Hey everybody! It’s certainly been a long time, too long in fact and I appologize for that. Writers block can be a real pain
What I’m going to discuss with you today does not have anything to do with Taoist philosophy directly, but rather my own life, what’s been happening in it, and the approach I’ve taken when dealing with it.
I’m going to use one specific event actually that happened just over two weeks ago, my appendix burst. I am no longer a whole, complete human.
The Boring Part of the Story
Here’s what actually happened:
I was at work when it happened, it was around 12:30 and I was in the break room chatting with some co-workers. All of a sudden I get a pretty sharp pain in my stomach, something I thought could be severe indegestion despite the fact that I hadn’t eaten anything substantial that day.
After about 30 minutes the pain was only getting worse and ultimately rendered me unable to concentrate on anything I was doing. I turn to my co-worker and informed him that I seem to have swallowed a bunch of razor blades and would be going home to try and sleep it off.
I “sleep” for about three hours, and by sleep I mean drift in and out of consciousness every once in a while as I writhed in pain wondering what the hell kind of demon posessed my abdomen. After enough of this I drive myself to the ER where they perform a CAT scan. As it turns out my appendix was several sizes too large and would have to be removed.
Fast forward a few hours and all the doctors are telling me exactly what they’ll be doing and what the risks are of complications and all this other stuff, then finally comes the big show. An operating room opens up and they wheel me down and put the gas mask on me and next thing I know I’m in the recovery room with three tiny holes in my belly held together with glue. As it turns out my appendix was not only several sizes too big but had in fact ruptured.
My Perspective of the Events
Something you should know about me is that I don’t fear death. I wasn’t always as comfortable with death as I am today but I can genuinely say that Taoist philosophies have helped me deal with what I feel is a perfectly natural feeling, the fear of death.
This is a point I would like to cover in greater detail so I will save it for another article but it is worth mentioning here. At no point in this whole situation did fear, worry, or anxiety come into play. I just trusted what my Grandma said, “Everything’s going to be alright“.
In situations like this, feelings of frustration are pretty common among people. A burst appendix is anything but convenient and when things inconvenience people they get frustrated.
That’s normal and understandable, but if you let yourself get all worked up you’re just going to add psychological and emotional pain to all the physical pain you’re already dealing with.
Rather than letting these things frustrate me, I instead recalled what they Tao Te Ching says in so many chapters “do what needs to be done, then move on, anything else will drive you crazy” (if I may paraphrase).
Everything that happened to me was out of my control. This is an important distinction for people to make because once you do you can save yourself feeling frustrated over things you can’t control. That’s like getting frustrated it’s raining outside, what good is that going to do?
My appendix burst, and there was significant pain, that was an inconvenience to me because I had quite a lot of work to do that day. Rather than get upset about it I did what I thought I had to and went home to try and sleep it off.
When I couldn’t sleep because of the pain rather than get frustrated because I wasn’t getting better I simply did what I had to do by driving myself to the ER to get things checked out.
When they told me I had appendicitis I could have gotten frustrated because of needing surgery all of a sudden, or because of all the things I’d miss due to the recovery time. Instead I laid back and let the doctors fix me up and I’d decided to figure things out from there.
As they were describing all the risks involved and possible complications some people might not be able to mentally get over these things. They get in the habit of latching on to all the things that could possibly go wrong. Instead of doing that and getting myself in a fit I asked myself “well, I mean what’s the alternative here?” There wasn’t one.
When there’s not an alternative then you’re officially being swept away with the current of life. If you let yourself get all stressed out then you’re just trying to fight the current rather than relax and go with it.
If given that choice, be stressed out or be relaxed, and regardless of which one you pick the end result would be the same, what person in their right mind would chose to be stressed out?
The General Idea
Now we’ve uncovered my point here, the appendix thing was unfortunate, but the point of the story is how I reacted to it.
There are times in life where you’re simply not going to be able to let everything go. Unless of course you’re some kind of sage or master but if you are then you’re not going to be learning anything new from this blog.
My point isn’t to say if life makes you frustrated then you’re doing it wrong. My point is that if life does frustrate you pretty often then it’s time to start learning how to recognize the times when things are simply beyond your control.
Those are the times you might find it most difficult to deal with, but those are also the instances where you need to learn how to accept things as they are.
Control what you actually can control, do what you have to do, then move on. Trying to do anything else is just going to drive you crazy.