The other day I had a colonoscopy. I was scared before it. I wrote this shortly after I came out…
So, I’m out of the colonoscopy. Everyone was so nice. A nurse from China. An anesthesiologist with too white teeth.
Some time ago, one of my teachers, Zen Master Soeng Hyang (Bobby Rhodes) said to me: “Let me give you the most important piece of advice anyone will ever give you. At the moment of your death, just ask ‘How can I help? How can I help?’ and then you will get a good body in your next life so you can help all people.'”
I am scared of anesthesia. I don’t like the idea of being put out, which I was for the colonoscopy. Honestly, there is some part of me that was scared I would not wake up. So I had decided ahead of time that, just as the anesthesia hit, I would keep the question. How can I help? How can I help?
I lay on my side and the anesthesiologist came with a big syringe full of whiteness (hah! just like his teeth) and put it in my IV. I felt it hit straight away. I had a moment of fear and I started saying “How can I help? How can I help?” Then, I had a thought, “You are just saying that because you are scared. You are not sincere. It doesn’t count.”
Then I had another thought, “But at this moment you are completely powerless. You cannot change the question. You cannot stop the drugs. And since you are completely at the mercy of this moment, ‘How can I help?’ is literally the only thing that makes sense.” And in that moment of letting go, “How can I help?” became sincere because it was everything.
Next, a new nurse was telling me I was all done. Everything they could see by sticking a tube up my butt looked perfect. Then, she looked at my face and said, “You know, you look like that guy from the Bee Gees.”
I said, “Who?”
She said, “I can’t remember his name.”
I said, “I don’t care about his name. Just tell me, is he hot?”
From the other side of the curtain, another nurse laughed and said, “No, he looks like Frankenstein.” Then, she stuck her had in and we all laughed.
Why am I writing about this? Because all this No Impact Man and How to Be Alive stuff, it really is a conversation about how we can all get through this thing called life together. And it gives meaning to my being scared to tell you about this experience.
It is just saying, “Yeah, it can be hard. Is it for you, too? But there are still funny nurses and stuff.” And “Huh, we must all be the same and so really there is only one thing that makes sense: How can I help? How can I help?”
Because we are all falling from a very great height to a very great depth with nothing to hit and nothing to hold onto, just like when the anesthesia hits…