November 10th, 2011

Reading. Meditating. Eyesight

At our age, we spend a lot of time in medical office waiting rooms.  Sometimes we are seen promptly, at other times we are kept waiting an hour, or even longer.  My primary physician never makes me wait.  Our ophthalmologist's office is usually packed to overflowing with patients waiting to see one of six doctors, usually the one we want to see.  Today the total wait was just over one and one-half hours.

Doctors' waiting rooms are often opportunities to read good magazines that i would never read otherwise.  My primary physician has The Smithsonian and The New Yorker.  Unless one is health nut or a sports enthusiast, the best reading in the ophthalmologists waiting room is Highlights for Children.  So today while waiting for Dianne, i tried meditating, which i have successfully done in medical offices before.  I recently read a little poem by Anthony Di Mello which suggested that it is not noise but ego which destroys silence.  Though the office was full of noise, i decided that the only noise i needed to worry about was that provided by my own mind.  So, i sat still, back erect, feet flat on floor, hands held in a Buddhist meditative position and asked my mind to be quiet.  The effect was quite remarkable,  Though i'm certain my ears picked up every sound, perhaps more clearly than usual, i was able to sit in almost total "silence." for a significant period of time   The noise of the room was clearly "heard" yet somehow failed to "penetrate" the "silence."  I ended the meditation refreshed and untroubled by the wait.

Most of the people in the waiting room this morning seemed quite elderly, older than myself, though that probably is not so.  I have always looked younger than my age and many people in their seventies looks as though they were in their eighties or nineties.  But many clearly had mobility difficulties and, i guess, the pain and incontinence issues that commonly accompany aging.  Yet they all seemed patient and unconcerned with the passage of time.  I wondered how many might have also been meditating.  Three years ago, i would have conjured up a Nazi waiting room with victims passively awaiting their fate. a Hopper painted bureaucratic setting with people almost mindlessly waiting their turn, clones of each other traipsing or hobbling off to whatever when their names were called.  Today, i saw thirty individuals, each patient in his his or her own way, with only an occasional lapse of that patience on the part of a very few, who asked gently what the hang up was.

Dianne's eyes are quite good, no problems from diabetes, cataract removals, or a retinal tear.  No changes in vision.