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Monday, October 27, 2014

Mindfulness in the ER

I spent the majority of my Sunday in the emergency room at Mass Eye & Ear. 

I wish you could hear what that sentence sounds like in my head. But I'll get to that. 

Just three weeks after getting the all clear, my corneal ulcer is back. I know it's "back" and not "still" because I could handle being in sunlight these past few weeks, and on Sunday morning the sun became my mortal enemy again. My guess is that since I only had a few days in there when I didn't have a cold, the ulcer probably never truly healed. Or who knows. I'm in my hated glasses and while I'm already doing better, I won't be reunited with my contacts for a good long while. 

I usually love the fall. But this year, I seem to be going from one calamity to the next. Still can't catch a break. Still tired. 

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We both graduated a semester early, with jobs in the city, but still lived on campus. So we took the commuter rail into Cambridge at the same time in the mornings. We rarely found each other on the longer part of our ride, but instead met at Porter Square. The morning view as we crossed the Charles River on the Red Line was just glorious. A hush would fall over the train as we crossed the water and everyone stopped to look. People used to talk to each other more on trains. Now, everyone probably Instagrams the view, spending more time choosing the right filter than actually seeing the view. 

He and I would talk. His first job was kind of boring. He spent a lot of time reading the financial press, trying to learn things. I was busier at my job. There was so much doing where I worked. I had a hard time with stillness, even then. 

He had the perfect Boston accent. "Mass Eye n Ear," he'd repeat after the barely intelligible announcer. It always made me smile. 

I moved into my first apartment in Boston proper a few months later. I missed our train rides. When I saw him again a few years ago, his accent was still there, but in a far less pronounced way. He's become an expert in his field; now, his insights are quoted in the financial press. But I could still hear his voice in my head as I entered the doors of Mass Eye & Ear for the first time. 

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I brought my friend Carla's new book on parenting and the practice of mindfulness with me to the ER. Thankfully, she says you don't *have* to meditate to find some ways of being more mindful while parenting. A good thing, as my breathing is still somewhat jagged from my cold. But I found myself closing my eyes, sitting alone in this crowded ER. 

I closed my eyes and I pictured that view just outside, across the Charles River. I am back to those early mornings when the fog was rising off the water, when we'd wipe the condensation off the windows of the train car so we could see. Sometimes it was so cold that our breath would fog the windows all over again. 

And I realize, I am thinking about my breath after all. 

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