12 May, 2011

The Path to Enlightenment is not Always Pretty…

oh, what a life.  On Friday, I was bragging to some volunteers how I never get sick; regardless of the country, food, etc. I just don’t get sick.  This is true to some extent as the last time I was sick (really sick) was the week before I headed to Belize .  I flew in from Austria and must have caught something from one of the many plane rides.  I was soo totally out of it that for days I just laid on my mom’s couch and moaned while she took care of her newly turned 40 year old daughter as if she was a child.  My mom is such a great care taker that if you had googled “mother of the year” the whole week of March 2nd in 2008, you would have seen her sweet smiling face proudly displayed.  Seriously!

Anyway, back to my boasting.  I suppress my ego now and try to live for the benefit of others; but now and again it rears its ugly head such as in the form of bragging.  I awoke on Saturday with a splitting headache.  I get occasional headaches but this one was so bad I was nauseous and couldn’t eat anything but a couple of spoonfuls of rice and beans.  I laid in bed most of the day with Kate looking in on me from time to time.  I hated missing the Wat cleanup and service and especially WOCC’s first official Girls Teen Night.  Before Kate left to have a great time with the 5 teen girls here, she gave me a dose of codeine which you can get over the counter.  I dislike medication; preferring to let my body fight it off, but after it hadn’t lessoned the whole day, I was ready to take anything.  I downed the pills and fell back onto my pillow thankful for Kate’s caring soul, but also for the fact that since it was Sat. we had electricity all day; I would have wanted to die without a fan in this heat!

After Kate left, I dragged myself out of bed to the bathroom where I planned to take a shower (bucket bath) in cold water.  I walked in the bathroom and immediately the saliva started flowing in my mouth; you know the feeling…the first sign that everything in your stomach will soon be free from its dark confines.  I thought outloud “No, I don’t want to throw up with this splitting headach”. But no sooner were the words out of my mouth than the uncontrollable urge to purge raced through my body.  I reached for the toilet lid, but didn’t get it open in time.  I have never had projectile vomiting (PV) before and never really understood its power.  I wrongly assumed that part in the Exorcist was a Hollywood stunt.  Even my dad who infamously talked about his bought with PV during the cruise he and my mom went on seemed more like exaggeration than true life.

Cambodian bathrooms are not a place to dally the day away.  They are a place to do your business and get out; basically what that means is that their bathrooms are more like a shower with a toilet in it.  A small room all cement (or tiled if you’re so privileged) with a large bucket of water with small hand scoop to bathe with and a toilet.  This worked greatly to my advantage as my PV was flung far and wide.  Had I been at m mom’s house this time, I would have had to renovate the bathroom the next day, but here I was able to just throw water on everything as my lunch washed down the large drain in the floor.  A little cleanser on the tile and floor and the bathroom was good as new.  I then took to washing myself and couldn’t help but feel a little better both outside and inside as I stifled the giggles when I thought at what I just did.  I emerged and crawled back to my bedroom still chuckling under my breath.  I fell down on my bed, weak as if I had just run a marathon.



The next morning, I was up at 6am as usual and felt like a new woman.  Luckily whatever had happened to me the day before was gone and I could go about my day.  This was a good thing as I had planned to go to Phnom Penh that afternoon and then on to Siem Reap to meet a friend on Monday.  As I was riding in the tuktuk to the city, I reflected on what had happened in the past 24 hours.  From feeling like I was on my death bed to having the wind in my hair as I rode through the Cambodian countryside.   I stopped to pick up some fruit at a roadside stand and watched as I was watched.  Great smiles from young and old as they enjoyed my enjoyment of the sweet treat. 

 
I couldn’t have felt more alive at that moment.  I don’t really dwell on where I am living at a given moment.  I just take it for granted that wherever I am is where I am supposed to be, but at that moment, I looked around me and really saw where I was.  I again felt so alive and free!  I saw the people working at the roadside stands, I saw the families on motorbikes passing by, I saw the little naked children playing while their parents worked nearby.  What I saw was life; people who were only different than me in their physical appearance.  

We may not speak the same language, but, everything else, feelings, thoughts, laughter, sadness, motion, was the same.  I felt even more like I belonged and my ‘enlightened’ outlook on life was overwhelming.  

The last 2 days brought on an amazing experience, but in the future, I think I will try harder to suppress my ego!

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