Tuesday, August 23, 2011

an interesting ending, a new beginning

Today was my last day in the study. I went for an exit interview, a slew of paper and computer tests, a blood draw, a final meeting with my study guide assistant. I went in at 10am. First up, a 1 inch stack of paperwork. I filled out quality of life surveys, gratitude surveys, attitude surveys, a death perception survey. I filled out general psych surveys. I answered questions about my goals. I answered questions about my general emotional state. I clicked a mouse for long lines displayed on a screen, and tried to NOT click when the displayed line was short. I clicked buttons to cooperate or not, earning fake money depending on which option the computer chose. I filled out more paperwork.

Then I went down to the lab for a blood draw. Nurse 1 kept thumping my veins and shaking his head. He tied the rubber tubing around one arm, thumped, shook his head. Then he moved the rubber tubing to the 2nd arm, thumped my veins, shook his head. He moved the rubber tubing back to the first arm and stuck the needle in. Missed the vein. He tried again. Missed again. Then he called in another nurse. She repeated the routine. She stuck me once, missed the vein. Stuck me again, said she knew she got it that time, but no blood. She called another nurse. She thumped by veins, found one she liked, and got the sample. I recited my mantra in my head, took deep breaths and tried to keep the nurses calm during the whole procedure.

Bandaids on both arms, and feeling like a pincushion, I went back upstairs. I met with one of the psychologists to discuss my overall experience, what I felt I got out of the psilocybin, the meditation, the mantra, the groups.

THen I met with another psychologist, to talk some more about the study. We talked for a few minutes and then the building began to shake. We both thought it was the construction crew outside, colliding with the building. The shaking got worse. A painting flew off the wall, and the file cabinet drawers started rattling. We ran out into the hall, I grabbed my backpack and we headed down the stairs with everyone working on the floor. When we got downstairs, the guard said it was the entire medical center, not just the building. Not a construction accident, a 5.9 earthquake. We stood out in the parking lot, and did more of my exit interview. I took a few minutes to call home, and make sure everyone was fine.

After about 20 minutes, we got the all clear and went back in. I finished up my interview, and met with my study assistant. We talked about different types of meditation, and she had some suggestions for things I might want to try. We hugged, and she walked me back downstairs.

The study was officially over, with a most interesting ending, I think. I certainly will never forget it.

Today was also a new beginning. Now I meditate because I meditate. I use my mantra, because that's what I do. I don't do it for the study, and I won't have guidance, or input, or requirements. It will be what I do because I want to, or need to do it. And it will be something I do on my own. I look forward to where it takes me.

Monday, August 08, 2011

paper losses don't mean much

I've lost about fifteen thousand dollars this week, on paper. S&P cut the US credit rating, and the resulting uncertainty has sent the stock market into a tailspin. I am not saying this because I want sympathy, or because I am particularly concerned. It's a paper loss, affecting money I have never seen. This is retirement money for us, and we are far from retirement age. So really, while I could sit and gnash my teeth, I have only "lost" what I never really had.

On the other side of the world, in Somalia, 29,000 children have died from starvation. 350,000 more are in danger of suffering the same fate. For their families, this loss is real, and immediate, and devastating.

It seems to me that my little loss just doesn't mean much.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

not so far apart

from the rhetoric flying around washington, you would think that their is a chasm between those on the right and those on the left. I sit firmly on the left. So I wondered how far apart are we, really?

Here's what I believe --

I believe in strong families. I believe marriage depends on two consenting adults, in a committed, monogamous relationship. I think the raising of children is an important endeavor, vital to the success of our society.

I believe in keeping your word. Pay your debts. Be honest. Live an ethical life.

I believe in hard work. I think there is honor in any job well done. I expect to be loyal to my employer, and expect my employer to be loyal to me. I expect a living wage.

I believe in the American Dream. If I work hard, educate myself, and follow the rules, I should prosper.

I believe all citizens are equal before the law, and in the eyes of their fellow citizens.

I want safety, security, health, a solid future for my child.

The big differences are in the details, I guess -- how these beliefs get translated into policy.

I am willing to pay taxes, to live in a world where what I believe is true for ALL Americans, not just some. I am unwilling to prosper on the backs of my fellow citizens. I don't believe what's good for corporations is necessarily good for the people. I don't believe the wealthy need to be protected from paying their fair share. I want equality for all citizens, not just straight, Christian, born in America citizens.

I guess that's the gap.