… I am afraid that many of us with privilege have been able to become very naïve about pain and suffering in the United States and the Western world. We simply don’t have time for it. However, by trying to handle all suffering through willpower, denial, medication, or even therapy, we have forgotten something that should be obvious: we do not handle suffering; suffering handles us— in deep and mysterious ways that become the very matrix of life and especially new life. Only suffering and certain kinds of awe lead us into genuinely new experiences. All the rest is merely the confirmation of old experience.
… In this time of suffering we have to ask ourselves, what are we going to do with our pain? Are we going to blame others for it? Are we going to try to fix it? No one lives on this earth without it. It is the great teacher, although none of us want to admit it. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it in some form. How can we be sure not to transmit our pain onto others?
~ Richard Rohr
Knowing how to create moments of joy and happiness is crucial for our healing. It’s important to be able to see the wonders of life around us and to recognize all conditions for happiness that already exist.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
One of the things I’m learning lately is that life is a paradox. (Oh, okay, I knew that. I’m noticing it more is perhaps the better way to put it.) I think we can speak of pain and suffering alongside of joy and healing. A lot of spiritual paths do. It’s not about negative and positive, but about the ways of life. You can hold on to positive thoughts while recognizing the suffering that goes on the world, in ourselves.
You might be wondering what happened to me after that string of posts over the past two weeks. I wasn’t feeling well, something that’s been ongoing since the colonoscopy. While I’m still not quite up to snuff, I’m better. I managed to avoid a trip to the ED (or the ER, as we used to refer to it) by going on a liquid diet for two days. That calmed everything down. I suspect stress has been a major factor in the problem. It’s a problem I experienced before, after another abdominal procedure (surgery) back in 2015. It took months to get a correct diagnosis. I might be able to skip all that this time around since I have some good theories on what the problem is, even if the doctors refuse to listen. I did call the doctor’s office, in case you’re wondering, and was reassured that I’m not going to drop dead right away and that a trip to the ED is not necessary unless I start to exhibit worse symptoms. They think that’s highly unlikely given it’s been three weeks since the procedure. Yay! for that.
Anyhow. I am still practicing self-care, as you might have guessed. Slightly more extreme self-care over the weekend, and an easing back into things self-care now. I continued to walk, because it helped. I continued to meditate, because it helped. I will not be running any marathons anytime soon but realistically, I wasn’t expecting to. lol!
If my numbers are correct, and I think they are, today is day 10 of the 40-day self-care challenge. How are you? Taking care, I hope. Staying home, if your job and life and privilege permit, I hope. I know some people are still not taking this seriously. They are still out and about, living life as usual. Is it denial or selfishness or a lack of understanding? Maybe all of the above. I don’t know. Perhaps, for some, the best way to approach it would be to let them know it’s unpatriotic of them to be out and about, that they are putting the healthcare workers and first responders at risk by not staying home. And if you’re in the state of Maryland, it might get you arrested. Our governor issued a stay-at-home order yesterday. We were already under a voluntary one. I guess some folks needed a stronger reminder.
Tangents aside (and back to the self-care project), I put on my pedometer today. I had no goal in mind. I just want to see where I’m at with my steps. Two short walks yielded approximately 6200 steps. I will likely keep it somewhere in that range for a while. It’s enough for now. I did a short and modified yoga practice, and enjoyed a long meditation.
Sharon Salzberg has put together a few resources here. No registration or email address required. And Stephen Jenkinson of Orphan Wisdom (you might recognize his name from the book I read about elderhood, Come of Age) wrote this essay: Window. It’s a good read, if you have the time.
Spring continues to unfurl and unfold here in the slowest, softest, tenderest way I’ve ever experienced. Usually spring in this part of the world is loud and fast, rushing through in bursts of color before we’ve had a chance to appreciate and see all that is happening. This year is different. Bouncing between warm and cool weather undoubtedly has a lot to do with that. It’s a wonderful gift from Mother Nature, and I’ve been expressing my thanks to her every time I go out to see what’s new.
Thank you for spending a little time with me today, in this virtual way. The clouds are thick and there is rain in the forecast so I don’t expect we’ll see much in the way of sunset this evening. Let’s stay in and enjoy the warmth of the fire in the woodstove (because yes, it’s chilly enough to have one tonight), sip on tea, and talk about whatever comes to mind.
Be safe, be well. ♥♥♥
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,311) My gut. I think I’ve been ignoring the messages coming from my gut (intuition) a lot over the past few months, and the current situation might be a way of reminding me to pay attention. I am grateful for that. 1,312) M, always. He is, to me, the world’s most amazing man. 1,313) The Yoga Darsana class. We’ve become a little community and I truly appreciate the Monday and Wednesday night gatherings and lectures. (Online, of course!) We are currently studying the Bhagavad Gita and boy, is that timely! 1,314) This amazing spring we’ve been experiencing. 1,315) Kindness. It’s something we always need but I suspect it’s more urgent that we all practice it as much as possible now. From what I’ve seen, many people are doing just that — speaking the good words, saying the thank you’s, and helping when and where they are able.