I go to a lot of art events; gallery openings, museum exhibits, and artist talks. I had attended the opening of a painter whose colors I liked but I wasn’t getting the collection. I decided to go to the artist talk to get a clearer understanding of the work figuring who better than the artist to explain her intent.
The artist took us around the gallery showing the paintings and then she pulled out her sketchbook. She showed the audience the numerous sketches of potential ideas and paintings for future work. An audience member then asked her what was her inspiration. She explained that she didn’t have a car and she would ride the bus for hours a day sketching what she saw. BINGO! Once she unlocked the code the paintings all became clearer. There was a slant to her landscapes because she was sketching them as she was passing them in a moving vehicle.
As I think about her work today, I’m wondering what in your life has that slant because you’re allowing things to pass you? Following the diagnosis of a chronic or other life-altering illness puts you in the fast lane. You’re often sucked into a world with a schedule that is overwhelming, at first, and it’s easy to see how things could pass you by, when you’re simply trying to keep up.
The artist used the idea of passing by as a theme, and it’s a great theme for art, but if you rely on that same thing in your life, what are you missing? How is your quality of life impacted by sitting on the bus and letting things pass you by? What’s the solution? Involvement. Be involved in your life.
If you’re involved in your life your quality of life increases and you have much less of a chance of being subjected to victim thinking. It’s common when people retire for them to become depressed because their work was their identity and their purpose. Perhaps they didn’t have any hobbies, interests, and limited friends. If you find yourself with a lot of time on your hands, especially if you’ve gone out on disability, you need to fill that time, but not with just anything, but with those things that make you smile, make you laugh, and remind you that you’ve still got an important life to live.
The alarm clock goes off and if you’re like me you try and figure out how many times you can hit the snooze button before you actually need to get out of bed. There are many things that people do the moment they wake up; some pray, some write down the dreams they had throughout the night and some face the day and the reality of their health challenge. No matter what we do; escaping the reality of the illness, unless we’re in denial, is virtually impossible.
This is the thing that those who don’t have a health challenge don’t understand, every day starts with a reminder of compromised health. This is one of those life experiences that gets lost in translation. It’s difficult for those not health challenge to understand what the big deal is about taking medication every day. Obviously it’s not a challenge they’ve experienced and it’s a judgment that creates a chasm between those who are healthy and those with a health challenge.
It’s not just a physical experience; it’s an emotional and spiritual experience. The idea that the physical body has betrayed you in some way can be disconcerting. The truth is that it wasn’ t intentional. Your body didn’t declare war on you as a means of punishing you…it just happens. The question is “Just because the physical body has a challenge, does your emotional and spiritual being need to be challenged?” This is a huge question because splitting the physical experience of the illness from the other aspects of the self can instill hope.
I don’t want to deny the fact that there will be a learning curve adjusting to new daily regimens. How will you create a helpful perspective about the daily reminder of your health challenge? Can you reframe it as empowering yourself to aid in your own health and healing? It provides you with a sense of control over your own life. You get to decide how you’ll experience the challenge and if you’re being active in the healing process you’ll be turning up the volume on your healing process.
You have a choice to make every time you open your eyes in the morning. You can either wake up and say to yourself, “I’ve got another day of battle”, or you can wake up and say to yourself, “I have one more day to work toward my own wellness and see what new treatments are coming down the pipeline”. This isn’t about freezing yourself till the day when the medical community comes up with a cure; it’s about creating a safe space for you to acknowledge the daily reminder and move on and find a way to have as many positive experiences as possible. It may take some practice, but hang in there…you’ll get it!