The Ears Have It

The other day the world changed for me.  Life can happen like that.  Not in a “good” way.

I woke up with bizarre symptoms.  I’ve always had ringing in my ears – tinnitus.  My dad had it before me.  Medical types said, ages ago, it was no big deal.  So I’ve always thought of it like this:  I can hear my blood singing.

Lately, though, some bass notes have joined the chorus.  I wake up in the middle of the night and I want to know:  What dingbat is running their generator? at this hour?

Thursday morning was a whole new opus.  I was getting three distinct vibes, in such clear musical  tones that I could actually sing along with them, harmonize.  I couldn’t hear much out of my left ear.  So I felt the “song in my heart” fun had gone on long enough.  And then I lost my balance and almost fell.

Understand – I was actually enjoying the experience.  I felt pleasantly light-headed.  Sung-to.  I had company.

But, really, this is the question:  Is this just a sinus or deep-ear infection?  As I hope and believe and pray?  Or could it be something deeply, infinitely more scary?

Bugs is concerned.

So I’ve decided, with great reluctance, to commence the medical marathon on this one.  Because the potential consequences can be so dire if I don’t.

If you haven’t run this marathon yourself, you doubtless know someone who has.  The one where it takes seven phone-calls and five e-mails between Little Rock and Fayetteville, and that doesn’t include all the e-traffic on my behalf between Colorado Springs and Little Rock and Fayetteville – just to get a look-in with a specialist.  Just to get an appointment.  That’s all I’m asking:  See me.  Please.  At the sound of the starting gun, may I please drop oh I don’t know at least and probably more than $700.00 of my no-insurance, Medicare-is-three-years-away dollars in your pocket?  Please may I?  Just first crack out of the blocks?

As matters stood this past Friday, Little Rock’s assistant promised she’d call Fayetteville’s assistant and get me in.  For maybe three weeks hence.  Or maybe Monday.  I’m not sure which.

The deeply, infinitely more scary question is Ménière’s Disease.  I prefer to call it Ménière’s Condition.  Those who don’t get this condition diagnosed and under control in a hurry?  Their lives don’t sound worth living.

So this crisis, or maybe-crisis, has inspired me this morning to write again about Listening.  I’ve written about that at lot, in connection with my Bugs the Cat, for example here.  But it’s been a while.  Life – plus the season – shows up to remind me:  It’s time to take another swipe at Listening.

You may know I’m a FELDENKRAIS® practitioner.  The objective of this work is to bring awareness, by paying attention to movement through our physical selves, to our being’s capacity to learn.  To become aware.  To listen.

We were born, as infants, knowing how to listen like this.  We were born with brains so marvelous and brilliant that we could teach ourselves, all by ourselves, how to hold our heads up, how to get our hands and knees and feet to bear weight under us – and from thence to take off on the marathon of life.  We learned all that, all by ourselves.  Magnificent.

To see what we once knew how to do, let this little master demonstrate.  Watch, and learn.

The good, the awesome, news is that we can still learn like that.  No matter how old or decrepit.  All it takes is awareness.  Listening.  Paying attention.

So I’ve been living with this uncertainty for a couple of days now.  I have found myself a little emotional.  I like myself that way.  I’m surprised by myself.  I like that.

For instance, a FELDENKRAIS colleague wrote, on an e-mail chat-list, about the latest in our organization’s on-going attempt to define what “competency” is, how to measure it or envision it or embody it.  This guy’s words so clearly conveyed the spirit of our work that, reading it, I was actually inspired to breathe more deeply.  I felt such relief from the stodgy bureaucratese up to that point.  I felt such gladness to be reminded, and so deeply touched, by the rhythms and silences I could sense, through our work, in what he wrote – I actually became a little tearful.

He was writing about how big, sweeping change can be exciting – but how small movement toward that direction, with time to take in the change, with clarity about the direction, is the wiser course.  Assisted, he concluded, with each others’ presence and support.  “Sometimes,” he wrote, “we need to be cheered up.”

