Appreciation Friday — #3

Setting: The sidewalk on my block.

Time: One evening this week.

Characters: Young Man #1 between sixteen and eighteen years of age / Young Man #1 between sixteen and eighteen years of age.

[We are approaching each other walking in opposite directions]

BOY #1

[to BOY #2]

I really want to become a better person.

BOY #2


Hmmm . . . me, too.

“Earnest prayer in the form of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo resonates with the Mystic Law that pervades the universe, envelops one’s own life and brings forth the power to break through one’s own inner darkness or ignorance. In other words, the act of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a drama of profound communication or interaction between ourselves and the universe.”

Appreciation Friday — #2

Last weekend I got myself to an emergency room because my left leg, the knee area, did not want to do what it was made to do. It was very painful, slightly swollen, definitely weak, and left me literally hopping on the right leg. It wasn’t spontaneous but cumulative, having started a few days before Christmas. It wasn’t injury-based that I could remember – and I would have remembered. An x-ray revealed a normal joint, so the doctor concluded that it was probably a tendon or ligament. I was given a cane (Oh no! Not me on a cane! My vanity was in full force.), a Rx for Vicodin (which would make only a slight difference), and instructions to use a knee support and heat wraps. I could make an appointment, I was told, with the hospital’s orthopedic clinic.

Last week I saw my primary care physician who, after some questioning and manipulating, diagnosed tendonitis at a point where the hamstring tendon joins with the knee.

A routine trip home by subway turned into an excursion because some trains were running on other tracks and some were not running at all. This information came after a 45 wait for a train that wasn’t operating, so I got on the next train to Brooklyn, a train I’d never taken and which I knew went nowhere near where I lived. My leg was throbbing, the muscle was in spasms, and I was hungry and uncertain. I finally got home with the help of two super-friendly and kind young men, one of whom accessed an app on his phone to find out where and when I could make a connection that would take me closer to my home grounds.

On the way home, I was thinking about what my doctor said: “If you don’t feel a 100% recovery in three months [three months!], come back and I’ll send you to an orthopedist.” Grrrrrumbling inwardly: Why now? I’m engaged in a job search, and I did not need to arrive at an interview with a cane leading the way and a “bad” leg trailing behind. Some first impression!

I thought of all the people with maladies from slight to life-threatening, all those without health insurance. My grumbling was quieted. Even though I’m not working, I have health insurance, thanks to my union. Where would I have been without it? Self-administering. Or racking up more ER charges. I really appreciate the union administrators who made this possible for me. I know that I will get through this. I know that the diagnosis and prognosis could have been different … and worse. I am grateful to the young men, complete strangers on the train, who took so much time and put so much effort forth to help me. I’ve spent money that I could not spare for taxis (a bad leg and descending subway stairs can be a treacherous combination), but I know that that, too, will be okay. And I’m grateful to my Buddhist practice that teaches, among other things, that “those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, but winter always turns to spring” (Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Volume 1, page 536).

Appreciation Friday — #1 (with poll)

Many of us spend so much time thinking about what we don’t have, what we used to have and don’t have anymore, what we think we’ll never have, what we wish we had. My Appreciation Friday posts are meant to highlight what I do and have had, what is around me, what has entered my personal universe. It’s my way of compelling myself to see and ACKNOWLEDGE the lives and events that can escape my consciousness. Conscious appreciation. Looking for what I can be grateful for.

THIS WEEK (January 1-6):

I heard a segment of “The Brian Lehrer Show” about student debt on my local NPR station. So many people are laboring under the weight of student debt as high as $170,000, more than what it was when they graduated. I am grateful that I’ve never had student debt, especially now that I am what they call the long-term unemployed (for now, that is). I attained my first degree with the aid of tuition reimbursement (what a dinosaur, now!) from a company for which I worked. I received my second degree with the support of this same company plus fellowships from the university. I appreciate ABC News and Columbia University School of the Arts for excepting me of student debt. I appreciate being able to manifest what I needed when I needed it.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. (John F. Kennedy)