The vitality of Blood Pressure

Vitality–dreams are made up of this stuff, these chemicals that come together in a alchemist sort of way.  Faith & Hope are sacred words, part of the potion that swirls and whirls around the inside of our minds and settles in a peaceful sort of knowing that renders us completely at ease with whatever is.

Whatever is is not the same as our response to whatever is.  Is-ness is different from our response to what is.  And Vitality is a key component to our happiness.  I feel like I am all over the place tonight.  In part my biology is playing with my psychology. And interestingly, earlier my psychology was playing with my biology.

I had a rather benign procedure earlier today.  But it was complicated enough that I elected to have it done in the O.R. rather than in my doctor’s office.  That was a wise choice on my part, despite the difficulty I had convincing the doctor that I was not about to allow anyone to “take-that-route” without anesthesia.  As much as I am fond of the here and now there are some things I would just rather not be present for.

While recuperating from the O-R ordeal, I got a e mail from a patient.  He wanted to know if love really existed. And further, why bother if in the end there are no promises. I answered her with the following:

“Let me do the best i can,”  — “as I am still under anesthesia, from the cyctoscopy I had earlier toady.  Hope and Faith are notions that we entertain in our minds–much like the notions of death and pain and persecution, they exist or do not subject to our will.”

The impermanence of life is a truth from the moment of conception and as well as we are able to accept that, the end of anything is a fact that is inescapable. That’s philosophy at best and biology at its worst.

What is Love?  Wow, that is a big mouthful and one that in my most sober moments I could not really take on.  What I can take on, and indeed believe in is–Vitality, drive, desire, goals and wishes…

Vitality, like well being is something that we aim for.  In a state of vitality we are able to live in the moment and are able to find beauty in a cool gust of breeze, or a ray of sunshine falling though a droplet of water or resting over the horizon.  Vitality is a feeling of well-being that I have come to “believe” in.  I trust my vitality and I trust that i will have it with me from now until my impermanence sets in.  Love is fun in living.  It is about stopping the incessant chatter and replacing that chatter with a calm and cool view of life that starts with the “notion” that I am fine and I will be fine.

I used it this morning.  I went for a procedure got to the hospital for 9:30 and proceeded to have to wait until 12:30 for my turn in the operating room.  I saw that were I to have wanted to I could have been angry. I could have been scared, I could have had just about any feeling that my thoughts could conjure up.  You see, thoughts come before feelings, and feelings precede moods.

I decided, while waiting in the sterile and overly air-conditioned cubby-hole that looked like a parking lot for gurneys than anything else,  to be quiet and to play with the blood pressure cuff that i was hooked up to.  I decided to drop my blood pressure using the monitor as feedback.  I started with a BP of about 140/80.  In about 30 minutes I had lowered my Bp to 114/60………

So. I thought,  if my BP responds, why not my emotions.  I let myself have any thought, but if the thought became doom-like and I experienced  not feeling good, I returned to concentrating on the calm and each time, it would worked.  The BP would come down.

In the bargain that I had in my mind with a former lover, I was going to die first and never have to be alone.  He was 15 years my junior. so I had a pretty good jump on this bargain, but life had twists and turns about which I knew nothing…

I could never have taken care of a dying man for five years—the universe, luck, a series of consequences or just plain—how-it-worked-out, intervened.  Impermanence always wins and if we let that fact interrupt our joy of living, then we lose out in a much greater fashion.  That is, not just lose in the end–the destination, but lose the entire process, the journey.

I am in love with life.  That feels like good-enough for me at the moment. Romantic love is like coming upon a great novel after reading several lousy books.  It is an enthusiastic response to a particular situation, a particular man or woman–or a particular moment.  Romantic love is as predictable as new england weather….I love new england weather, but do not particularly enjoy a 19 degree day in February when the drizzle turns to ice and the lovely breeze is nothing more than a damn cold northeast wind.

Love, like a warm  breeze in summer becoming a chilling wind in winter, has to be seen in context of our greater life’s purpose. To be in love with life does not mean that I love every moment of my existence–pentax up the shaft included.

My major professor while studying to become a psychoanalyst wrote a journal article entitled, “how we aim to be with patients.”  In it she describes than a variable of successful treatment lies in the analyst’s ability to “be” with the patient.  This is in juxtaposition to knowing about the patient.  She always stressed that being with the patient was a most difficult task of a beginning analysis.  Usually that was the case because the feelings and moods being presented in the consultation were feelings and moods that the analyst did not want any part of–too regressed.

As I study, most recently the phenomenon of exiting from narcissism, I am struck by the parallel process that can be found here between how we aim to be with a patient and how we aim to be with our selves.  The routine by which the excessive chatter that seems to emanate from that piece of the ego that is learned must become in alignment with our greater self.  That is to say, we have to aim for the feeling of well-being and adjust our directions in life based on how we align the ego with the self.

Vitality–or the feeling of vividly being alive ought to be able to trump any other feeling.  Vitality, as well-being, demands of our egos that they align with the greater purpose in life.  Our life mission can be at once both the destination and the journey.

But just as surly as we need to come to terms with the fact of impermanence, we need to come to terms with the fact that vitality and well-being must consciously and routinely be invited in.  We are not as likely to stumble on happiness, if we are not consciously on the look out for it.  Health, happiness and success are deliberate, not passive wishes if they are to be manifested.

Vitality, success and well-being are the emotional equivalence to blood pressure. Emotional health & romantic love need to be allowed in deliberately.

A.L. Dussault

Charlestown, R.I.

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