Mom Has the Time

It was while I was strolling the streets of Brooklyn, in the middle of June 2015, keeping my eyes peeled for the prophetic love, that I got a phone call from my mother about what she was just informed of… Two tumors, one of 8cm and the other 9cm, on each ovary. She was in a dark place about the news, yet I felt in all of my body in that instant, a deep peace about her process. I had a deep knowing that it could be the key to her ultimate freedom of stale habituals of the last 15 years.

From my experience, I have seen that the disease process unfolds (or ‘suddenly’ emerges) as a strong wake up call usually following the unread messages through dreams and seemingly coincidental events that knock gently at the door of our hearts/minds. It made me realize that having a strong feeling of support through love without pity is the best medicine I could offer, rather than scrambling to find a ‘cure’ from this plant or that. This is what got me through the process of healing guillain barre syndrome, and regardless of the actual named dysfunction, it is the same medicine that is needed across the world.

After much wagering back and forth, she decided to go full on with the hysterectomy. My brothers, sister, and I gathered at a hospital on August 4th, surrounding my mom with what she really wanted. At one point, I read from the I Like You book (Sandol Stoddard Warburg, thank you Lindsey) in a strange accent and received the surprising remark of “I didn’t know you were so funny, Ralph!” Amazing what we notice when we have the time to!

We spoke of different things in the waiting room, naturally calling in the usual looks of those who keep to themselves. You know, we are a lively bunch, and the hair is a bit curly and wild and well, we don’t stay in our seats too much.

When we finally were at the point of seeing my mother off, a group of men and women in their scrubs stormed in from an unseen part of the room, enveloping my mother as she lay in her ready-to-roll bed, instantly anxiety stricken from such an encounter… “woah, woah…” She strongly felt their presence shift the energy of the situation. They approached as if ready to go to war with someone’s insides. A routine probably so familiar to them, that the compassionate grace a fresh patient requires was far away on the list of checking off.

This coldness is what calls in such a needed look into the medical establishment (and all establishments?) It is business as usual, which is understandable but doesn’t make it okay nor desired. It begs questions pertaining to what actually heals us… and if we can’t completely remove the root cause, what makes us feel better in the long run? If the Hippocratic oath of ‘either help or do no harm to the patient’ were to be truly followed, then could it be something to look at in regards to all ways of increasing well being?

Maybe this can include a retraining of attitude in hospital settings. Where it is of course important to know what we are doing, but equally important is how we do it. What kind of feelings and thoughts are we bringing to the table when dealing with those that are imbalanced and seeking restoration? How does centering and grounding ourselves reflect in our relationships with those that we are treating?

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So, the perfect plan could finally be concocted! Excitedly, my mind rolls: I’m going to load her up on every adaptogenic herb and use the Anamu (anti cancer herb) in the backyard and wake up at 5 am and do chi gong and meditation and take her on vacation out of the state while forbidding all sugar intake! Of course, almost none of this happened, as my projected idea of a perfect plan, was just that. I strongly resisted her never ceasing desire for key lime pie on drip and was more so feeling a regiment that would be akin to a healing centers itinerary… well guess what? As it turns out, the game plan must be flexible and at times include key lime pie. Actually, the most divine moment of her experience was receiving a homemade key lime pie from my partner. The medicine of sweetness pervaded her being, especially the sweetness of gathering with family and friends, something that was a rare occasion in working so frequently for so long. Could it be said that this togetherness is the substance that is sought after by individuals in need? That our attitude is felt into the things we offer to each other? I would vote, yes.

As the weeks rolled forward, a lot of things came up. I mean, one can imagine that after working 6-7 days a week for 10 years plus, there might be some facets of life that have gone unchecked or unresolved. Tensions were discovered and with as much grace as possible, dived into and explored… asking questions like, “where does this originate?” and “how am I responsible for this too?” Granted, none of this was particularly easy, but I know that if long lasting healing is desired, then it takes doing the work on ourselves to free us from our habitual patterning. At times, deep silence and deliberate space was needed, and so it was given. I am no angel, and so it was naturally a beautiful and potent challenge to my levels of patience and compassion! Always learning.

