Becoming Buddhist

Attempting to Live a More Mindful Life


November 7, 2012

Three days in.

I realized something about myself last night. I realized two things, actually. One: I think in terms of getting through things, like, “if only Obama gets elected, everything will be okay,” (done!) or, “if I get pregnant, all my problems will be solved.” The revealing thing last night was that in the elated moments after my guy won, I had a call from a doctor friend to discuss my disappointing fertility and there I was, five minutes later: down in the dumps, thinking about my next hurdle to cross. Like: check the election off the list; now move on (drudgingly, cheerlessly) to the next problem.


Do I think once I achieve the things I want, I will be “fixed?” “Enlightened?” That I will have achieved happiness, perfection, success, maybe even Buddhahood, that ultimate goal? I am reading, in Basics of Buddhism, about the ten states of being, e.g., Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Humanity, Rapture, Learning, Realization, Bodhisattvahood, and Buddhahood.

The beach at Tennessee Valley Road

I am not entirely clear, yet, what all these states mean, or whether we move through them willy-nilly or progress through and find ourselves, at a certain point in our lives, arrested at one of the stops, waiting to move on. Or whether we move through these states in different lives. I am still learning. (But let’s just say that numero diez, Buddhahood, is a long ways off for yours truly. I will be amazed if I hit Bodhisattvahood.)


The other thing I realized last night was much more pedestrian, but also more important in some ways. The conversation with my friend was to get a second opinion about a very expensive test that my doctor, Dr. A.,  says I should get. Expensive, like, three-grand-out-of-pocket expensive. When my friend asked me why the doctor wanted to give me this test, all I could say was, “I don’t really know.” Steph suggested I take a very different and more simple route, an ultrasound. It should cost, she said, a couple hundred dollars.

On the way home, with Marc, and Lex sleeping peacefully in his carseat in the back, we turned off the radio for a minute and just talked it through.

“I just get these one-line emails back from the doctor,” I said. “I don’t understand her logic, whether I really need this test or whether it’s just the next thing in the line, the next step in the usual infertility process. It seems to me that there is a better test out there for me—Steph seems to think there is—but I don’t know because Dr. A. hasn’t told me.”

Marc: “Have you asked?”

No, I had not asked. What I had done was email and tell Dr. A. that given the expense of the test, I might hold off for a while. What I secretly hoped was that she would write back and say, “Well, given the financial constraints, maybe we should consider a different approach. Let’s schedule a phone call to discuss.” Instead, I got back an email that said: “The order will stand when you’re ready. — Dr. A.”

Then Marc dropped a bomb.

“Are you worried she won’t like you if you ask for what you need?”

He really should reconsider this law gig and become a therapist, methinks.

The question made me feel very sad. Sad because the answer was yes. I think in my struggle to be more laid back—that Sisyphean task—I mug something like calmness, a defense mechanism, maybe, and people who don’t know me very well respond as though I am indeed calm and laid back. They think I am treating things lightly. When in reality:

I have realized in the past month how badly I want to be pregnant again.

I have realized that I have this kind of fog around my own fertility, many questions about whether my very harrowing birth with Lex a few years back caused some sort of uterine trauma that has made me infertile.

And that I am terrified to find out.

But that not knowing is killing me.

And that I am not asking very well for what I need: information, and a plan.

And that I do not feel laid back or calm about any of it.

In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin says something to the effect of, “I wanted to take myself more seriously, and also less seriously.” I so know what she means. I want to be laid back, calm, Zen. And yet it may be that the only way I get there is to take myself more seriously.

On today’s to-do list: write another email to doctor, asking for more information and a better plan.