“When the waves close over me, I dive down to fish for pearls.” — Masha Kaleko
I’m beginning to think that wisdom is the result of finding out what you can endure.
I’ve endured a lot in my life, I’ve grown, I’ve tasted a bit of wisdom and a whole lot of acceptance.
And then this year happened. Talk about endurance.
Critical illness. Hospitalizations. Surrendering to what is, letting go of my business, accepting what I was given. The s-l-o-o-o-o-w recovery. Getting back into life.
I’ve been through some tough stuff before, and I probably will again, right?
And I’ve noticed that the big crises, and the little ones, and all the ones in between, have much in common.
When I can move through each of these tough moments in life, and see them as the healing opportunities they are, I can let go of seeing what’s happening as loss and something to fear, and start seeing each moment as a gift. Yes, it’s possible.
“Sometimes I go around pitying myself while all the time I am carried by the wind across the sky.” — Traditional Ojibwe
Accept what is. Life doesn’t always match my fantasy. (Hardly.) Sometimes small annoying things happen. Sometimes really hard stuff happens. Getting sick this summer was really hard, but I can tell you that these realizations apply to the small stuff too. One of the first things that helps me find peace and balance is acceptance. When I can accept, and stop fighting what is, I’m freed from the pain of disappointment. Then I can go even deeper, to the place where I can embrace exactly what’s happening, exactly as it is happening, and see and feel the goodness in everything.
During my long swoon, those weeks on the couch while the awful drugs were killing the c diff infection in my body, and I could do nothing but alternate sleeping and watching every episode of Prime Suspect on Netflix and too many episodes of Magnum P.I. on demand, I started to feel really sorry for myself. Pathetic. Alone. In so much fear. One day, in a session with my business coach, I had a moment of clarity, a moment when I realized that there are gifts in everything, even in this. Amazingly, I realized that now I get to share what I’ve been through with others who are also going through difficult stuff — this illness and what I’ve endured have now become a gift, another way I get to be of service. Liberating.
This too shall pass. Even this. Now that I’m not critically ill any more, now that I’m stronger, I’m so glad to have learned this lesson again. No matter how intense any experience is, it doesn’t last forever. Life is flow. And ebb. And change. It’s dynamic. As I heard in a 12-step meeting years ago, “If you don’t like your emotional reality as it is right now, wait ten minutes; it’ll change.” Same thing applies to my physical reality, my financial reality, my relational reality.
Find and express gratitude. Once I can see every moment as a gift, once I can embrace what’s happening, I can get back to gratitude. When I was sick it took a while for me to even think about gratitude, but I finally got there.
So: I’m grateful for the healers that saved my life. I’m grateful to be alive! I’m grateful for my loving family and friends who took care of me. I’m grateful to have survived. I’m grateful I made it back from my road trip before I had to be hospitalized. I’m grateful to be getting stronger every day. I’m grateful for my clients and my teammates and my online community and for how accepting and patient and loving they are. I’m grateful for the interwebs and the connections we make with each other.
Get out of self and help someone else. Every moment I am of service, every moment I am generous, I am taking a step away from the pain of my unfulfilled desires. When I can pull myself away, even just an inch away, from my self-centered wants and needs, and reach out to be of use to someone else, I’m at peace.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full 0f overcoming it.” — Helen Keller
I’ve learned so much from my journey, from my dance with illness and healing. What about you? What are you finding difficult to accept? What do you use to deal with and process what life has given you? I’m here for you, and I’d love to hear from you.