Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

I was making a video – something I don’t do often. I’d propped my phone precariously against a water bottle on an upside-down pot and it was catching too much ceiling and too little face.

Maybe it was because I’d finally gotten the perfect angle for lighting. Or maybe because the phone wasn’t threatening to plunge forward just then. Whatever I was thinking at the time, instead of finding something shorter to use as a base, I grabbed throw pillows from the couch and layered three of them on the slippery wooden seat of the chair determined to raise myself to the right height instead of lowering the camera.

As I hoisted myself to the top of the towering stack, the pillows began to slip.

I clutched at the table and missed. The chair flew in one direction crashing to the floor and I went the other. It would have been a laughable non-event had there not been that concrete pillar directly behind me. As I tumbled, the back of my skull cracked hard against the sharp corner of the square column. YOUCH! I pressed my fingers against the at small mountain that popped up and lay on my side on the floor wondering whether I would pass out, throw up, or have a concussion.

I applied more pressure to the lump and waited for ‘what next?’

When nothing happened, I gently removed my hand from the throbbing mound. It was smeared with blood. I hadn’t counted on that. Okay, time to move. I got up slowly, covering the wound with my palm, pressing, pressing… No dizziness. No nausea. I wondered what the back of my white sweater looked like. A fleeting thought.

In the bathroom, I dabbed at my blood-soaked hair with tissues and doused the gash with alcohol all the while thinking, Dangit! I will NOT let this stop me from recording that video today. I’ve already procrastinated too long.

When the bleeding was under control, I checked my face, the scarf at my neck, the white sweater. All good. Even my hair, from the front, showed no sign of disruption. The pain had localized at the point of my wound but only that was throbbing. I did not have a whole-head ache.

Okay, good from the front. Nobody will know the back of my head is hemorrhaging.

This time I did it right. I put the pillows back on the couch and found a prop that positioned the phone at a lower point. After a few false starts, I recorded a decent video. It wasn’t 100% perfect but certainly good enough under the circumstances.

That done, I unpinned my up-do and examined the damages in detail. It looked like a bad scene in a movie where the killer didn’t quite finish the job. I got in the shower taking care not to touch the golf-ball-sized goose egg, and gingerly rinsed out the matted stickiness until the water ran clear.

As I stood there with hot water streaming over me, I reflected on the fact that I almost never have accidents.

I can’t remember the last time I hurt myself. I’ve learned to be mindful. I only allow daydreams when I’m sitting down. Otherwise, I’m riveted to what I’m doing or where I’m going.

Bali was a veritable gauntlet of potential disasters: pieces of sidewalk wide open to the chasm below, a tree left growing in the middle of the path, or a low branch jutting out just where your head should be. Then, too, there were motorbikes going the wrong way on a one-way street, or zooming on the sidewalk to pass slower-moving traffic. I learned to be constantly on the alert.

San Miguel de Allende with its steep inclines, cobblestone streets, perilous stairways up and down the mountainsides pose equally treacherous circumstances.

But I was at home, fixated on making a video – a very uncustomary activity – and I lost my common sense for a moment. A moment is all it takes. One lapse in judgment, one mindless act…

I woke up alive this morning. I think the back of my head has survived though it’s very, very tender. But let that be a lesson to me! There’s no room for stupidity. Ever! You’re old, Sherry! Be careful. Be mindful. Be present. You were lucky this time…don’t press it!

The Dharma of Diarrhea

I enjoyed a fun night out with friends watching a film at Namaste. It was Deepak Chopra doing what Deepak does so well. And if you don’t know Deepak, I’ll clue in in. He was charming an audience with his brilliant mind. And though I’m onto him, I succumbed to his spell and left believing that if you think it, so it shall be. Of course I believe that to a certain degree anyway, but on with my story.

I hit my pillow within moments of returning home and fell asleep instantly. About 2 a.m. something roused me. Suddenly I was fully awake, flinging my bedcovers wildly to the side, and mad-dashing it to the toilet not quite in time. I felt remarkably ill but the cramping subsided and I fumbled in the drawer for fresher undies. Back in bed I employed deep breathing techniques and tried to quell the disturbance in my belly. That lasted the whole of 10 minutes and I was again dashing, and again off in my timing. This story repeated itself until I realized I should just set by a store of clean underthings and minimize my effort. I grabbed a handful of tidy-whites and stacked them conveniently near the toilet.

About this time things were escalating. My body has a strange and familiar routine when it needs to vomit.  First a sensation like a ripple of electricity passes through me. Cold sweat breaks out and nausea of the most wretched kind triggers the gag reflex. Then I pass out. The throne in my current residence sits on a curious little 5″ pedestal. That would allow for a 5 inch greater distance to fall and smack my head on the unyeilding tile floor in the event of a faint.  The electric ripple had begun. I scrambled off the throne and went prone on the tile averting catastrophe. The technique worked remarkably well. I skipped the faint and went straight to full-on vomiting.

The following two days were lost in a delerium of raging fever, chills, and body aches that made me wonder where I had filed the ibuprophen. But I was in no condition to look for it. I had to conserve my energy for the ongoing poop dashes. There had been a single bout of vomiting but I seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of do-do. Ketut came by with fresh young coconut water. I affectionately screamed at him to get out and get as far away from my vile germs as possible. Wayan stopped in and insisted on hacking the nut open and pouring the nutrient packed water into a glass so I could drink it. I began to scream at her, too, but she sushed me and told me she works with patients at the hospital and never gets sick. I meekly obeyed.

It’s now the end of the eighth day of feeling less than wonderful. I have a new found reverence for the word, diarrhea. I also have a s**t-load of dirty laundry secured tightly in a plastic bag that I can’t bring myself to open. I am contemplating just making it go away, but I have visions of roving dogs sniffing it out and distributing my dainties throughout the streets of Ubud. If had a washing machine and could hold my nose, close my eyes, and dump the darned things in a tub of swirling, soapy, water, it would be a non-issue. But no. Every stinky piece must be scrubbed by hand and hung out to dry.


Thich Nhat Hanh

I know what I have to do. It’s a lesson…of course. I remember the teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh where he tells a student, “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.” It’s an exercise in mindfulness. I need to wash the undies in order to wash the undies and take joy in the fact that I have life and breath available for washing the blighted underwear! But not tonight. Not yet. I’m quite certain that tmorrow is destined to be deeply supportive of this particular mindfulness practice!

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