Note: This email is dictated to Eddie Baran from my bed in New York city.
I’m lying flat on my back with both my eyes closed and
my hands resting on my heart center. I had surgery
this morning for the detached retina of my right eye.
According to the doctor “I did very well.”
This morning I got dressed in a special Zen Master
suit – purple in color – that I have never worn
before. I didn’t know why I brought this suit with me
on this trip, but it is apparent to me now. In the
summer of 1982, some 25 years ago, I was wearing a
purple shirt when a man struck me in the face with a
beer pitcher that sliced open my skin from my forehead
to my neck. I’ll never forget the doctor in emergency
at the University of Iowa hospital who pulled several
shards of glass from my eye, then said: “I think
somebody upstairs was looking out for you. I don’t
know how you can still see.”
When Eddie Baran and I got into the taxi this morning to
go to Columbia University Hospital, Eddie pointed to the
name of the driver.
“This guy is a sherpa,” said Eddie.
I said “You mean one of those guides up the Himalayas
“I think so,” said Eddie.
I then noted music in the background, a monk’s chant.
I asked the driver “Where are you from?”
“Nepal,” he said.
“Will you do me a favor, please?” I asked. “Can you
turn up the music so I can hear it better? I have eye
surgery today and I’m happy you’re my guide.”
He smiled from ear to ear as he turned up the music. I
closed my eyes and listened all the way to the
When we got to the hospital, I asked “How much?”
The sherpa replied “18.95.”
I gave him a 100-dollar bill, thanked him and told him
to keep the change.
Once inside the operating room, Dr. Fine – a fine name
for a surgeon, I think – spent five minutes working on
my left eye with a laser with the intention of
preventing the same detachment. Then he went to town
on my right eye. He began at 11:20 am and finished at
exactly 1:20 pm. He told me we hadn’t put a gas bubble
into your eye and when you come see me tomorrow,
hopefully you won’t have to. I smiled. Then he,
another doctor and Eddie Baran wheeled me into recovery.
Whilst in recovery the nurse told me I had a phone
“On the hospital line?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. She handed me the phone and I said hello.
“Matthew, it’s Dharma.”
When I heard this good doctor
and spiritual master’s voice I was elated. He may not
dress like you or me, yet he has a heart of gold.
“I tracked you down,” Dharma said.
I said “That, you did.”
Dharma then told me there was “light at the end of the
I returned to my hotel an hour later with strict
instructions to lie on my back with my eyes closed. No
exercise for 3-4 weeks.
Carol Brown and Eddie informed me that there are
thousands of emails that have poured in from all over
the world. I asked Eddie to read me just one. It is from
a person that I coach who has shown me many
kindnesses. This email filled me with great love and
gratitude. Eddie asked me if I wanted him to continue
with others. I said “I can’t look right now. I can’t
cry right now. And I think many of these emails will
rip my heart out.”
When I get better and am able to read again, I will
treasure every message sent to me. I have asked Carol
to save all, as I am truly honored to hear from you.
About the color purple. After the surgery, as I began
to lie still, I noticed great pain in places I didn’t
have surgery. At first I thought it strange but then I
quickly realized that surgery was doing far more than
reattaching my retina. This surgery has given me an
opportunity to completely heal wounds from the past.
And so I am grateful. Tomorrow at 9 am, I have the
dressing and shield removed from my right eye. I
humbly request that you keep me in mind. All your
thoughts and prayers are welcome.
All for now,
Zen Master of the Internet®