After well over 1,000 weekly columns, I have sadly determined to quit writing for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. I've always told you the truth and will tell you the truth about this decision.
Last year I started falling for no explainable reason and wanted to sleep all the time. A regular bath would completely exhaust me. It became extremely hard to read or type -- two skills essential to a columnist. I lost a lot of my guitar-playing skills. There were other less-troublesome symptoms.
Two doctors had no idea what was wrong, but Dr. Charles Adams of Fort Oglethorpe told me he suspected I had a fairly rare kind of condition called "natural pressure hydrocephalus" and sent me to neurologist Dr. Timothy Strait for diagnosis.
Strait said I was a textbook example of NPH and did surgery on me in May at Erlanger hospital. The cause of NPH is too much fluid on the brain, so the surgery consists of installing a drain in the brain and shunting the excess fluid to the heart area.
Immediately after the surgery, the major symptoms (falling, sleeping) quickly subsided, but I am still working on typing, reading and my guitar skills. I believe I will be able at some point to type well, but I have no right to keep the TFP staff waiting on my column. They have already been more patient with me than I had any right to expect.
To practice my column-writing skills, I want to return to writing a weekly inspirational column I called My Sunday Journal. If I am able to do this, send me your email address and I will send it to you.
I cherished the TFP column because it kept me in touch with the people. When I was county mayor (from 1978 to 1994), I was always out among the people, speaking or entertaining; the newspaper column filled that need after I retired. People were always responding to things I would write.
I think people have quit calling me for entertainment because they must think I am dead or dying. Although I am in that time of life where you are constantly being tested for something, I have evidence that I am not dead and none of us know when we will be dying until it sets in. So call me at 463-5170 if you want to check my pulse.
The main reason for studying Buddhism, even if you are a Christian, as I humbly claim to be, is to learn to use your mind. I read an article last night that spoke truth about the "golden years" (meaning our gold going into the medical system). We all get weary of the tests and operations but our real psychological/spiritual problem is fear of impermanence and our attachments to the things in our life.
The Buddhists call this attachment and clinging "shenpa." They say the real problem is our resistance to "the fundamental ambiguity of being human."
I admit to having a load of shenpa, but I define it as the fear of turning loose things I love. I love writing a column and, who knows, maybe our lives will intertwine again someday despite a wheelbarrow load of shenpa.
Contact Dalton Roberts at email@example.com.