The pace of progress…
It’s a cool Tuesday morning, earlier than I’m usually up. It’s still only 7:45 and I’ve been working at my desk for about 20 minutes now. Vedic chanting echoes through the quiet of the house, coming from the speakers behind me in the corner of the room.
The nurse scheduled to arrive and rise me this morning from 8 to 10 AM asked yesterday if she could come early as she had a conflicting appointment at 8 AM. We settle on a 6:30 AM arrival to be complete with our activities by 7:30.
I slept well for part of the night, but waking in the early morning I found myself leaning into thinking it must be almost time to stir, while at the same time not willing to move enough to check the clock. I stayed in this future focused limbo for some time, not resting where I was, but cultivating schism between now and later.
Eventually the alarm sounded and I began to move to ready myself for the arrival of my new friend.
She is an RN working for the agency that has been sending care for the last week. Typically she works for the “Home Health” side of things which is the more strictly medical, strictly technical. For the last few days she’s been commandeered by the “home care” side of the operation as they were unable to secure the LVN necessary to perform the bowel maintenance portions of my procedures.
I’ve been rather shocked, though not terribly surprised, to find incredible disconnections in the quality of the organization’s internal communications. On the second day of the woman’s visit, her boss in the Home Health department asked “What!?” She had no idea that the woman was being scheduled by the nonskilled side of the operation. I suspect it was this servant of two Masters created the scheduling conflict this morning.
When I asked the nurse about her next day off, she expressed in plain terms that she had no day off, only working. Her intention, to pay off student loans, but I didn’t get a sense of much vision beyond that.
When she arrived at the house this morning, I could tell her attention and focus were already moving well out ahead of her feet. Each of the separate tasks that make up the morning routine, glass of water, move the bedside table, clear the blankets, remove the nighttime foot protection, etc. were done with some quality of a haphazard disarray. Like me in the dark of the early morning, she was clearly not here with me now, but somewhere later in the day with something else pulling on her coattails.
The urgency of my own need for care, it’s scarcity (there are almost no responses to my multiple advertisements for care, in contrast to nearly every other time I’ve posted the bill in the last decade and a half), the disorganization of the service provider and their apparent scarcity of staff, this gentlewoman’s seeming press for time in life (she said last evening on leaving that she was likely to be up all night charting patients), the state of our world with expanding economic inequality, and ballooning confusion, this is the pace of progress.
Lying still in the morning dark, strange and unsettled dreams wherein I was battling actual monsters intent on my very flesh reverberating through my mind, an agitated sense of time and presence grasping into the future, externalizing my real need for information and rest, subtlety, but not well or clearly planning some goal state of rising. I was focused on progress, but not presence, not integration of the wealth stillness, completeness, fullness, in that moment.
This is the pace of progress. With increasingly efficient methods, tear down what is present, break it into “raw materials” and deliver it for some future state. Whether that is our health (working back to back 12 hour shifts), our families (all marching to the drums of getting the degree, the promotion, the next product or service we need), our landscapes (being overturned for wasted methane farms or suburbia) or our communities (being broken up for some future state of lawful and ordered security), the pace of progress consumes what is valued for what is imagined. It’s time of prominence is coming to an end…
I’m up now, the heater in the house kicks on, the speakers now echoing Buddhist chants, the house otherwise still calm, outside still cool.
Elisa will be coming by in a little while to spend the morning and midday co-wording and helping to make sure I get some water and food before the lovely Miss Cassandra arrives in the afternoon.
Even while the gentlewoman was getting me up this morning and as I noticed and monitored for those points in the process where I would need to hold firm standard (catheter adequately secured, clothing adequately positioned so as not to create undue pressure in the day), she was already somewhere out the door in her hurried expression in the moment, and I was both there in the bed, and here at this desk already composing the title and direction of this writing.
Tomás sent me a video clip this morning, a news article about a man who had been birdwatching in Central Park when an unfortunate encounter with an anxious woman quickly escalated into a life-threatening situation for him at the hands of the police. In the clip, which the man gracefully kept focused on the beauty and opportunity of birdwatching in the park, we were brought to the edge of the “I don’t know what to do” about our debilitating social fractioning.
I wonder though, might there be something in lessening the priority of “progress,” in favor of the slower pace of “integration?” Certainly, collectively we have all been brought to a pause. What if rather than waiting anxiously for the starting gun to run again, we conceive instead that we are not asked to wait, but to reflect, both to ourselves, and with one another, how are we stronger together than we are fractured apart by race, political ideology, national boundaries, or simple fear of one another?
I see this happening in many places already, but let’s start calling out this phenomenon of actually being present to the moment, allowing ourselves to feel the pain of what is and what we have inadvertently created in our endless search for better, safer, richer, fuller, happiness as a pursuit. What if we protected the right, not to pursue happiness, but to rest in gratitude? How might we create that to work?
God gets to know things, we just get to ask questions…