Being, Doing, Being, Doing
I read recently that believing that “Life should be fair” is irrational thought and, since the source was fairly credible I suppose it made sense to me to take in that information and attempt to process it. It certainly makes things much simpler to understand about this nutso world we live in…if we stop trying to view it with the thought in mind that life should be fair, the rest is easy to accept. Our world is simply terrible, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, good people have bad things happen to them all the time and equally bad people have good things happen to them. Now, in my “life should be fair” state of mind, this is frustrating stuff, the things that make my blood boil, that raise my ire and indignation about the world and the way things happen so often. Now, take away the rose colored “life should be fair” glasses & we can just accept casually that this is a crappy world and that’s just the way things are. Why fight it? But which is healthier? The naive idealistic view that life really should be fair and wanting to do something about it or the passe outlook that life sucks and no matter how much we want our ideals to be truth, no amount of work is really going to make a dent in the suckiness of the world so why try? The latter is easier if you can add on the belief of karma because at least you can feel that while injustice may rein supreme in the way the world works NOW, each of these situations will, in time…even if it’s lots of time, be corrected as everyone works out their karma or in some cases, finds that later on, karma bites them in the ass. That’s kind of a nice combo, no stress now in terms of worrying about injustice and the crappiness of our culture and societies around the world BUT with the inner secret knowing that all will be put right in the end when the evil people in the world finally get what’s coming to them. Maybe that’s what Charles Dickens was thinking when he wrote the first part of A Christmas Carol and Jacob Marley comes to visit Scrooge lugging with him the chains he forged in life by being a heartless jerk. A perfect vision of karma at work.
But, I find it difficult to not to apply the irrational reasoning that “life should be fair”. I guess my life would be a lot simpler and less frustrating if I could…which is why I’m “sitting” with it, pondering and thinking it over. Having said that, once you “sit” with something, I’m not 100% sure how you go about actually changing your paradigm of life and incorporating the new view. I think I want to incorporate it because, even though it means seeing the world as sucky as it is, there isn’t this constant feeling of being wronged by fate and I think it makes the whole concept of “acceptance” easier to deal with. Which is really why I went on this whole rant.
I have a lot on my plate right now in a number of different manifestations. I mean A LOT. Like more than I can handle and certainly more than I WANT to handle. So, let’s cut to the chase, at 34, I find myself disabled, any dreams of what I thought my life might look like at this point completely dashed, smashed and broken, I’m in constant pain from a multitude of disorders and areas of my body. I’m on a walker, with oxygen, respiratory support devices and machines, I can’t get out of bed without physical assistance (literally) and I’m facing multiple surgeries starting in the next month or so and I have no idea how many it will be or if it will even help. And, that’s on top of the 30-some-odd (I’ve lost actual count) bronchoscopies I’ve had, several respiratory surgical procedures, weeks in the ICU, other surgeries for more problematic issues and more testing and scans than I ever thought possible. I feel like a failure, and why not? My body is certainly failing and falling apart at a much earlier time than I had ever scheduled in my mind. I mean, I figured maybe in my 60’s, 70’s, 80’s etc I’d deal with some physical pain and health issues but not NOW. And how am I supposed to be a good partner for my husband when I can’t do the most basic things (like get out of bed) for myself any more? Yet, I’m told time and again how strong I am, what a great job I’m doing, even that I’m an inspiration. That’s sounds like it would be amazing to hear people say, and in a lot of ways it is, but part of me feels so disingenuous…because I don’t feel like I’m coping with all of this well. I don’t know if it’s OK in people’s eyes for me to have a bad day…or lots of bad days, or bad months even. How do I let them know that’s a part of what I go through? I want to be gently lifted and assisted off of the pedestal that I’ve been inadvertently put on rather than knocked off with a great push, especially when I never wanted to be on anyone’s pedestal to begin with. It’s so hard to have all of these challenging life changes thrust upon me, with me having no choice in the matter at all. So I think in order to survive so many situations where you have no choice in what happen to you or what you have to deal with, that the natural counterpart to that is to look and seek out situations where you DO have choices in what happens in your life. But, for me, I