Monday, March 31, 2008

MY TRIP AROUND THE WORLD


World N Hands, originally uploaded by bambino333.

It wasn't a trip I wanted to take; there were no beaches or cocktail hours; and the only souvenirs I brought home are carved into my abdomen. And yet, I traveled far, saw things I'd never seen before. I learned more about the internal and external world than I have on any other trip I've ever taken. My love for friends and family has deepened and changed.

If I could go back and refuse the journey, I'm not entirely sure that I would. I'm not the same person I was when I entered the hospital for the first time on November 28th, and I don't think I will be her again. Her preoccupations are not mine. Her sense of time and priorities are different, too.

If you asked her why she wanted to live, her answers would have been theoretical, and would not always have been borne out by the way she spent her time, or the words that flowed from her mouth all too easily.

There's nothing theoretical about my reason for living now. I think before I speak or act now. Do those words, that way of thinking represent who I want to become? Is a given activity really worth doing or am I doing it because it feeds my ego or alleviates my fears?

In the past four months, I've spent a total of five weeks in the hospital. I shared both a room and many intense hours with unknown roommates from the U.S., China, Equador, Monseurrat, Cambodia, and Panama. I found some more congenial than others, but I learned from all of them.


If I had a choice, I would have opted for a private room, but these "strangers," each enduring their own hour of crisis, blessed me with their lives, their stories, their friendship--and above all their courage. They proved again and again that what we think we want--solitude and a chance to control our environment, is good; but rising out of ourselves and the narrowness of our lives is better.

"My" hospital was a teaching hospital, and I came to love the atmosphere of wild learning that pervaded the place. As one resident told me, everyone there was mentoring someone else. It was an atmosphere where no one knew so much that they couldn't learn from someone else; and no one knew so little that they didn't have something to teach.

That's the kind of world where I want to live; it's also the place within myself where I returned to at the end of my trip. If I have something to give, I want to give it--and without reservation. At the same time, I want to keep my eyes, my ears and my heart open to all that I clearly have to learn from the mentors who startle me at every turn.

55 comments:

Fred Garber said...

Patry...from my vantage point you seem to have lived a thousand lives and gone to the moon and back a hundred times in the last few months. You are still Patry but deeper, wiser and stronger. And keep posting your reflections and feelings! I am learning so much from you.

Larramie said...

Having seen, heard and felt what you want out of life is actually living in the present. And trust, Patry, you're sharing that with all of us now!

KG said...

It's good to be a life-long learner --- it keeps us feeling fresh and young. Eyes wide open with a beginner's mind is a wonderful place to restart.

Judging from your writing, it sounds like you're feeling better! :)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Oh Patry, just when I wonder what I more I can learn from you, I stop over here and am amazed. Thank you for sharing this journey so honestly and so purely. We're lucky be able to join you.

easywriter said...

What a journey you have had and are, no doubt, continuing to have and we have been blessed to travel with you through your writing. We are blessed and enriched to "know you" and to grow with you and through you.

Blessings and light Patry as always.

marja-leena said...

You continue to amaze and inspire me, Patry! Thank you.

rdl said...

You are incredible - but then i always knew that.
sending love.

Dale said...

Bless you, dear Patry. Or -- what am I thinking? Please, bless us :-)

xoxo

Deirdre said...

"...the mentors who startle me at every turn." I love that; it changes the way I look at some of life.

That you can learn such deep, life-affirming lessons in the midst of illness is a promise. And a gift to everyone who cheers you on.

xoxo

Kurt Kuden said...

it moved me deeply.. life is beautiful, isnt it..

thanks a lot Patry..

Lorna said...

your note gave me a very clear, but frustrating insight. As much as we learn from others, as wise as we become by being mentored, life experience is the real teacher. I am humbled as much as inspired by your journey

Ric said...

On a breezy morning, when the page count refuses to move (yet again), inspiration.

Thank you.

floots said...

i have so much to say
but
thank you is all that will come out :)

Laura said...

I wonder if you weren't supposed to be there for all of them as well, Patry.

Still praying- xo L.

Tish Cohen said...

You are so wise, Patry. Beautiful and wise. I wonder if you realize what an impact you're having on the world.

xoxo

LitPark said...

I have goosebumps.

xo

RobinSlick said...

I've been having a tough month. Tish wrote to me and said "Patry has a new blogpost up...it may be the best thing she's ever written."

Now I know why she sent me here this morning. I needed to read that and really hear and understand what you are saying.

I agree, you are having an incredible impact with your words. I will have to take a picture for you - my computer is covered with Patry quotes.

Here's to a beautiful, blissful Spring for all of us.

xo

Left-handed Trees... said...

Patry, I know I'm echoing others when I say that I hope you will keep sharing your journey and insights with your readers here! We all are getting so much back from the words you're giving. Thank you--especially for this quote: "I think before I speak or act now. Do those words, that way of thinking represent who I want to become? Is a given activity really worth doing or am I doing it because it feeds my ego or alleviates my fears?" I needed it...
Love,
D.

saraarts said...

Oh, Patry. Do not undervalue the woman you were before all this. She is still in you, just as the woman you are now was in her all along.

All these people here wishing you well? They love both. Because there aren't really two, you know, just one woman who grows and changes because she is still alive and that's what life is for.

And life is fantastic, isn't it? So glad you're still in it, groping through the big mysteries and little treasures with the rest of us and sharing what you find.

xoxo

Lisa said...

"It was an atmosphere where no one knew so much that they couldn't learn from someone else; and no one knew so little that they didn't have something to teach."

With each post I read here, I am nourished and I am changed.

