I was first introduced to buddhism when I was 14 years old. My boyfriend’s mother was a strong follower and on my first visit to their house she told me that buddha had four noble truths. The first, she said, was that life is difficult.
I was 14. And Buddha was clearly wrong. At least he was to a girl whose sole purpose in life was to seek pleasure.
Buddha, however, managed to get under my skin. I loved his philosophies of compassion, kindness and non-violence and tried to live my life according to these principles. Yet, I could not believe the blanket statement; that life is difficult. Every fibre in my teen, twenty-something and even thirty-something body screamed that life was not meant to be difficult. Difficulty was not why we were born.
Then, this week happened. Let me paint a picture, if you would be so kind as to indulge me a tad:
Life was going well. I had been on anti-depressants for over three years following the trauma of sobriety (more details in another blog perhaps), and the death of my mother. But, the time had come when I realised I no longer needed them. I was, in essence, happy (Yay for me!). Sure, the withdrawal was a little crappy. Well, okay, a lot crappy, but I felt like I would finally understand what life was meant to be. Despite everything that had been thrown at me, I was going to live that happiness, savour it, and I could finally experientially prove my still firm belief that Buddha was wrong, that we are not, indeed, living in a world of samsara (suffering).
Monday; I get two emails from Ebay congratulating me on purchases I have not made. Later that day I receive a phone call from the bank asking me if I tried to make a $450 payment with a credit card I have not used in years. Then, later still, a debit is made from my account in the amount of $52 to PayPal. I check my PayPal account and a purchase has been made from Walmart to some address in Ohio, US. I spend the entire remainder of my day sorting out things with Ebay, PayPal and my bank. I have to close down my credit card account, open another one, change passwords, change security questions. My identity is at risk, apparently. They have access to my credit card details and have changed details of my account.
Tuesday; I’m feeling refreshed, having brushed off my near identity theft. The day bumbles along. I continue to spring clean my life, which includes spring cleaning my house. I sort out cupboards and bake a date loaf to boot. Oh yeah, baby, I am on fire! I pick up JC from school. He is grumpy but that doesn’t phase me. Before long I have managed to get him to laugh. This is a rare feat and I want to shout it from the mountain tops. The sun is shining, there is little traffic on the road and we are laughing out loud. SMACK! Both JC and I are flung forward. It takes seconds for me to realise we have been rear-ended.
“Are you okay,” I ask JC. He shakes his head, but I can see his is physically okay. The emotional trauma of his first car accident will have to come later. I look in the rear-view mirror. A 50-something woman has hit me. She doesn’t get out of the car. I get out, look at the damage on my car and realise just how hard she hit me. I walk up to her window. She winds down her window. Kindness, compassion, non-violence.
“Are you okay?” I ask the woman.
“Well, I would be if you hadn’t stopped so suddenly.”
Breathe, I tell myself, just breathe. We continue onto the side of the road where we exchange details. She is in shock, irritated. I am angry at her. For hitting me, for putting JC in danger, for not apologising. I drive off and the shock starts to settle. I turn to JC.
“Love, forgive me for what I’m about to do… FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!”
He smiles at the fallibility of his mother. Thankfully, we are only five minutes away from home. JC is in shock. He feels sick. I promise to make him pancakes with syrup on them. He devours them telling me over and over again that this is his first accident, that he can’t possibly go to school the following day.
I phone Dee. Hearing his voice enables me to break down. I sob. I let myself go, wholeheartedly.
We spend the remainder of the day sorting out the insurance.
Wednesday; I’m okay. My neck hurts and JC is at home recuperating from his “life altering trauma” (got to love the mind of a 14-year-old). I meet Jay and Baby C. He gets his first taste of solids today – it is a GREAT day. We laugh and I feel so grateful that I am able to be in this moment, share this moment. I ignore the thudding at the base of my skull. Just a head ache. By the time I have come home, my head is pounding.
“Mum, I need to do my project, but I only want to start it at 5.” I look at my watch. 4pm. An hour to medicate, rest and let the headache dissipate.
JC wakes me at 5. I am unable to lift my head. “I can’t JC. I can’t help you.”
“Don’t worry mum, I’ll just ask for another extension.” Damn, damn, damn this headache! I drag myself out of bed. Take the laptop through to the dining area and get JC to sit next to me. “Let’s do this,” I say. In minutes I am seeing double and in agony. JC takes the laptop from me.
“It’s okay, mum. I’ll do it. You just go to bed.”
I can’t argue. I have no power to argue. I return to bed.
A few hours pass and I slip in and out of sleep through an agonising clamp on my head. In the time I am asleep, JC has finished his project, walked over to his grandparents house who have fed him and Dee has come home. I finally wake with a less clamping thud in my head.
“How are you, my love?” Dee asks as he hands me the dinner he has cooked for me. I nod, not feeling totally well, but not as awful as I was before.
“Mum, mum, I finished my project. All. By. Myself. I’m going to do my homework from now on.” He is beaming and the pride in my heart is superseding the pain right now. This is so huge. SO HUGE.
Thursday; I wake to a still dull thud in my head. It grows throughout the day and I realise that perhaps the impact of the crash has given me whiplash. I am in need of a new prescription for the only drug I take now, the one I cannot live without, thyroxin, so I make an appointment to see the doctor. My appointment is at 4. I relax at home, try to ignore my headache. I sort through photographs for new frames I have bought. I miss family. I miss friends. I have resolved to put them around me, in frames.
4pm arrives, I make my way to the doctor. “Hood morning, Sarah, vat can I do for you?” My lovely doctor is a bristly Croatian and I love her. I tell her of the accident and my subsequent migraine. She examines my neck and head. I have no physical pain. She looks at her computer.
“Ve removed the mirena three veeks ago?”
I nod. It was the last of the drugs that I gave up, no more artificial stuff inside my body.
“It is probably vour hormones dat is causing the migraines. The mirena resists the hormones.”
“Oh,” I say.
“You are nearing that age when your hormones vill play havoc.”
I look at her. I’d say the thumping headache was havoc. I also suddenly feel like a shrivelled up prune.
I get my thyroxin prescription and head home.
Thursday night; Thirty years after hearing about the first noble truth, I am ready, Buddha, to admit you are right. Life is hard – it is FUCKING hard. It was always hard. I admit it, I am a slow learner.
Now, bring on the second noble truth baby!!