I’m not really sure yet just what being mindful means but I caught a glimpse of something tonight that I though was worth writing about. Two weeks tomorrow I go to have a basal-cell carcinoma removed from my forehead. I’m a bit worried about it – a little about how bad it might be, a little about how bad the scaring will be, a little about the days immediately following. It is a busy time. Four days after the surgery, I have a gig with my band and another three days later. A couple weeks after that I’m going on a week-long trip to visit family, then come back to four “pit band” performances for a local high school musical, and then a week later another performance with a local choir. And work, and practices for all those things in between. That’s feeling like a lot. It occurred to me in an unfocused moment during band practice tonight just how much I love singing and playing with my friends and just how good it feels. And I realized that if the hole is bigger or deeper than I hoped, if the stitching or prognosis is worse, if there’s bruising and I’m covered in bandages on stage, being mindful of the goodness of this gift I’ve been given is what will sustain me and give me the energy to do my best. Maybe I should incorporate some mindfulness practice into my music practice.
I woke up this morning not having had enough sleep but I was feeling pretty balanced and had a clear idea of where I was going for the day. By noon, it was clear that the coding I had been planning to do was not as easy as I’d hoped and I’d have to put some stuff off. By two in the afternoon I had a customer with a crash and another with a serious bug and two support guys looking for help from me. I didn’t get in the yoga break I’ve been trying to take every day. And then the insurance company phoned to let me know they’d put off my application until after my surgery for the carcinoma to see what the prognosis would be. If I hadn’t already been feeling overwhelmed that might not have bothered me, because it isn’t so surprising. My balance, however, was gone, and I crashed emotionally. While it is easy to forget, at times, to keep moving forward, I got it today. I managed to finish the code, repair the data, and fix the bug. I put the work away and got in a really good guitar practice and spent thirty minutes on the exercise bike. I reviewed my To Do list and have a clear idea of where I’m going tomorrow. Balance restored.
I don’t know what it is about my physiology but under certain conditions of stress I ache all over. Like dozens of hot little needles deep in my muscles. I’m actually kind of fascinated by how quickly it comes on. Within a minute or so of a trigger, I can feel it run through me. I’ve been pushing through, figuring if I got the job done or dealt with the issue, it would go away. I doubt I’m very effective or efficient when it is at its worst so I’m feeling the need to reinterpret my response. To step away, but not run away, from the problem at hand, and take a bit of time to calm down and find some peace. Interestingly enough, I’m feeling a little bit of gratitude for the fact that I have my very own built in alarm system. Now I just need to pay attention to it.
Finding the time to unwind is a puzzle, between demanding work hours and a long list of interests. One of my things-to-do today was to get a picture describing “warmth” for the Dogwood Photo Challenge. The result is on this post. The enticing hot bath never got used; I went on to do other things that were on my list. I got in a workout and practiced some music and watched a bit of television. The music is part of a busy spring of music. In fact, only four days after I am scheduled for a carcinoma removal, my band is playing two gigs in three days. I’ll need some energy to heal and do well at those gigs. And here’s my first opportunity for learning in that adventure; I need to be more aware of my ability to step back from all the busy-ness, to put my work down from time-to-time, get good sleep, unwind, and be mindful.