always end up seeking out big things where I have a choice. I suppose it would be healthier if I could be satisfied with smaller things like what I want to eat or what music I want to listen to or what film I want to watch. Instead, I want something that’s a cosmic sized choice to counter the seemingly cosmic size life-altering pain and disability that I didn’t get a chance to choose or say yes or no to. I need that huge alternate choice to balance out the terrible hand of cards I was dealt. And, I suppose the ultimate counterpart to a terrible hand of cards is to fold, right? It’s saying “no” in the most direct way possible. It’s saying I’m not going to take these cards. I’m giving them back. I’m not going to play this game anymore. Who wants to say “OK, I’ll live with this horrible hand I’ve been dealt and I’ll cope with and struggle through life with it each and every day as though it’s what I wanted in the first place”? I don’t want to say that! I don’t want to do that. But I think that leaves me stuck. Because I’m afraid that I’m beginning to realize that acceptance is saying, “OK, I didn’t want this but since I don’t have a choice, I’m going to live with it anyway and accept that either 1) I didn’t have a choice and that’s OK or 2) This isn’t my choice but I’m going to choose it anyway.” My problem with that is I don’t like either of the above statements and to say I do, is not being authentic to who I am. But, I’m concerned that I won’t be able to live with or hopefully, someday, overcome this horrible unplayable hand I’ve been dealt until I’ve accepted that I’ve been dealt it and that is my current reality. The challenge to that is, how to accept it, without losing hope that it could, someday, change and become better than it is now. Because it feels to me like accepting this hand is acknowledging that it’s OK, and that it doesn’t have to get better for me to be OK with it. And that, I can’t cope with.
Having said all that, I admitted tonight to Steven that I don’t believe that this life will get better or that I’ll find treatments that will make life livable again and something manageable for me. It’s counter to my experience the past three years. It’s been a dizzying merry-go-round of one thing after another falling apart and just about the time you think one piece may be getting better another part breaks and the unending pain continues. So, why would I think that would change? Nothing thus far has shown me that it could. So, I’m back to being 34 on a walker, O2, breathing machines, leg braces, unable to get out of bed on my own with several surgeries in the very near future. Not a very compelling place to be. And yet, I know that there are people out there who have worse problems than I do, and I feel guilty for not dealing with my situation better given that however bad anyone’s situation is, there is always someone who’s worse off in one way or another. Now, dealing with all of this in this crazy manner, it’s suggested to me, that what I can and can’t do doesn’t actually matter a bit but that the value of me as a person is just in my “being”. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this for awhile now, sitting with it, grappling with it, and I can’t seem to make it make sense to me. How can I have value if I can’t do things to contribute in some way to the world around me? And I don’t understand how me just simply taking up space in the universe and cosmos, using up resources, can be a beneficial thing – let alone the primary thing I should see as valuable about myself. How can that be? How can just “be-ing” and nothing else be of value? How does that make my life valuable and why is it valuable? I been shown that I see myself as a “human doing” rather than a “human being” and that I find my worth not in who I AM but in what I DO. But I think that’s why you hear the term “human being” less and less often anymore in favor of the much more open and shorter term “human”. Because without the “being” tacked on, we can be a human anything… Yet, I can see the benefit and the good in other people without them having to do something. I get joy, comfort, peace, happiness just from being in the same room with them, regardless of what they’re doing. In fact, I daresay that often what they’re “doing” even gets in the way of my enjoying their beingness because the doing takes them away into another world where they may be happy, sad, busy, preoccupied, frustrated and I experience those emotions through them rather than just getting life from the soul of who they are. But, try as I might and clear as I can see it with other people, I can’t figure out how to apply that same worth and life-giving aura to myself, no matter how much I try. I guess that early in life, me “being” never was enough to make the people around me happy but “doing” and especially “doing well” would get positive feedback. So I realized that in order to be loved and cared about, I needed to do things especially well so I could have that praise and attention that each human child craves.
So in my mind, just being isn’t enough for anyone and I truly don’t understand anyone who thinks that it is. But I want to, and that’s my problem.