Later that morning, as I led AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT® class, I found myself saying this, about our work:

“What we’re practicing here can be thought of as ‘kindness.’  What is that, kindness?  What does it involve, in action?  I hear it as an invitation to devote a certain care.  To paying attention.  Asking and not demanding.  Considering what’s there and true, first, before we start mucking in with the changes.  To me, this movement work is the physical equivalent of emotional kindness.  We really need that.  Both kinds.  And we need to practice with ourselves, before we can extend that kindness, truly, to others.  I wish every person, especially those who may be in physical distress, could feel what a difference it makes to dwell with yourself kindly.”

“So,” I said to those dear students who show up week after week to FELDENKRAIS class, “please do these movements as if kindness really mattered.  It’s one thing for me to tell you that kindness matters.  It’s one thing to trust or to believe that kindness matters.  The real thing, the real thing, is to feel how it matters.”

Another time on the same chat-list, I read another story about our work.  This one was about a Cajun fisherman who got up from a private session and told his FELDENKRAIS practitioner:  “You whisper to me like I whisper to the fish, like that guy on TV whispers to horses.”  It was, the practitioner said, a quiet moment.  Filled with silence.

So I conclude, dear readers:  Sometimes it becomes important to simply shut up.  And listen to the whispers.

That’s the way it’s been with Cat Bugs, ever since the beginning.  Where Google Translate has nothing on how to speak Cat – I have had to listen to whispers.

It pays off.  One day he takes chunks out of me, and I’m so not sure.  But the very next day, this can happen.


All it takes is this:  Stop, look, listen to the whispers.  Kindly.  With love.

Meanwhile, I’m going off to listen.  To the furnace.  I think I hear a mean bluesy clarinet in there somewhere.

About nadbugs

Anita loves cats. This must be because she, too, has had nine lives. She’s been dancing since she could walk, she was a commercial artist and advertising producer, she earned a third-degree black belt in Aikido, she is a drummer with the Afrique Aya Dance Company, she is an attorney, and she’s a meditator and a devoted student of Nonviolent Communication. She also spent one lifetime sidelined with a devastating back injury in 1992. Since then – FELDENKRAIS METHOD® to the rescue. The FELDENKRAIS METHOD is all about dreaming concretely – thinking intelligently and independently by way of a gracious and kind physicality. The work affords all who study it a process by which to reach, with movement, into the mind and the heart, to make nine lives into one whole being.
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29 Responses to The Ears Have It

  1. lahgitana says:

    Bean,
    I have been through the medical path you describe, including the Meniere’s Disease. The path was worse than the physical distress. For the vertigo, I learned a fix. May I email you so I don’t clog your blog?

    –Laurel

  2. When I first moved to Ireland I heard The Hum for about six months. Drove me nuts but then one day, gone. I hope you have the same good result I did. Best wishes for best diagnosis – hope the medical professionals listen as well as you do!

  3. Pluma and I are purring for your best outcome, with all peace and joy to you.

  4. I have to concur that sometimes the BIG things are good. Hubby is talented at teasing out the undercurrents of life, and I am slowly learning to trust his abilities. I hear things, but he listens.

  5. Dianda says:

    Bugs looks worried about you. I’d be to. I don’t know, but it sounds pretty serious. :(

    • nadbugs says:

      Yes, Dianda, it is a very scary prospect. However, many people who have it manage well — and plus, I haven’t had the diagnosis yet — so I’m watching and wondering. Thank you for your concern.

  6. Alexandra says:

    I’ve never heard about the things before. It’s interesting. I wish you lots of good health!

  7. Funny – I was a little worried about Bugs this week. Apparently my extra-special-kitty-senses are slightly askew… Bugs does look concerned, but at least he’s cute enough in his worrying that he might distract you just a bit from the symphony in your noggin.

