Part 1: “When I was young and ill, all I cared about was the result, about scalpels and scars.”
Part 2: “But in this waltz with prostate cancer, I’ve cared about the process, too. All along, I’ve wanted to know what this cancer could teach me, and I like to think that I’ve gripped it just as hard as it has gripped me.
“In embracing the cancer and its teachings, I’ve also embraced mysteries that I couldn’t have imagined more than a year ago. And that’s an absolute adventure, too” (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/19/
For some of us there are wisdom learnings that come only wrapped in strange unexpected diseases.
Life is so mysterious, answers and questions come seemingly from nowhere, and so when an impressive
doctor told me that Eastern wisdom tells us to learn from our illness I wondered what the lessons would be. I also wondered if they would be worth the price. The jury was still out.
Now I am looking at my own growth, my own path.
Like the NYTimes editor I see my learnings as happening in two parts.
Part 1: My initial learnings were like a warrior’s territory—I fought for “my” ground and I also felt like my shield must never be dropped.
That’s the stuff in my first book—how to have your best life with MS. My theory was that in order to have a good—a better—the best—life, that a battle with MS was going to ensue—an inner battle—a claiming of the territory of my life.
Part 2: This year the lessons are different.
This year I am learning to meet a part of me that was strong when I was very small, but that got pushed aside so that I could do the things that made my life growth happen. I have found that quiet person who isn’t so interested in shining in a group.
My life has gotten quieter since I retired, and I crave the morning routine that ends with a conversation with a journal and the river outside my window.
I live in the Northeast, and the weather is loud here—it changes often, moves around, colors and shapes are different according to the seasons. I love this life.
This conversation is my most recent learning. It has slowed me down so that I can see some things. One thing I see is that MS is an experience that has a personality. I see MS, not as threatening my identity, but as a part of what I carry around in life.
The MS experience is a part of me like my fingers are mine—I know the shape of my nails, and I know the shape of my MS.
My own challenge of MS is individual, has a personality and demands and a relationship with me, a conversation with me.
Some of my friends express this too.
One friend wrote that he felt good one morning, but that his legs were in a bad mood that day. Another wrote that she doesn’t talk about having MS, she just considers that she carries it around with her while she lives her life.
It isn’t just MS that gives these lessons. A friend of mine said she has always considered the illness to be her companion (not her enemy, which I have called MS at times).
Having a relationship with what is going on with MS is another way of knowing that we are not swallowed up by the experience of medications and MS identity.
Instead of getting lost in the mix of diagnoses, symptoms and medications, it seems that our lives keep getting more texture. The evolving life-learnings keep defining new aspects of life, of ourselves, that were not apparent before.