November was a month of extreme joy and deep, physical pain. I had the honor and pleasure of welcoming my beloved home from Afghanistan, which was a moment I will never forget. I also had the excruciating misery of passing a kidney stone—also something I’ll never forget, since it stayed with me for the whole month before its grand exit.
As with all physical ailments, I try to look for the lesson behind it all. What was this 4 mm piece of jagged rock trying to teach me? The whole experience led me down a spiraling rabbit hole where one question just led to more questions. Why must we experience pain? What is the purpose of human suffering? Why do some people have chronic pain? Do we reincarnate with full knowledge of what we’ll go through in human form, or is this forgotten so we’ll have the desire to be flesh once again and continue on our path to enlightenment?
My prevailing thought was that I don’t want to keep going round and round the wheel, returning as a human being again, going through pain again, searching for meaning again, and reliving certain situations because of karma in my past. It all seemed utterly depressing, and it led to the ultimate question that I still can’t answer with absolute certainty: Why am I here? What is my soul’s purpose?
I sought comfort from Buddhism and found Pema Chodron’s works to be most helpful, as I continued to wade through these profound and silent waters.
While I was pondering these mysteries, my urologist was telling me to drink three liters of water a day. As if I weren’t already drowning in metaphysical waters, now I had to embrace my least favorite element in the most primal way—I had to ingest it…a lot of it. Let me just say that I am not one of those people who delights in guzzling H2O. I don’t like feeling “sloshy”—and I often forget to bring water with me to the office, which is a problem, since the water cooler there leaves a lot to be desired.
Today, I bought two 1-liter bottles that I can load up before my day begins. It is my choice to frame my mind toward water as my healer, my preventive measure, and the one thing most likely to help me avoid future suffering from kidney stones. It brings to mind a familiar pagan chant:
Born of water,
Through the whole ordeal, I also learned that I didn’t have to go it alone. My beloved was there for me, even when I was not at my best. It was a powerful lesson on loving and being loved, trusting and allowing, walking and being carried.
So mote it be.