Amber said...

"Is a given activity really worth doing or am I doing it because it feeds my ego or alleviates my fears?" ---

What a great question to ask ourselves. Really, a person could change their whole life by asking this question.

I am happy you sound so good. ;)

:)

robin andrea said...

I have asked myself the question why I want to live, and the answer changes depending on the mood I'm in. But, after reading this, I realize that any answer that is derived from the luxury of not having to really face a life-threatening crisis, is no answer at all.

I love your awakenings.

Tish Cohen said...

Robin said:
"my computer is covered with Patry quotes."

That just made me smile. Robin, Sue, Laura, Jessica, Patry -- how much do I love you guys?

Patry Francis said...

It's a tired day, grey and rainy (but surprisingly WARM) and my body has been in tune with the weather. I would like to answer all these wonderful comments individually, and may still try to do so later, but for now, what can I say? I love you all.

debra said...

sending you warmth and good wishes and the promise of spring

leslee said...

I love to travel, but sometimes the best part is coming home and sleeping in my own bed. Hope you're getting a rest and gaining strength and healing well.

Mary Ann (Moanna) said...

This posting moved me in so many different ways. Thank you again.

Alex S said...

Patry Patry Patry, you are amazing! xoxo

Sandy Kessler said...

I understand fully

Sustenance Scout said...

As you startle us at every turn, Patry. Looking forward to your collection..... ;)

katrina said...

Oh, my friend. Your post moved me to tears. What a wise, wide-open person you are.

chiefbiscuit said...

Your post reflects a life changing event. You are so generous to share it with us - and with such sublime writing. Be well.

♥nova-san said...

It is truly amazing the places in which we learn about ourselves and the meaning of our lives. One of your learning grounds seems to be the hospital, and as horrible as it was to have to endure what you did through your hospital visits, you have come out of it more enlightened and seemingly purposefully renewed.

tinker said...

You are beautiful and amazing, my friend - as is this post~XOXO

Sandy Kessler said...

meme for you to do on my site http://www.spiritifelici.blogspot.com

Sandy Kessler said...

meme for you to do on my site http://www.spiritifelici.blogspot.com

LitPark said...

Tish, is that the cover of your new book? I love it!

Maryanne Stahl said...

I want to live in that world too. And while I have not endured nearly what you have, nor am I nearly as eloquent and pure of spirit, I take your example as one to follow.

(and along those lines, I hope you don't mind if I beg support for .

Maryanne Stahl said...

ack I did something wrong but if you click on the dot in my last postit gets you to Save Tibet

paris parfait said...

Beautiful post, Patry - proof that one doesn't have to travel far to see the world and learn from its stories. And by telling these stories, you've touched us all. So glad you're home and doing better. You remain very much in my thoughts and prayers. xoxox

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Thank you Patry. To be so attuned to others while in the midst of your own pains and trials seems to me almost supernatural. You are an exceptionally wondrous human being.

NoVA Dad said...

Beautiful post. I pray that things continue to improve for you; if nothing else, your big incentive is that you still owe the fine folks of Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia a massive book signing!! Blessings to you...

Tish Cohen said...

Sue,

T'is, thanks.

xo

Sky said...

So good to hear you are indeed home, and it's not surprising that you have taken this experience and made it into a rich learning experience that in many ways blessed your life.

I am reminded of a friend in Atlanta, a designer who had AIDS before the treatment cocktails existed. He vacationed on Cape Cod for 2 weeks following some depression. He came home a changed man. He talked about bathing in the warm sun on the beach and re-examining his values. He said in facing his illness he had learned what was truly important in life. He saw, he explained, how often he had given attention to things which ultimately did not matter. As he faced this virus he said he came to see the inside of his own heart, found the core of his own life, gave birth to an awareness he had never known, one which changed his life for the better. He found levels of joy and peace and a full acceptance of all of life's twists which he had never before experienced. He told me how much richer his life was. He spent every moment occupied in ways which truly mattered to him after his vacation to the Cape. He changed my life. You have, too.

I am always so touched by your wisdom, your inner joy, and your tender heart. You are such a remarkable woman. I am so glad you came into my life. And, yes, to answer your question - you will indeed join me here again, and we will have tea in the garden. I can hardly wait...so get that body healed and get your traveling shoes ready!

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Thanks for sharing the stories of the roommates. Sure makes it clear that most of us are pretty lucky.
I hope you are home for good now.
{{{Patry}}}

Grace T said...

Hi Patry

I just checked in recently and was sorry to hear about your surgery and the complications.

As someone who has also been through surgery recently (although not as difficult as yours), I feel for you. Just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you and wishing you well.

Grace

Mother of Invention said...

I know what you mean by learning from all your room mates. When I was 13 and a newly diagnosed diabetic (having been in a coma for 7 days... diagnosis was a tad late)I spent 3 months in a Toronto hospital and outlasted too many to count. I still draw on that experience and many others since, to see where I fit in along this continuim of life.

Hope you are well.

Kitty said...

So wise...that's what I've always loved reading your blog. Its rare and wonderful. Thanks for sharing it.

MB said...

Thinking of you, Patry.

Bill said...

Like Blanche Dubois, we all depend on the kindness of strangers. And they can, I know, depend on yours.

starry night
hugging each other
against the cold

mud-splattered car
in the turning lane
another spring

shooting star
the things I do
for attention

J. Andrew Lockhart said...

what a story!! (I heard about you on Bill's blog.)
I'm also impressed by your book. :)

TaraDharma said...

life is precious, people amazing. nothing like going to the edge to remind oneself of these gifts.

thinking of you.

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