Learning through Crisis

When I was in Adelaide for my angiogram the other week, the first thing I did was to find a book store to grab a copy of ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’ by Sogyal Rinpoche.  I have long wanted to read this and given the news about my aneurysm, the time seemed right.  As there is only one bookstore left in Alice Springs and they would need to order it in, getting one in Adelaide was far easier.

I have practiced meditation on and off now for nearly 20 years and have settled my practices in the mindfulness camp and my ‘studies’ within the Buddhist.  These practices and ideas bring me comfort at times of great pain or turmoil and a path to follow when I feel cast adrift by life’s adventures.

My newly acquired book has already affected me deeply and will continue to, both in the lead up to my surgery and after it.

I had thought myself committed to the path of being of ‘service’ but upon reflection, realise how I let my thinking and behavioural habits constrain me.   From time to time, I hear stories of someone who has experienced a health crisis such as a cancer scare or ordeal and everything changes for them.  They quit their job or leave a relationship, move somewhere lovely and start doing something wonderful, something they have always dreamt of doing.  They have an ‘a-ha’ moment and realise their life is short and refuse to waste anymore of it.

I have had my fair share of health crises and have done a lot of reflecting, changing and growing often through extremely painful reassessment and self-recriminations.  I have thought myself on the threshold of a new way so many times, it is embarrassing to again find myself striving for the same things, once recovered; forgetting the delicate balance needed to sustain my health.

I have disguised (unintentionally) this striving by doing work that is for others, work that contributes in some way to an improved life for members of the community but still I strive to excel, to work as hard as I can and that is where the compromises begin and everything else important in my life begins to suffer neglect.

How many times can I make the same mistake, fall down with physical ailments, be stripped of strength, fitness, independence, become fragile mentally, put my relationships under strain…how many times will I revisit this place, revisit calamity before I have my ‘a-ha’ moment and cast off the shackles binding me to this path of repeated errors.

As I pondered this, I read the following poem in my new book:

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

I fall in.

I am lost…I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in…it’s a habit

My eyes are open

I know where I am

It is my fault.

I get out immediately. 


I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.


I walk down another street.


I hope I am now ready to ‘walk down another street’.

One thought on “Learning through Crisis

  1. you WILL walk down another street …. not that there is a promise that that will be only smooth, but it will move you on and allow you to go further …

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