The Buddhists said it first, but it wasn’t until I read it in a science book that I first believed it. Life is an illusion. As scientists learn more and more about subatomic particles, the more they scare me. It’s just unsettling to think that our bodies are composed mainly of space…of nothing. What we think of a solid flesh is actually a collection of teeny atoms surrounded by empty space. One writer speculated that what we perceive as reality is actually a hologram. If I think about this too long, I feel as if I am poised at the top of a very steep water slide about to catapult into an icy pool. And I am a terrible swimmer.
Lately I have been thinking about the nature of reality and have been overwhelmed with the fragility of life and the changing nature of time. Our sweet Pearl was fine and feisty one day, and the next day she was lethargic and refusing food. She wouldn’t even share a donut with Ron for breakfast. Our vet noticed that her eyes had yellowed and he took a blood sample to test. He saw the results and told us to get in the car right away and take Pearl to the emergency veterinary hospital in Greenville. After the long drive we waited until midnight to be seen, and then we were told to leave Pearl with them for further tests. They took a biopsy of her liver and are trying to determine what form of Hepatitis she has and what the best course of treatment is. She spent the weekend at the five star accommodations in Greenville and I brought her home Monday and she has been improving daily. Yesterday she ate dog food from her own bowl for the first time. She has been snacking on hot dogs and American cheese until now.
As I worry about Pearl, I try not to worry about my own health and that of people I love. I have this image in my head of a group of sinister gnomes living in my gut and chortling about what havoc they can cause. (Hahahahcough. How about the flu? Nah, urinary tract infection. Yeah. That’s it.) I imagine my insides looking like a crowd of jelly fish with very thin walls, easily invaded by some fast moving bacteria. The gnomes poke their gnarled fingers through the cell walls and presto, I am sick. It could happen.
But then there is the miracle of medicine. You have a headache and take a Tylenol, and the headache goes away. Pearl has vastly elevated liver function, and a combination of eight different tiny pills makes her feel like a million dollars. Or you are tremendously depressed and you take Xoloft and you can smile again. A tiny pill can improve your mood. It feels like magic to me.
I walk around in a state of constant panic, in spite of a tiny pill I take. How that manifests itself is in the tight grimace that I wear as my resting bitch face. What amazes me, though, is the reaction that face gets. People must think that I am smiling at them, because everywhere I go, people smile at me and tell me hello. Occasionally, someone will ask in a worried voice, “Do I know you?” So, the unconscious smile on someone’s face can touch other people and either make them smile or get anxious. If I had a mean mug, would people get scared looking at me and hurry away? It seems so amazing how something so small can have such a huge result.
The other thing is time. It’s going by way too fast. When I was young, time stretched out lazily before me. A summer day or a math class could last a week or more. A dinner with my mother-in-law could last a month. Now, days fly by and weeks click past like stitches on my knitting needles. Ron will frequently comment as we drink our coffee and tea in the morning, “Can you believe it’s already Friday?”
My friends Julie and Brooke were commenting that they had been at a meditation event and that each of them felt the passage of the same amount of time very differently. One thought the time flew by, but the other thought it would never end.
Not only that, but the seasons race by and holidays crowd each other. One second it’s July 4th and the next it’s Christmas. People often ask me how long I have been in the current Chifferobe location, and I have no idea. Two years? Three? Or how old are my children? Surely they are still teenagers. It’s no wonder I am confused. Everything is so unstable.
This changeable weather makes everything even more confusing. Thursday morning it was 56 degrees at my house. I had to dig out a wool sweater and a blazer. But this is June! It’s supposed to be hot. Instead it feels like late fall, so I’m thinking about turkey dinner. I’m trying to keep my feet on solid ground, but I guess that’s an illusion also.