Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Time on My Hands

                                                It is deep autumn.

                                               My neighbor. How does he live?

                                               I wonder.

-       Basho


I mentioned before these three incidents of extreme vertigo and many ongoing sensations of light-headedness and dizziness. The bloodwork and MRI my doctor suggested revealed nothing out of the ordinary and I’ve had some periods of feeling mostly normal. 


But this past week has been particularly unsettling, with all that energy swirling around my head keeping me from being fully present in my whole body and mind. I remember one moment on my deck in the sunshine when it disappeared and I thought, “Ah. I am alive again!” But it didn’t last long and today was particularly bad. 


I pushed my doctor to make an appointment with a neurologist and she insists on seeing a head and neck surgery specialist. Sounds alarming, but it could have something to do with a pinched nerve. At any rate, my appointment isn’t until May 13th and meanwhile, this is not getting better.


One consequence of it has been noticing something I never feel— the day is too long. There are too many hours to fill. Usually, with my routines of meditation, solitaire, crostics, piano practice, reading, writing, hiking, biking, cooking, cleaning (never mind the periods of teaching again some 6 hours a day), this is not a problem. But though I can still do all those things, they lose their luster when I’m not wholly here and time becomes something to fill in. I’m noticing that it’s 4:30 and too early to eat dinner, or we eat early and it’s too early to plop myself down in front of TV. It’s a weird feeling. 


Like Basho, I have often wondered, “What do other people do all day?” Of course, here I’m betraying a life of comparative leisure, where demanding ongoing physical labor is not required just to survive and am particularly talking to my demographic of “retired” folks. I’ve been grateful for my list of active and fulfilling activities, that sense of time as something to wholly live in at its center rather than killing it to just get through. If we—the doctors and I— can finally name this thing and come up with something to help manage it, I’m ready to get back to it all.


Meanwhile, I just found a transcription of Keith Jarrett’s exquisite rendering of the old jazz standard, “Time on My Hands.” Might as well play it. 


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