A friend read the blog and said, “That’s interesting, but what is really going on with you and MS?”
I realize that when I write a one-on-one email that more personal descriptions of the road happen, because that’s what friends share. I will try to share the first section of the road with MS, because that reaction was a lifetime ago and I thought it would last the rest of my life.
A mentor told me, when I first was diagnosed: “This is your initiation.” Initiation sounds really romantic to me—Rosicrucians, ancient mystical rites, shamans—all these brought up exotic and tantalizing images. Multiple Sclerosis brought up an image of a doorway being slammed shut in my face. But just the concept of MS as initiation encouraged me. It didn’t make it go away, but it gave me a different way to think about it.
She was right. MS taught me something I hadn’t come to terms with before. The ancient mystical rites included a near death experience, which left the initiate with a sense, with a recognition, that the concrete reality which we accept as permanent is not at all permanent, it is as changeable as sand structures when waves wash across the beach.
I more clearly see that now.
Time passes, and my body will serve my goals as long as it can and no longer. I do not believe that concrete reality lasts forever. I do believe that this moment is precious.
That is what my initiation taught me.
It came with a truth that feels like a double edged sword—I think of it as the sword of Damocles. It is ready to fall. My physical ability is not what it was 11 years ago—believe it or not I was training for a marathon. Now I realize that with training I can do other things, but that the window of strength and opportunity will close if I don’t take advantage of what I can do now.
I want to do a part of Camino Santiago. With drop foot that makes it a dicey proposition. Drop foot is an invitation to sprain your ankle, or twist it and fall on your knee, or something that makes this Camino chancy.
But if I wait another 11 years it won’t be in the realm of reasonable hope. Now is the time. THAT is what my initiation teaches me.
There is a headiness in knowing that I can take hold of what is possible now, and that I had better do it now because time shifts abilities and strength—and I am not on the young side of those things. MS pushed me a little faster on the far side of what is physically possible, but the result is that I go for life now in a way that I didn’t before. I grasp opportunities, I do what it takes to experience those items on my bucket list.
What does that have to do with initiation?
In my mind initiates had a message for people who were still living under the illusion that concrete reality is permanent reality. Through my initiation experience brought on by MS I have a message to share, something I have learned:
This moment is unbelievably precious. The current reality will change time. The present is what we, me, all of us, any of us, have. MS brought that reality home to me.