “the moment” and take life as it presents itself to me in the short term.

I have times when I dream about returning to teach in Europe, visiting my friend Carole in Hawaii (where I have never been) or going on some other great adventure, but these goals or plans don’t really help me. They make me anxious, because I inevitably have the next thought, “What if I don’t make it there?” Too much future-oriented living brings me up against the unknown and unknowable, which is challenging enough to face in the present. As another old teacher of mine used to say about too much thinking about the future, "It's a bad neighborhood. Don't go there. You'll get mugged!"

Cancer has made me feel “isolated in time.” I have always had big plans. My personal appointment book is a 2-year planner. Juggling Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, teaching around the US, taking workshops, and visiting far-away friends used to be effortless. Zipping back-and-forth from California to New York was routine. Now it seems presumptuous to make a plane reservation.

I am in shock that the world goes on and that other people have such elaborate plans that rely on the future being a certain way. I see my 17-year-old step-son planning for college, and I am in awe that his life is not isolated in small chunks of time like mine.

I have great faith that if I stay in the stream of life, composed of every present moment strung together into one flowing continuum, that I will have my great adventure somewhere, someday, somehow. I just can’t get attached to the specifics of when it will happen and what that adventure will look like.