>”You paint your heaven or your hell and in you go.” —Nikos Kazantzakis
“I reject your reality and substitute my own.” —Adam Savage

One of the things I find spectacular about human beings is our insistence on making meaning. We make models of reality to help us understand and move through our lives. These mental models can make the world a frightening place and stifle us or they can fill the world with possibilities and excite us.

I need a model of chronic illness that allows me to endure—NO! to thrive within—its ups and downs.

A model of triumphant recovery over illness won’t do it (because there is no cure).

A model of graceful surrender to a fatal illness won’t do it (because I won’t die from it).

The creative process includes within it the elements I find in my own life:

  • moments of baffling uncertainty
  • times of “stuckness” that I can’t seem to overcome
  • alternating movements of failure and acceptance
  • rediscovering and sharing wholeness and joy

Since I have started to believe that I am participating in a creative process, my life has gotten easier. The dark clouds pass more quickly and I weather them more gracefully. I know what to do when things get tough. I notice and appreciate the good times.

It doesn’t matter if I’m right.What matters is whether I am able to live resourcefully and compassionately within the model.

If I use my imagination to create a world in which I can flourish, regardless of the state of my health and my body, then I am free.

(Watch Pure Imagination from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.)