I don’t know. Not knowing is most intimate.
I could also call this Tilly and the Raisins.
As in 12 ounces of them. Delicious, shimmering deadly golden raisins neatly packaged in sealed plastic. (Not a rock band as the name might suggest.)
A lot of things lined up in the past few days to bring not-knowing into boldness. Saturday evening, Tilly and the raisins plunged me into runaway, rampant fear. Fayan and Dizang were right there with me, supporting the situation, suggesting I lean in but I found it hard to choose their dharma. I heard it but couldn’t stick with it. This brand of intense physical fear was in small company- the deaths of my parents, our thirteen-year-old niece’s sudden, tragic death in the wilds of the Oregon shore, fire evacuations, surgeries. I could count them.
I sat in the dark with “even this stone”. I remembered that there is (often) “nothing I dislike”. I was disliking this intensely with everything I had. I was pulling from whatever was available to me to ease the terror I was feeling. After a night of no sleeping, my body was still packed with flight hormones. Chemicals were running my show. And my mind was racing, seeking anything it could grab. Good or bad. The buzz felt intolerable.
The candle flame, my breath, the sound and feel of my heart pulsing, counting inhale and exhale, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and again. The floor, my foot, the dawning light from outside, the silhouette of my buddha that still has the beautiful orange envelope in their hands. I walked as fast as I could up the big hill at the local wildland park to outpace my thoughts with a beating heartrate. It felt like I wouldn’t survive this. Those short phrases about not knowing only managed to spur on a deepening, startling version of my fear. It was intimate all right. Not knowing in its small ways and big ways. Because all I wanted and believed I needed was to know. I was as close in as I could get.
Would Tilly, our beloved canine magical companion, our shared daemon, who is at the center of our life live after eating 12 ounces of golden shimmering raisins? The medical danger was entirely real. My love for Tilly is entirely real. The thought of losing her is horrendous. The danger, in part, is unpredictability for which dogs will have a toxic reaction. We simply wouldn’t know until enough time passed and her kidneys had failed or not.
I ran through versions. I blamed myself. I felt guilty. I absolved myself. I plotted treatment plans and outcomes. I reran the details. I wished for a time machine. Thankfully, she got care quickly. We were home, I heard the suspicious sounds of paper rustling and plastic crinkling in the office so I checked. The chaos of feast was strewn all over the room. Soon, Tilly was at the emergency hospital having contents of her stomach coerced back up her esophagus. We had to say “good-bye” at the street door because COVID.
I should say that in the midst of this, a mere 16 hours in, on Sunday morning, I signed on to “A Winter’s Tale” where Allison, Tess, Michelle, and Sarah were teaching at PacificZen.org about uh, …not knowing, living in uncertainty, a pilgrimage without pre-determined destination. I was in my chair attempting to be present, Tilly was in the hospital wondering why, and PZI was again serendipitously being in my life in exactly the way I needed. It will never ever cease to amaze me. Thank you.
After roughly 24 hours, we began getting good news and it has continued. My internal intensity became eased by external events and the fear collapsed. After 72 hours in the hospital with IV fluids and observation (by tomorrow night) they will release her with the promise of a couple of days of follow-up blood tests. She’s eating, alert and well. The relief feels delicious.
Taking note of how it all felt and my responses seems valuable. When and how am I using my practice? When am I asking it to help me and when am I using it to be all in? I love the questions that just keep coming.
Update 1/6/21 — Tilly has been home for a week and is absolutely fine. There’s a new slide lock on the pantry.