I’ve been in a funk the past few weeks. It seems like every time I am starting to be able to get back on my feet and do more, I have an even bigger setback, and again I’m very limited and in a lot of pain. It frustrates me…this is the first time in a long time that I’ve really
struggled even with things like cooking and baking because I simply can’t get around the kitchen.
I spoke to an older and wiser trusted friend and his suggestion was choosing joy. And usually, it’s a comment that leads to considerable eye rolling on my part. It’s very easy for someone in good physical health to tell someone who’s been severely physically limited with daily chronic pain for 8 years to cheer up, count your blessings and look on the bright side. It’s always struck me as false. If I said this was all fine, I’d be lying. I’m in pain. I’ve been in pain for years. It isn’t fair that most people double my age are in better physical shape. It’s not fair that there is little, if anything, I can do to change it. Except my attitude, which is a hell of a lot harder to change, and much harder than popping a pill.
Parts of me grieve all that I’ve lost, from food to mobility to physical freedom. But the key words are parts of me. Pretending not to have sadness isn’t a way to have balance. Neither is diving headfirst into grief. Everything, from sorrow to joy to frustration to hope needs to have a seat the table and needs to be acknowledged. And yet the art is where we choose to put most of our attention. It reminds me of a traditional Native American story
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
I’ve also seen the story as a Chinese story with tigers, so I guess that proves that wisdom is universal.
I hope I can keep reminding myself to have the strength to spend most of my energy feeding beauty, love and joy. And it’s been such fun to see how much of a difference it makes when I focus my life on finding joy, no matter what. Pain seems less prominent, people seem more dear, flowers more beautiful, cats more hug-gable.
Wishing you and yours many days of joy.