When I went into the hospital, I was focusing on the kind promise “I will be joyful for no apparent reason.” I remember contemplating that, as I lay with an NG tube gurgling bile from my stomach. Joy seemed like a shining light on the horizon that I couldn’t quite reach. Thinking about it helped me feel its warmth, but it was still unattainable. Still, joy is not something to be grasped. It comes giggling around the corner when you least expect it. Chasing it will do no good. Better to sit quietly, open a space beside you (and inside you) and wait for joy to alight.
Now that it is February, I am thinking about my new creative journaling class: Befriending your Journey. It is on the edge of what’s possible for me, as I enter life as a true quadriplegic. Until recently, I had use of my left arm and hand. Now I don’t. This makes me much less able and more dependent. In fact, I am now living the life of my post-diagnosis nightmares. Two things lift me from despair: technology and meditation practice. There is hope that I can get around with a motorized wheelchair (adjustments to my old chair are underway). I can use a computer to access the Internet, write, read and do a host of other things that enable me to be both entertained and of service.
We have, in Western dominant culture, a myth that we are in control of our future – a fantasy that we can achieve our dreams. If we work hard and stay focused and get over the bumps in the road, we will attain success. It’s a lovely story, but it is privileged fiction.
The dark side of the myth is that those of us who don’t live into it (and that’s most of us) feel like failures. We aren’t.
Meditation teaches me to focus on this breath. More intimate than one day at a time or one minute at a time, one breath at a time brings me into this moment. Right here, right now (even with an NG tube) all is well.
To befriend my journey means to make peace with the path that I have traveled… Not the fictional one, but the actual one.
Here are some questions. Answer them gently and generously. It’s most elegant to ask these present tense and past tense.
- What are you learning? What have you learned?
- What are you contributing? What have you contributed?
- What brings you joy? What brings you alive? What has brought and/or brought you alive?
- How does love show itself through you? How has love shown itself through you?
That’s my first take on befriending the journey. What questions would you add?