Ever feel like you’re in a cartoon and a light bulb appears above your head? There are times in our lives when we have an epiphany or we are about to birth some enormous transformation and that energy radiates from our hearts. I am about to embark on one of those transformational experience…I’m beginning my Doctorate in Ministry next week. It’s something I’ve been contemplating for the past four years and earlier this year I made the commitment and I’m beginning my journey.
I noticed something this week…I’ve been a bit frustrated and cynical. I wrote my monthly President’s Message for my art guild and found myself very disapproving and disappointed. I didn’t submit it for publication figuring I may need to re-read the piece before three hundred people get wind of my internal workings. The next day I did modify it but I also had a conversation with someone I trust about my current predicament.
He gave me his perspective on change that I found very helpful. His experience has shown him that when we are about to engage in something transformational and those around us are not in that space we get frustrated and even judgmental. We expect that everyone will have their epiphany at the same time or be motivated to make enormous changes in their lives.
I’ve seen this a lot when someone is diagnosed with a life-altering illness. They see that taking care of themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually is paramount to beating the odds and when others don’t have the same vision they experience that inner tension I’ve described. First, be thankful that you have had the vision to put yourself first and actively participate in your well-being. Second, you can’t drag someone to an epiphany, sometimes they need their own whack in the head for that to happen. Third, it may not be that others aren’t evolved but that we’ve been lagging behind and everyone else is ahead of us. Our pilgrimage is individual and can’t be compared to that of another person. We need to focus on our own journey because we have to stay aware of our bodies, our hearts and our surroundings to achieve success.
Do you pay attention to statistics? Would you make decisions about your life based on numbers? Are you overwhelmed by the numbers that show up in the media? I was listening to an interview on NPR and they were discussing the impact that statistics related to crime have on the public. A number of people called in saying that the more they report the statistics the more they detach from what the numbers represent.
I was wondering if this is true when it comes to life-altering illnesses. When you hear the statistics about cancer, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, etc. does it keep you engaged enough to be aware of your own body? Do you stay up on physicals with your doctor in case something was a problem you’d catch it at it’s very early stage?
As with the crime rates, does reporting health statistics make you more involved in your community? In some cases I’ve known people who have become environmental activists to help clean up areas that have severe health impacts. I’ve met people who become activists or supporters of stem cell research because they’re life literally depends on it but also because they follow the numbers.
Look at your life and see if you follow the numbers. If nothing else make a conscious decision because consciousness is the key.
What is it about humans that we often keep things contained in neat little compartments? Why is it that we have all this good stuff inside and don’t really show the rest of the world the magnificence we possess? Why does it often take an explosion of some kind to get us to wake up?
I’ve been thinking a lot about birthday parties (as today is my birthday) and I think to kids parties where there is a pinata. We are a lot like pinatas. We keep all the good stuff inside, sealed up and it’s often not until we get whacked with a stick very hard that we let all the good stuff out.
That’s often been my experience with individuals who have been given a life-altering diagnosis. When the diagnosis is given that’s the whack and that’s when people’s priorities change, their values are put out to the world, they believe in themselves in new ways. Why does it take this crack in our own cosmic egg to make this happen? Once we let our true selves out it’s amazing that response we get from people.
When people see who we really are they are more willing to be part of our support team. Letting out all our magnificence allows us to make better choices about people and things we have in our lives. As pilgrims it’s important to keep ourselves open for others to see. Anonymity keeps us separate and that’s a difficult emotional place to escape.
Having received one whack is enough…don’t wait to show yourself to the world because believe me if you do keep it all inside, another whack is just around the corner.
Ever walk in a bookstore and over the self-improvement aisle to see a wall of books? Last night I was at the bookstore and my first decision was I didn’t want self-improvement I wanted someone to do it for me (I was a bit lazy last night), then I wanted to see what they had in the health aisle…it wasn’t much.
Always one of my concerns for people given a health diagnosis is that it’s common for them to take the written word as gospel. I have seen too many people following the books and wondering when the next symptom discussed was going to fall at their feet and invade their body. When we are vulnerable we are suggestible.
When I was in graduate school studying to be a psychotherapist I had to take a course in psychopathology using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (at the time DSM-IV). The professor’s first words were don’t be surprised if you develop intern syndrome. We all looked at her with confusion and then she explained. Intern Syndrome is when you read about, in our case, a disorder and you start to develop the symptoms on the list.
The funny part is that we all have some quirks and as they say everything in moderation is okay. But do these books that we all gobble up looking for solace leave us in despair because of what might happen to us; leaving us on pins and needles waiting for the other shoe to drop. My hope as that walking the pilgrim’s path you will question everything and make decisions about the information you ingest. Remember, in many cases what you read is opinion based on their experience, and their experience is probably not your experience.
I believe pilgrim’s have a unique journey because the nature of the pilgrim is to live with questions. I hope you keep that nature alive and well. I can tell you that keeping my focus on the question has served me well.
Recently I had the distinct please of hearing Tami Simon, the founder of Sounds True, speak at a local meeting of the Association for Spirit as Work. Tami discussed her personal pilgrimage to the creation of a thriving business. She shared her personal challenges and the point where she knew she had to make a decision that would impact her for years to come.
The key point that caught my attention was the idea of “creation out of desparation”. Most people think of creating as a way of expressing oneself or sharing a gift. We look at creation as something organic that has it’s own path. The idea of “creation out of desparation” might seem counter-intuitive, but it does follow the idea that “necessity is the mother of invention”.
Pilgrim’s create their purpose and their reality. It’s clear what the reality is when the doctor presents you with a diagnosis, but what are you going to create in your life as you make that journey toward well-being, better health or improved quality of life. Don’t think of this as being backed into a corner, think of it as being given a shopping spree toward your own well-being. Consider it carte blanche to put yourself on any path you believe will move you closer to your desired outcome.
So many look at this as a time of limited opportunities, but as a pilgrim I hope you’ll look at this as a license to create anything you desire that will improve your health, make treatment easier, bring back your joie de vivre, but most of all I hope you have the opportunity to create moments of love and laughter.