    I’m sorry that you have all of this going on right now – or ever, really. The pre-diagnosis part is the worst, so I hope that you will really focus on being extra kind and extra patient with yourself. My human says that the hardest and most valuable lesson she’s learned in her adult life is to think of (and treat) her mind and body with kindness when none of her parts seem to be working right.

    P.S. And I hope the clarinet was in your head, not the furnace. Because having musical instruments in both places could get to be very, very expensive!

  8. nadbugs says:

    mckmf, Bugs’s meows harmonize nicely. I just wish he would get the kindness part more reliably — but right now he’s singing for his dinner, so kindness has no part of that picture. I think the clarinet is in my head. I’m pretty sure about that. Thank heaven.

  9. Melanie says:

    Oh no… I had a feeling that something was wrong in Bean and Bugs land this week, but didn’t know what. I send you best wishes and thoughts for your good health. In my experience, the situation is rarely as bad as the internet says it could be… which is good, because the internet has scared the hell out of me re: my symptoms in the past. So we’ll keep fingers, toes, paws crossed that it is the same with you.

    And I think that you’re onto something about kindness. I’ve had a couple of profound thoughts on the matter because of your post. Letting it shift around in there for awhile, and will likely be posting about it soon.

    As for learning to listen to Bugs, my hat is off to you. Learning to listen to a formerly feral toughguy cat is not something that just anyone would have the fortitude or skill to do.

    • nadbugs says:

      Wow, Mel, you really had that intuition? Thank you so much for that, that’s quite amazing! And for your encouragement. What you say about the internet — the person I’ve been talking to, who has this thing, specifically warned me not to do any research at all. He said the stuff he read was so scary it was unbelieveable. So thank you for that!

      I simply cannot wait to read your thoughts on kindness. Of all the elements in this post, that one means the most to me — and that’s the one that seems actually somewhat elusive. I want to write more soon about this, but I hope your post comes first so I can be enriched by your take.

      And your appreciation for me hanging in there with Bugs (feels like hanging from the chandeliers, more often than not (if I had chandeliers)) means more to me than I can say. A huge brightly wrapped present of warmth and happiness to you in this holiday season.

  10. Oldcat says:

    Hope things turn out Ok. Sometimes it feels better to start making progress on addressing an issue rather than just wonder what is happening.

  11. MTVA says:

    The traipsing off to doctor appointments is such a pain, but let’s hope it turns out to be nothing too dire. These inner ear disturbance things seem so much worse until you find out exactly what it is. When you think of all the things that go on in our heads, and how tightly packed it all must be in there, no wonder it hits us so hard. Sending along our very best wishes and purrs for a good diagnosis.

    • nadbugs says:

      Mmmm for the purring, I love that, MTVA. And I’m grinning at the image of the tightly packed head. So true. Exactly how this feels. I was just saying that to my friend yesterday. Like my brain is too big for my head. Sounds funnier, that way, than it feels.

  12. Lots of love and fuzzy, furry, purry snuggles from us over here. Love the reminders to be gentle and loving and kind with ourselves as we keep learning and growing. We envision you joyous and peaceful and feeling well loved and supported as your big, tightly packed brain reconfigures to realign with the rest of your gloriously expanding self. XOX

    • nadbugs says:

      Thank you, Typist. You and I connect in kindness, and for that I am truly grateful. That gratitude is a little hard to convey sincerely in this medium — but I feel that warmth. Joyous, peaceful, well-loved and supported, expansive. A mantra, a metta, really. For me, for you, for the whole world.

  13. Marcy Benham says:

    Ahhhhhh, listening. I’ll never understand why it’s so difficult to learn to do that properly! But listen we must! I’m sure you and I have discussed my “whisper, tap, slap” theory of living. Learning to truly listen, to my inner self, my pets, my partners, my friends, my family, my Creator is the BEST skill I’ve acquired over time. Hang in there girl! Love you!

  14. nadbugs says:

    We have indeed discussed your life-theory. As we spoke — and listened — together in time of need. Thank you, my beauty, for your support and love.

  15. Pingback: Bone of Trust, Muscle of Kindness | catself

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