Thoughts on the opposites of beauty for me (after my aortic valve replacement surgery): pain, stereotypes, fatigue, and the dark total forgetfulness of anesthesia, and thoughts on death.
Pain: when I was in pain there was nothing but the pain. No beauty. After cutting open my chest and sewing it up with wire it has taken 3 months for my sternum to knit and heal. Coughing was excruciating, totally absorbing for endless seconds, flashing all too bright, like a super nova, across my universe. Incision pain and heart-healing pain also blocked out the sunshine of beauty. Narcotics dulled the pain yet, and I am grateful for this, beauty still shined, if more slowly and pulsatingly.
Fatigue: Beauty, in our lifetimes, takes a constant steady flow of energy. Energy that I need to see, observe, and be. Post my aortic valve replacement surgery three months ago, there often, to my shock, was/is no energy. None. Period. This has been a huge, sad surprise and shock to me. Usually we/you/I have a constant steady state of energy, energy like cars moving down our freeways of life. Energy that allows me and you to see, enjoy, be. For me it is like running out of gas on the freeway. The power steering is gone, the car instantly starts to slow, and all I have time for is to pull to the side of road. Then, nothing. No energy, no beauty.
Stereotypes: Stereotypes kept (and sometimes keep) me from beauty. When I see myself only as an old man recovering from surgery, sometimes confused, forgetful, steadily declining, it is hard to see my own beauty, and the beauty that surrounds me. Yet, it is still there! I see it in the moments of my walks, and the holding my wife’s hand, in the joy of food, in the laughter and play with our grandchildren, in the compassion, and caring, and service, of my students, myself, my wife, and others. It is these moments that are eternal. I need to remind myself of this.
Anesthesia: I was in total darkness and nothingness when they cut me open, stopped my heart, put me on a heart lung machine, cut open my heart, replaced my aortic valve, put in drainage tubes, shocked my heart into beating again, and sewed my ribs together with wire.
Thoughts on Death: This dark nothingness of surgery fascinates me.
Is this black nothingness (where there is no beauty) what death is? I don’t think so. My belief, and I’m sticking to it, is that death is the coming back to Beauty, God, Love. It is being with those we love, of being surrounded by the white light of beauty that is singing and dancing and pulsating and joyous and full of peace.
And, if I’m wrong, I’ll never know, being in that place of total darkness and nothingness.
But my soul knows, when I am still, and peaceful, and knowing, that death will be returning Home to Beauty, again.