Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on July 26, 2016
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on July 20, 2016
I encountered this stand of Indian Paintbrush growing right in the middle of a Rabbit Bush, out in my favorite forest camp on the Coconino Plateau in Northern Arizona.
It put me in mind of the story of Moses and the Burning Bush.
As the Chumash (the Five Books of Moses) tells it, Moses had fled from Egypt after killing a man who was beating a Hebrew. Although Moses had been adopted by the “baht Melekh” (Pharaoh’s daughter), it had become known that he was a Hebrew by birth; therefore, to kill an employee of Pharaoh would certainly result in something bad, even though the man he killed was a Hebrew “taskmaster,” as the Book says, exactly like the Jewish Capos that Hitler (may his name be erased) set over the Jews, Catholics, Gypsies, homosexuals, and disabled people in the concentration camps.
This being the case, Moses fled to Midian. There wasn’t anything special about Midian that drew him there, or so he thought, but about the middle of the day he came to a well. Now, it’s known that in any of the Hebrew writings, wells symbolize the wisdom of the Divine Feminine, called the Shekhina. Many times, a woman who is destined to be an important man’s soulmate is present, or is revealed at, a well. Rivka (Rebecca), who was destined to become the soulmate of Yitzkhak (Isaac), was discovered at a well, as you will remember. And Miriam had a well that followed the Hebrews through the desert, providing them with water during their forty-year journey. It disappeared upon her death, leaving the Israelites high and dry.
When Moses arrived at the Midianite well, he discovered several shepherd girls hanging around with their flocks of sheep. He asked them what was up with that, and they replied mournfully that the well was stopped up with a boulder, and they couldn’t water their sheep until the rotten men shepherds came, towards evening, and moved the rock aside. But their sheep were thirsty now!
Moses, outraged by this injustice, moved the huge rock off the mouth of the well, and the girls watered their sheep.
One of the girls, Tzipporah (Zipporah, in lousy translation), had such a beautiful soul that Moses snatched her up and kissed her! She immediately flew (this the meaning of her name, which is “bird”) to her father’s house and asked if she could invite Moe to dinner. When Yitro (Jethro, also called Ruel) heard what Moshe (Moses) had done for the shepherdesses, of course he invited Moshe to dinner, and also gave him Tzipporah to wife.
Moshe worked for his father in law for a few years. After a while he got the feeling that he should head back to Egypt, so he gathered up a very pregnant Tzipporah, heaved her onto a donkey, and off they went through the desert, having adventures that I will not mention here, except to say that after one of them he sent Tzipporah and their infant son back to Midian, and continued on alone.
As he was trudging through the desert he spied a bush on fire. He thought that was odd, so he turned from his path and drew closer to see what that was all about.
The first thing he noticed was that even though the bush was certainly on fire, it was not being consumed. He thought that was the strangest thing he had ever seen, but things got stranger still.
A voice boomed out of the Burning Bush and said,
“Moshe, Moshe! Take off your sandals, for you are standing on sacred ground!”
This is the basis of the Law that Hebrews must take our shoes off when we go to the Holy Temple, whose ruins still sit on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, although those who currently occupy it try continually to deny that both the Holy Temples and the Holocaust never existed.
After Moshe removed his sandals and approached the Burning Bush once again, he was commanded to be the First Rabbi, and convey to the people who were to become the Children of Israel the Law which the Great Spirit would teach him. Being the most humble man there ever was, Moshe demured, citing a speech impediment. God said fine then, your brother Aharon (Aaron) will be your mouthpiece. I’ll tell you, you tell Aharon, and he’ll tell the People. Now get out of here and do your job.
Moshe says, “I will, but who shall I say sent me? The People will think I’m arrogant and won’t believe me if I just tell them stuff myself. I need to tell them who sent me!”
“Fine. Tell them, Ekyeh Asher Ekyeh sent you (I Am Because I Am). Now scram before I make an ash out of you!”
Moshe lit a shuck (ran away fast) out of there, and as he approached Egypt he met his brother Aharon, who was coming to look for him, to invite him to have lamb with pita and wine.
TBC, at some point….
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on July 17, 2016
No, she’s not dead…just had her morning walkies, breakfast, and now…notice the green ball in her mouth, which serves as her pacifier….she’s taking her midmorning nap as she digests her delicious dog food. What a life!
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on July 16, 2016
It’s raining again in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I left my precious Arizona, hot but at least high and dry, to trade in my trusty Jenny the Chevy camper for the 24 foot house on wheels that I ordered back in November.