The most moving of the experiences thus far occurred a few weeks before her surgery. We were on the veranda of our home and she was facing the stress of choosing between operating or not. She then came to the cold and ever true idea of “why should I heal myself if I’m just going to die anyway?” With the most authentic of tears streaming down her face, I felt inside myself for the answer that I knew was there. “We heal ourselves so we can help others, Mom. There is no other greater inspiration than this. You will get better so you can help people, because you will understand.”

In this journey, it is a given that we will fall ill and eventually lose our faculties in some way or another. Most may wish to die in their sleep, peaceful as can be, but some will go out in seemingly harsher ways. My mother reminded me of this, due to her out of nowhere health crisis, and brought to our family and circle a reminder: to truly be grateful and present with what it is that we currently have been gifted… because it really is a gift, whatever it is that we are dealt with.

Mom getting vitamin D as she rests among the Spanish Needle, Mango, Moringa, Mexican Sunflowers, Papaya, Chaya, Starfruit, and herbs.

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Empezar

Rememberplants. What is this.

It comes down to a realization that came upon me a few weeks ago. If one were to recognize our inherent interdependence on all of Nature (not just the parts that we like to like), we would eventually come to see that it is absolutely essential that we all get our act together. How so? We can see at the smallest level (and of the utmost the largest step for it is the first one, practically speaking) that we do in our homes and around our homes matters very dearly. How we treat the Earth all around us, how we understand our relationship to this great blue and green sphere we just so happen to need so badly… this is the reason I chose this name a few years ago. It is at once a sad yet funny poke at a hopefully never to be seen future where one elder goes to another, “Remember plants?” and also a solid truth that we must re-member plants (including all relatives and associates) right n o w.

In this way of seeing, we can also come to the conclusion that we are ourselves are very much plant-like… We thrive in community, we apparently love water and air and sun and some of us still know our food comes from soil nearby. This is another aspect, where remembering plants is remembering ourselves and our place in the chain of absolute perfection that is the only dance there is. Get shaking.

“That’s great and all Ralphito, but I have a 9-5 and 4 kids and a mortgage and you are all good and privileged enough to have had the opportunity to travel to far off places and see the world…” This is true. I recognize my privilege and realize how it is my duty to share what I feel can benefit us as humans as opposed to hoarding my little seedling ideas on my itouch’s notes app and never looking at them until I’m in the bathroom ‘bored’ and scrolling…

So, we can start with curiosity! That is, what tickles you into wanting to know more? Are you satisfied with how you feel on a daily basis? What is it that you heard about your herbalist neighbor that you may want to explore for yourself? What things do you find yourself doing mindlessly in ‘free time’ that can be spent in researching ways you can become closer to the processes of the Earth?

I have spent countless hours being insanely hard on myself for not knowing yet enough to share about this or that, justifying the paralysis of not sharing anything at all about my experiences of the last few years traveling through the jungles and mountains of Peru, in search of that which heals us. I have in the last few months, however, received enough internal inspiration to know that this is where I need to start: with where I am.

I am at a restaurant with a friend of mine who is letting out so much to me on the ways of her being, things that she feels she can’t tell anyone else. She goes to the bathroom after an hour or so of straight and intense conversation revolving around the nature of her anxiety. I realize that this is the 6th person I’ve talked to this week about the same exact things. I realized at that moment that I need to write about what I have come to learn and share it, if I can feel that it might benefit others, without worrying about what others will think. In realizing this, I looked up and saw on the tv sub captions “it’s amazing how you let the ego to the side and allowed the spirit to come through.” I smile and know that it’s time to start sharing.

In infinite gratitude,
Rafael

a winding road on the way to Hualla, Peru.