Human Being Human
What is life as a human being really about? I had not given much thought to this or took time to observe it in myself or in others until after I found myself in a hospital, paralyzed from the neck down, unable to speak.
I had a chance to watch, to listen and think about it. I became a witness. Before the opportunity to do this, I was moving too fast to see. I was too preoccupied with this and that to really care.
Life is unpredictable at best. We come into this world listening, observing, and relying on the senses to teach us what we need to know about it. The senses are designed to assist us in having this experience. I had experienced being at the birthing of eight of my children and at age thirty-six, I got to be at my own rebirthing. Based on that birth, I am eleven or so; I have learned to talk, to walk, and to feed myself again, to communicate and meet my needs. The things that I did not learn, I reorganized.
Prior to this new birth, my death was being accelerated. I was experiencing life in reverse when I started losing my ability to experience life through the senses. I went into the hospital feeling weak. My body was numb the first day, by the second day I could not taste food, on the third day after hearing the doctor’s prognosis, I do not recall hearing or seeing anything until being raced down the hall to have emergency surgery on my spine to remove a bleeding tumor.
After being anesthetized — one hundred, ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninety-seven — I opened my eyes some eight hours later in a recovery room, very surprised to still be in a body and feeling as though something major had happened. I adjusted my focus to see a nurse at the foot of the stretcher who, upon recognizing my awareness says, “Oh, you’re awake. We’re preparing a room for you.” And she walked away, leaving me to my thoughts.
I thought, “Oh God, I must have done some things right, and some things wrong, but right now, I just wish to serve you.”
A voice responded saying, “This is not about you. It is more about other people. You are here to be an inspirer of men and women.”
I simply replied, “Okay.” I felt a great love overtake me, like a warm shower. Everything seemed strange. The nurse reappeared saying, “Your room is ready,” and started pushing me towards it.
I did not know I was paralyzed. I became aware of the tubes in my nose and this thing around my neck and upon arrival to the room in the intensive care unit, I learned of my state while being transferred from the stretcher to the bed since I could not help in any way. I could move nothing but my eyes. I could only observe and was being observed. I was a newborn baby at thirty-six. The nurses talked to me, around me and about me; visitors did the same. Some people said nothing and just looked sad, while others smiled.
My biggest trick was moving my eyes and breathing, of course. The doctors and nurses monitored the mixing of my blood and oxygen declaring it was not satisfactory, meaning I had to remain hooked up to the machines in order to sustain life and heal. As a result, I was privy to the comments and oftentimes complaints of staff and visitors about the events taking place in their lives. Too much rain, too much sun. There was always something they chose to be bothered by.
I was baffled and amused, mostly. Here I was, unable to do or experience any of the things most thought were important in life, and those with the ability were regularly taking what they had for granted and talking to me about it. They were using all the faculties that I could not and complaining, rather than using what they had to seek a better way to live.
In my mind I thought, “Why don’t they see what they have?” I observed and I wondered what I could do to help. Can I be an example to my nurse of someone who once had and no longer has? I could not feel the temperature in the room. I did not know hot from cold to complain about it, either. I could not taste or smell, or feel the body or bed I was in. I was a visitor in this body, being introduced to the mindset of this world by people in my immediate environment.
As time moved on, I could not accept the attitude about life I was being shown. It didn’t make sense that so many chose not to see what was now so obvious to me. So I used my energies to inspire others, to be compassionate, to appreciate what I had witnessed, and to communicate and demonstrate how life can be lived. I felt as though I was a visitor using this body to be here, to learn, and to help others. My students were my teachers, and my teachers, my students. It was not easy, but I felt I was being supported in the process all the way.
The medical staff wanted me to know that my body and its organs were not functioning like they may have been before. Strangely enough, their comments never discouraged me. At times, I would have visions and I imagined they were coming from the memory of the cells. There were flashbacks of past occurrences that the body had experienced. They were helpful in the body’s healing process and developing my mental state. In a lot of ways, I was like a baby here to learn and to love. I had no reason to be any other way. I felt compassion not pity, and looked at all persons, knowing they were each here for a purpose.
After many years of learning and sharing, I regained the ability to use the senses, but I am not as enthused about experiencing this world with them. I now concentrate on knowing the Thing that created the world. I am at peace with life, and I figure that is what life as a human being is all about.
Abdul K. Bashir lives in Costa Rica. Please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.