I’ve been sick ever since my arrival last Thursday. Stress is a bitch! And for me there is nothing more stressful than moving, even if it’s from one mobile dwelling to another. I get completely disoriented with all my personal shit strewn around. Disorder breeds more disorder.
Speaking of disorder, my dear doggy is completely discombobulated. All her two favorite hangout places in our previous van are gone. Like moi, she’s having to adjust to this new space and new lifestyle, all of a sudden. There’s lots more room for her to stretch out in the aisle, but I’ve configured the bed in a way that is unacceptable to her, so she is sleeping in the driver’s seat in protest.
I’ve been in awful, unremitting pain ever since I left the lovely dry Southwest. Humidity kills me. My spine is screaming; likewise my shoulders, hands, and hips: all the arthritic places. And wouldn’t you know it, I had a Crohn’s flare-up start the day I moved my stuff from Jenny into my new rig (whose name might be Betsy). I finally got the blood stains out of my brand new plastic toilet this morning. That’s one of the lovely things that come with a Crohn’s flare: shitting blood. I’ve got a sore throat, headache, and spent last night alternately chilling and sweating. Fucking immune system, where are you when I need you? Either running hot or on vacation, and sometimes both at the same time.
My sweet doggie came to see me about dawn. She must have been listening to me shifting uncomfortably around in the bed, trying unsuccessfully to find a pain-free position. She tried to worm her way into bed with me, but she is still a puppy, albeit a large one; and in the process of her thrashing around trying to cuddle up with me, she accidentally slashed my throat with one of her claws, and razored me up pretty good.
My sleep deprived, paining self overflowed and I began to wail. Poor Atina fled to the driver’s seat, and required a great deal of comforting for the rest of the morning. She feels terrible when she hurts me. She knows I am fragile, and tries her best to take care of me. But she is large and ungainly. Accidents are bound to happen.
After applying first aid to my gashed and bleeding throat, I sat down with my new vaporizer and medicated. I felt better. I started the day.
Yesterday it rained. Today it rained. I’ve grown accustomed to places that don’t steam all the time. I intend to make my way back West, where I feel good. A friend called me a little while ago, from Glacier National Park. He is not a formally religious man, but he said that Glacier felt to him like knowing God.
God and I have been on the outs for some time, so I think I’ll head over to Glacier and see what my friend is talking about. I wouldn’t mind having a God experience. My mind needs a jump start.
This far corner of Montana is 1,713 miles from where I currently sit. And that doesn’t take account of my planned side trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
The arrow is supposed to point to the Upper Peninsula. The little blue dot at the bottom is where I am now. So the whole trip will be a big adventure with my new motorhome as I learn its ins and outs.
I’m glad I temporarily have the ability to do this kind of gypsying. I won’t always. Finances and ill health will eventually clip my wings; but I’ll keep on as long as life lets me. I’ll go as long and as hard as I can, and be gentle with myself too.
That’s my spiritual discipline now: giving myself permission not to do, but to be. I get depressed. I say, OK, I’m depressed. It will pass. I use cannabis as part of my medication regimen. It works. It helps me get through the depressions. It helps me feel better. Isn’t that the point of medication?
None of the meds we take for brain pain are “disease modifying.” They don’t work unless we take them. If we stop taking them, they stop working.
Cannabis will break me out of a suicidal depression. It helps me engage with the world, with my environment. I feel creative. I can cook and clean up, take a shower, talk to people. I don’t lie around crying all day. I’m still depressed, but I’m more functional and less likely to hole up isolated.
Sometimes I’m just too sick though, like last night when I couldn’t even think well enough to pick up the vaporizer till my dog broke me out of it by slashing my throat. Well, it was over the top, but it changed my state, so I guess it was all right. Hope the wound heals. The skin right there is awfully thin.
I hate it that I’m too disabled to work. All I want to do is to be in my own office, healing the sick. But I’m too sick to heal anyone, not even myself. This mobile lifestyle helps me to not go crazy mourning my lost calling. It’s a distraction, true, and that’s what I need.
It’s interesting to see how campgrounds are places of refuge for the mentally ill and physically disabled. Of course no one you meet will say, “My name is Doris, and I’m mentally ill.” Nope, she will say she has a bad knee, or something legit like that. All the talk about getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness has done absolutely nothing compared to the speculation about the “mental health” of the various recent shooters. Hell, if I were to tell some campground owner that I’m bipolar, you can bet they would be fresh out of campsites. Mental cases not welcome anywhere…not openly, anyway. But we’re here. We are transient; we float from place to place. We keep quiet and don’t cause trouble. But we don’t disclose.
