The Best Advice I Can Offer In 5 Minutes or Less
The best advice I can offer in a life of chronic pain
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I know. Here she goes again; but you are curious, aren’t you? We’ve been chatting about the many ways we can make it through all of this misery and altered existence for quite awhile now. How could I possibly pick one or two pieces of advice that I think are the best? I guess it sort of sneaked up behind me today and kicked me in my, well, kicked me in my “motivation.”
Sure, we have to live with pain everyday. Yes, it’s true we can no longer go to work or if we do, it’s miserable. We talk about doctors, we tackle exercise, we chat about diets and we often share questions about medications. All of that is good, important and helpful but it’s not the key to a locked up life. If I had duct tape on my mouth, which is what it would take to shut me up, and could utter only one piece of advice it would be this: Keep moving and find your passion. The first is good for your body and gives you a sense of gratification. The second feeds your starving soul.
As Homo sapiens, I don’t think we can have our lives altered this drastically without a sense of starvation or loss. We had a plan for our lives and that plan has changed. None of us planned, when we were small to grow up and be disabled. We didn’t change life, our health did. We’re still here. The questions which arise are numerous and spring from our anger, our deep sense of loss and that wee small spark of desire to survive. One day, after all the kicking and screaming, that spark grows and we know we want to make the most of that which we have left.
You can achieve a satisfying life and accomplish most of what you want to but you may have to do it one brick at a time. Brick by brick you can build a wall, a sidewalk or a house. Inch by inch you can move across the floor, out the door and down the street. Grain by grain the tiny ants move their load until they accomplish their goal. Does it matter how long it takes if the job or the joy gets done? We live in a world of instant gratification and speed. We need to stop thinking like the Road Runner and instead learn to think like the turtle. Now we have to think, pray and examine our hearts and minds. We have to adjust our thinking. It isn’t like it used to be. It’s not fast, instantaneous or easy; but it is living. As long as you and I are alive, we’re breathing. As long as we have breath in us, we have time. With time, introspective thought and prayer, we can look into our hearts and find our passion. With time, we can find a way, even if it is altered, to indulge that passion. Your passion is that which makes you who you are. It’s expressing the gifts you have been given; exploring your talents and finding what you love. You have to keep moving in order to indulge that which you discover.
Today I was shaken out of my pain with a rousing bout of spring fever. In spite of the rain outside, sun shone in the windows and I saw the grime on them, the cobwebs left behind by the acrobatic winter spiders and I felt helpless. I despise that sense of deep dissatisfaction that comes to all of us when we are overwhelmed by a chore or project and believe we can’t do it. It’s a frustration so deep it makes you feel utterly useless. Do you flee, throw yourself onto your bed and cry? Sometimes, that’s exactly what I feel I have to do, but not today. Today I stood tall, looked and listened as spring fever beckoned. I reminded myself I could do it. I became the Terminator, Superwoman and Wolverine. Today I said, “No, by God, I’m going to do this.”
I took a pain pill, put on some of my favorite CD’s, no it wasn’t the theme to ROCKY, it was James Galway embracing the flute and Bela Fleck on the banjo. I loaded a small pan I could lift with warm water, grabbed a bottle of spray cleaner and a sponge. I placed a small stool in front of the ugliest, dirtiest kitchen cabinet which was next to the stove and went to work. I scrubbed two cabinets and four drawers. I found crumbs beside the stove that the floor cleaner, my trusty Scooba had missed and went after them with a vengeance. The wood of the birch cabinets began to gleam. The floor began to shine and I felt a sense of satisfaction come over me. That was it. That was enough. The dirt, grime and grease on the other cabinets will wait for another day. The inchworm has nothing on this Superwoman. I can clean one section of my kitchen. I can return it to what I want it to be, piece by piece.
Although it was raining outside, I carried in a small hanging pot, stuck it in the kitchen sink and cleaned out all of the winter debris, old roots and leaves. Then I planted a lovely new variegated pink geranium in it as well as a couple of other plants to give it variety. After that, I felt the reward of a lay down on the bed and chatted with some of you via the internet. I was in pain, but it was, somehow, a good pain. I didn’t need to cry or feel despondent because I had accomplished something. I kept moving and I indulged one of my passions.
As far as finding your passion, that is the best part of all of this suffering. Some of us have been that Road Runner for far too long. We each must find our own way in that regard. Buried deep within each of us is something we long to do; something we have the talent to do and something which lights a fire within us. I had always wanted to write but didn’t have the time. Now I have the time and the breath. I also love to quilt, do needlework and putter in the potted garden. I discover new passions every week. Wedged in between the bouts of pain, self-pity and loss, like dandelions springing up in the cracks in a sidewalk, the roots of my life demand the sunshine.
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