Thursday, August 28, 2008

Oh glorious life! Both your delights and challenges are transitory yet meaningful

“When we develop the capacity to ride the waves of change, letting go of our need to have reality cooperate with our own wishes and instead wishing for an ability to be comfortable with reality as it presents itself, moment to moment, we discover within ourselves an abiding calm. No longer in a state of denial about the transitory nature of existence, we are able to celebrate this fleeting life before we, too, dissolve. We are able to cherish the pleasures life does provide not because we imagine they will last forever, but because we know they are temporary.”

--Nina Wise, A big new free happy unusual life, p.76

I took the same route home yesterday that I take every day from work. Only, this time it was about 3 hours later than when I am normally on that route and I had spent the previous hour and half hanging out with my rowing team at a brewery near my work. Given my diet restrictions, I could only drink water while I was there – nothing on the menu fit with my diet – but I had planned ahead and eaten food from home. However, I had a great time socializing with my teammates, who I hadn’t seen in about a month, since I had been taking a month-long hiatus during August.

See, this summer seems to have been like frog and toad’s wild ride. Despite my best efforts, I felt like my life was complete chaos and I couldn’t accomplish anything I set out to accomplish. This is very unlike me.

It started with feeling overwhelmed with both the stress of not feeling well and dealing with the process of healing. I fought being labeled as "sick," by other people and especially by myself. Taking a lot of pills every day and having symptoms catch me by surprise here and there makes that pretty difficult. I also spent a considerable portion of the summer trying to find a job, struggling to have the energy for writing cover letters and attending interviews.

Then my apartment flooded and what little sense of stability I felt in my living situation seemed to have been turned on its head. With a broken down immune system, how was I going to be expected to live in an apartment with the potential for extensive mold growth??

Furthermore, Ben and I had been talking about moving in together, but had several “barriers” such as the size of my apartment, his 2 cats + my 1 cat = 3 cats, and questions regarding the state of my lease. When my apartment flooded, the option of moving out was potentially on the table as well…

In general, I felt like I was not in harmony with the universe. Everything I thought I wanted to do or accomplish was being thwarted by (sometimes really silly) things that seemed beyond my control. I just couldn’t fashion the life I wanted to be living.

Since I am someone who believes you can set goals and accomplish them, and that having a positive attitude and BELIEVING you can create your life are all important, it was incredibly frustrating to feel helpless. And feel like I couldn’t muster any more positivity. I had reached my life quota somehow.

So, there I was. The last time I had tried to make it to rowing practice, I had even forgone meeting up with friends the evening before so that I could get to bed at a decent time and get some much-needed sleep, after a horribly stressful day at work. I woke up when the rest of my teammates were already gathering at the boathouse, and I was laying there, wondering why my alarm didn’t wake me. I soon discovered that my alarm was indeed going off (the radio), but that I couldn’t hear it over the fan I had turned on when I went to bed. Argh.

That's enough, I said. Instead of trying to do everything and failing at it, I’m going to do as little as possible and focus on simple daily life for a while. That’s why I hadn’t seen my teammates in about a month and hadn’t seen most of my friends for probably longer than that.

However, as I biked home yesterday through Ladd’s Addition in SE Portland, I couldn’t help but notice something. The air was cool, there was a slight breeze moving the leaves on the trees, and there was little traffic, bike or car. I heard soft music coming from one of the houses, and a man stood near the window of his front porch with a glass of wine.

The neighborhood felt calm. And it made me feel calm. The universe was in some way telling me things would be alright; my wild ride was just that, a ride. A chapter in my life, which felt rougher than most, but part of my life nonetheless. And just as transitory as the good chapters.

And, I realized, the more I fight feeling tired, fighting the reality of my body’s current state, the healing process, and the things I need to do in order to feel healthy, the more I create unnecessary strain in my life. Everything we experience contributes to who we are and creates the life we were born to live.

Acceptance can be infinitely powerful; accepting the life you are meant to be leading and the things you cannot necessarily change.

The question is, what do you do with what you experience? What do you learn and how do you use it to inform or improve your life and others’ lives?

Growing up, my mom used to always emphasize that if I did the best I could, it was all my parents could ever ask of me. I am reminded of that now. I am doing the best I can and that is all I can ask of myself.

I think the best thing we can do is accept where we are in life and learn from what we experience, putting it to use in helping ourselves and especially others.

This is partly why I write this blog, so that if anything I write here helps someone else deal with whatever stumbling block they have encountered, whether it’s a celiac diagnosis or otherwise, I will feel that I have done the best I can.

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