When will the Mentally Ill Matter?
Maybe never. We’re the Invisible Minority.
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on July 13, 2016
You might be wondering where, or what, Ogallala is.
Ogallala is a smallish city in Nebraska, USA. It’s named for the Ogallala band of Lakota (Sioux) Indians, who once roamed freely in the Plains, but like all Native Americans were rounded up and planted on reservations during the Westward expansion of white Americans. Ogallala, Nebraska, is now a corn town.
I’ve been on the road or off the grid now for weeks. Lots of thoughts, some jotted down, some evaporated, and some that maddeningly recirculate, playing themselves over and over until they are drowned out by the urge to drag my malfunctioning brain out of its bone box and fry it on the sizzling pavement of I-80.
In particular: the thoughts that forced me to bivouac early in bucolic Ogallala, as I was pelting down the blazing Interstate, trying to get to Michigan to meet a deadline.
I am haunted by the spectre of losing my son. I believe I have lost him. I believe I never had him.
This adult child of mine has never been happy with much, for long, particularly if it had anything to do with me.
He was miserable as a baby, except when eating or preparing food. He learned to cook by watching over my shoulder from his vantage point in the backpack. Since he screamed for whatever chunk of time he was put down, hours at a time, and I mean hours and hours, of necessity for my health and his life, I put him in the backpack and wore him. If he screamed in the backpack, I put him to bed (clean, dry, and fed, of course) and turned on the vacuum cleaner and put in ear plugs and turned up the stereo and went outside and walked around in the yard and wished I still smoked, until his father came home.
“Clap hands, clap hands
Till Daddy comes home
Daddy has money and Mommy has none…”
But his father objected to being handed a screaming baby even before he was properly through the door. In retrospect I don’t blame him.
As a pediatrician, having a “difficult child” proved helpful. It increased my Compassion Quotient.
I’m sure you’ve heard of awful cases where someone shook the baby, or threw it, or did some other act of violence because the baby wouldn’t stop crying. Most of us recoil in horror from these news items, and frequently judge the mother harshly. How could she? How could she?
Thankfully, I never did violence to my perpetually screaming baby. I took him to the doctor every week, sometimes more. My pediatrician patiently explained that he had “colic” (rubbish! colic is what they say when they don’t know why the baby cries) and that it would go away when he grew up (it hasn’t).
I remember even at the time, walking around the back yard in the middle of the night, thinking how grateful I was that I had the emotional resources not to simply throw him into somebody else’s trash bin. Later on, when I turned into the Director of several Pediatric Emergency Departments, I would draw upon that experience when the babies of other, less resourceful parents came in with grievous injuries or worse. As much as I hurt for those babies, I hurt for the parent who loved their child, yet in an instant of just-too-much-over-the-top screaming, snapped, and hurt their own flesh and blood.
Apart from myself, I think no one pities a parent who has hurt, or even killed, their child, in a moment of unpremeditated rage. In fact, I don’t even think it’s rage. I think it’s more simply end of the rope, no more self control, just shut up! Type of thing.
Maybe they didn’t have a back yard, vacuum cleaner, stereo, teeth to grind, nerves of steel. Maybe they didn’t have those resources.
I was grateful for mine.
Looking back, I’m also grateful that it wasn’t just me. Who couldn’t pacify this child, I mean. I feel vindicated.
When I went back to work and school after five months at home, I left the backpack with the babysitter, who muttered something about knowing how to take care of spoiled babies.
When I picked him up at the end of the day, she had that backpack on! She muttered something about weaning him off it by the end of the week.
She wore it, and him, for about two more years. Then we moved.
As far as I can tell, that’s when our troubles first began.
This person to whom I gave birth and did not kill, resents me with a passion. I resent my own mother, for far different reasons, yet I have compassion for her because I am a hated mother. I will not tell her I love her, because I don’t. I don’t confide in her, because whatever I say can and will be used against me.
I have tried to be a good listener to my son. I know I have been, because he has always come to me with his troubles, and I have felt a bit of guilty pleasure in listening: guilty for being pleased that he came to me in his time of trouble, wishing he didn’t have the troubles that brought him to me, yet pleased that he felt comfortable in coming to me for help.
I did my best to help him to become self-sufficient, since that, in my experience, is the best gift one can give a child, second only to unconditional love.
