Bodhi Day 2021 is a little over three months from now – December 8, 2021 (the “secular one”). But I already had an early Bodhi Day.
As I write this, I’m recovering from the aftermath of what seems to be a flu followed by back to back bouts of pneumonia. It wasn’t Covid-19. The two Covid tests I took came back negative, but I’ve learned the false negative rate for even the pcr test is surprisingly high.
I had a fever for about two weeks. The first six days, my fever was in the 103-104 F range. It then fell a bit to 101-102 F for the next week. During those two weeks, especially during those first six days, I seemed to be in some sort of delirium. I had those bizarre “fever dreams” that can’t be put into words, but some of those fever dreams leaked into my awake time. Mrs. Hanamoku says I really didn’t make sense during that time and my memories of that time seems like it was a dream.
Thank you to Mrs. Hanamoku for taking care of me for over two weeks around the clock, and pushing our healthcare providers.
Although it’s been a few days since my fever broke and I took the last dose of antibiotics, my body is fatigued. I lost about 10% of my bodyweight within the first week. I’m winded just climbing upstairs in my home.
Pneumonia is new to me. I’ve learned from friends that it does take weeks or even months to fully recover. However, it seems like my bout was relatively moderate by pneumonia standards, so I think my body will recover within two or three weeks.
Before continuing, I need to clarify that Bodhi Day isn’t really about celebrating the enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama, or partaking in rice pudding, or the pleasure of an early morning meditation at a mountain getaway gazing into a rising Venus. More so, it’s a time you are rebooted.
As I’ve written elsewhere, Siddhartha Gautama’s Bodhi experience wasn’t an Om-humming, sutra-chanting, mission statement brainstorming retreat. It started out with him at rock-bottom, beaten up by life, until he collapsed under what would be called the Bodhi Tree. For seven days he sat there, tormented by demons of his mind as he healed, and too physically weak to do anything but sit there and take it.
The demons’ fire burned everything until awareness was all that was left. Free from all the emotional baggage, innumerable desires, and beliefs based on naïve or outdated experiences, he clearly understood that what was burned away was the source of his suffering. With nothing to cling to, Siddhartha Gautama no longer suffered.
Even your ol’ Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku, a long-time student of Zen, who at the time of this writing occupies a human body, falls off life’s cliffs or stumbles into endless loops. It’s part of the all-inclusive gift of sapience – that is, our human gift to make choices. We have to power to show the Universe what happens with alternate paths.
In my current case, I’ve spent the last few years reinventing my career to Version 5.0 after a pretty good 15-year run with Version 4. At almost sixty years old and in these especially fast-moving times in the software industry, that’s quite a feat.
In hindsight, I probably could have run out the clock (worked a few more years and retire) with my Version 4 career. But software development is my Zen practice and I wanted to keep on going for more than a few years to 65. Reinvention of my career was an ambitious and ballsy move at my age, but it’s the choice I decided to make. My execution wasn’t perfect. Life on Earth is about ubiquitous experimentation, so miscalculations are expected.
When my fever broke a few days ago, I had forgotten what I had been working on so diligently. During the first part of my illness, before the results of the Covid tests, the healthcare professionals seemed convinced I had a bad case of Covid-19. Their body language and overly vague answers to our questions seemed to suggest I’d soon be moving into a ventilator in some ICU.
Fortunately, I didn’t die on a ventilator. Instead the fever burned away all the debris from the closed doors and dead ends accumulated over the past few years. As with other “Bodhi Days”, I awoke with a empty and open mind, where once again I didn’t “know everything”. Rebooted to again act on ballsy what-if choices.
Something I heard Dan Millman say over 30 years ago has stuck with me. Paraphrasing, “If you don’t take a vacation, your body will make you take one.” For most of us, vacations are rationed out to us by our managers in thrifty portions reminiscent of meager childhood allowances – and scheduled around priorities where the needs of our body is far down the list.
In spite of that, we must treat Bodhi Day as we do with trash day. We need to take out the trash every week no matter what else is going on. Otherwise the trash will pile up, rot, and take on a life of its own in your home. Likewise, when the debris around our life is so thick that we’re just swimming in muck, we need to burn it off – voluntarily – even if it’s not on December 8.
Faith and Patience,
Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku