Some circumstances carry more weight than others.
Or at least we think they do.
Hey there, beautiful human. How are you dancing today through your busy, messy, sometimes easy, sometimes baffling, and sometimes just really hard life? Are you meeting yourself where you’re at, or are you agonizing over circumstances that you find just too hard to accept? Like chronic pain, for example?
When conditions stop you, or scare you, or just plain make you want to stomp your feet and say “No! Not this, no way,” it can feel like your access to joy, grace, and ease is blocked. Clarity gives way to confusion, and peace of mind feels like an impossible goal.
Take my physical body for example.
I’m in my 60s, and I get to walk around, greet the world, and do my work in a changing, battle-scarred body.
- I’ve had some scary health issues for years, and this year brought my first-ever ambulance rides, visits to the emergency department, and now a series of tests to try and diagnose what’s going on.
- I walk around in a body that has seemingly outlived some of its parts (I lost a fractured tooth at the end of last year, which has been really difficult for my vanity). I will say that it’s been hard to feel good about this particular circumstance. Unwilling to spend $6,000 on an implant has left me walking around with a gap in my mouth about which I am wildly self-conscious.
- Living heedless of my own safety and that of others for as long as I did has left me with some long-term gifts: spinal stenosis, shredded ligaments, repetitive strain injuries, and more (a condition labeled chronic pain, or fibromyalgia pain, by my doctors).
Chronic pain is a hard one.
But what if that’s the good news?
Here’s what I think: when something that makes you feel so victimized and so weighed down by fear and worry and resentment can be met as it is, when you can meet yourself where you’re at with a sense of ease and perspective, miracles can happen.
I heard this decades ago in a 12-step meeting:
If we all put our problems (a.k.a. circumstances) in the center of this table, I promise you that you would pick up your own problems on the way out the door. (Think about it.)
This story is a reminder that things could always be worse.
I was recently interviewed for a podcast, and I recounted some of the mishaps that caused spinal stenosis in my body:
- Driving on the wrong side of the road after being up for four days on amphetamines. I crested a hill, hit a parked car head-on, and totaled both cars. I took the steering wheel to my chin, nearly biting my tongue in half.
- Driving four blocks out of my way on Quaaludes and alcohol, hitting a parked car head on (on the wrong side of the street); this time I took the steering wheel to my neck and smashed two fingers into the dashboard (this was in the 70s and those fingers hurt to this day). Totaled both cars again.
- Fell out of a tree on LSD, landed on my head, and refused to be seen at the hospital (checked myself out of the emergency room against medical advice).
The podcast host (whose eyes were bugging out of his head just a bit) said “Well, at least you didn’t kill anybody.” That’s right, I didn’t kill anybody. But I could have. And that’s really important to remember. I could’ve killed someone. It could’ve been worse. It could have been much worse.
We all get a plate.
We all get a plate, and on that plate are the jewels through which we can transform ourselves. Life has no shortage of growth opportunities.
My plate — sometimes it feels like it’s overflowing with circumstances that are challenging, scary, and just plain tiring.
Some days my plate pisses me off and weighs me down.
Some days what’s on my plate seems completely irrelevant to my level of joyful engagement with my life, my loved ones, and my work.
Some days it just feels like a dance, and I get to step lightly, move freely, let the music move through me, even when the choreography is unpredictable and unfamiliar.
How are you dancing with / moving through / meeting your circumstances?
If you too have chronic pain, or recurring challenging pain, or any kind of dis-ease, I invite you to join me and my friend Damian Mark Smyth on a free call on Monday, March 19th, at 10 a.m. Pacific — Chronic Pain: Leveling the Playing Field.
On the call, you’ll be invited to share your own experiences of dealing with chronic pain. If you’ve been wondering how to increase your sense of “living” — feeling happy, joyful, and free — and step away from feeling that life is mostly about “enduring,” “struggling,” and “suffering,” this call is for you.
Register for the free call here. See you then.