When he got into trouble, I let him flounder a good long while before I bailed him out. And I didn’t just let him off the hook. I got him out of mortal danger, and after that, he had a lot of meaningful work to do.
I feel now as though I’m explaining, justifying, trying to talk myself into believing that I wasn’t a horrible harpy mother like mine was. I’m picking through my brain, finding reasons to believe I did OK.
But more often, I’m picking through my brain, finding every little particle of doubt, possibility of abusive behavior, coldness, emotional distance, unavailability, what?
What happened? Or, more probably, what didn’t happen?
Through the decade of his twenties, it seemed we got along fine. Then came last Thanksgiving. I got gobsmacked, blindsided.
He invited me for dinner. No one else, just me. I thought that was strange, suggested we invite somebody else, or go to someone else’s dinner. No, he didn’t want to.
And he didn’t want help cooking, because he gets impatient with someone else in the kitchen. So I sat on the couch and smoked his weed.
He presented the meal. It looked lovely. He asked me to take a picture of him with his beautiful dishes all arranged on the table. I did.
After dinner I went out and slept in my camper in his parking lot. The next morning I came in and showered while he went to work for a while. When he returned, he made it clear he expected me to leave: immediately.
There was the old threatening feeling I knew so well, the feeling of dark clouds, anger, intimidation, that he had used to get his way as a young adolescent. I hadn’t seen that in twenty years.
I didn’t want to leave just then. I was nursing a migraine, was exhausted from the many hour drive to his place, and I didn’t want to be bullied. I wanted to curl up on the couch and drink coffee and smoke weed and watch cartoons in my pajamas. But it was, after all, his place. Not mine.
He showed me the door.
“I really need my space back, Mom,” was how he put it, and opened the door for me, so I could go through it.
We’ve spoken four times since then. They haven’t been pleasant times. When I ask what happened, what changed, I get a tirade about how I dragged him around when he was a kid, how I wasn’t available emotionally or physically, and I apologize. And he is angry, and doesn’t want to hear how I feel.
And I get all confused. Here is my son, angry at me. I didn’t kill him when he was an angry, inconsolable baby. Why isn’t he grateful? Isn’t he happy that he’s now a successful adult, with a promising career, lots of nice friends, no lack of women friends, enough money for his needs?
My own mother used to tell me I was “shit,” burn me with match heads, just to see me cry. Then she’d laugh and tell me I should grow a thicker skin. And she wonders why I avoid her.
I tried my best to be another kind of mother, the mother I would have chosen if I could have had my choice.
I guess it doesn’t work that way.
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on July 3, 2016
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, chronicler of the Holocaust, dies | Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on July 3, 2016
Hundreds Gather at Funeral of 13-Year-Old Israeli Girl Butchered in Bed by Palestinian Terrorist; Mother Asks God to Watch Over Her Daughter | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com
And the one who stabbed her to death in her bed?
He’s a hero, according to the Palestinian Authority (their government):
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on July 1, 2016
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on June 27, 2016
This breaks my heart. Sufism, the mystical sect of Islam, is the inner core of true beauty in the Islamic faith.
Many of you have read the Sufi poet Rumi, or the Rubayyat of Omar Khayyam, or the poetry of Khalil Gibran, whose line “Drink of the same wine but not from the same cup” has enriched many a set of wedding vows.
Everyone has heard of the “whirling Dervishes,” but not everyone knows that a Darweesh is a mystical adept who spins through a complex pattern of movements in deep trance, in order to achieve synchrony with the Divine!
And although this has been practiced since at least the 7th century c.e., and perhaps earlier, and even though Sufism has always been a deep and enduring branch of knowing God in the context of Islam, now it’s being branded as heresy and its practitioners are being killed.
Such a tragedy!
I have been associated with Sufis since 1990, when I studied African drumming with a black American Sufi and his white Jewish American Sufi wife. While in Israel I hung out with Sufi musicians who were Jewish. Yes, that happens in Israel. You don’t hear about it on the news…the ecstatic music sessions on the streets and in the market places late at night, when Muslims and Jews gather to praise our mutual Creator with flutes, drums, and lyres…this too is taking a risk, now that the imams seem to be branding anything pleasurable as “haram” (forbidden).
Heaven help us.
In the meantime, please enjoy your life. Dance. Make music. Howl at the moon! Listen to music, read, pray. Enjoy Nature! Enjoy one another!
Live with joy, live the juice of life!
Counter repression with expression!
Posted by Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA on June 23, 2016