Imagine, you're outside walking down the sidewalk.
The sun is shining.
The birds are singing.
The air is fresh.
And YOU are completely aware life is a gift and a miracle to be treasured.
Then, suddenly, without warning, you stub your toe
...not a small stub either.
A BIG stub...
like your toe is broken.
You no longer appreciate the sun
or the breeze
or the beauty.
You know they're there,
but the toe gets all of your attention (as it should).
But, for how long?
That's the question.
That is my summation of how Mark Nepo describes life with chronic pain/illness. As a cancer survivor, Mark reflects on his journey in The Book of Awakening which was recently featured on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. He also recently suffered from a mysterious stomach illness that had him reeling in agony from even the smallest bite of food.
According to Mark:
Each of us are ancient flutes made out bones.
Our holes, hollowed out by pain, create beautiful music.
Still, being hollowed out is never fun in the process.
"Were you afraid to die?" asked Oprah.
"I was afraid to live." replied Mark.
Fear is all consuming with chronic illness...he reminds.
We're afraid of the past...going back to the hospital, being bedridden again, re-visiting old symptoms.
We're afraid of the present...having an "attack," not being able to handle an "attack," being misunderstood, being judged, doing too much, not doing enough.
We're afraid of the future...What's going to happen to us? Is there an end to the suffering? Will life ever be somewhat normal again?
Yes. That sums it up exactly.
How do you overcome/alter that experience?
I'll let Mark speak for himself on that one (well worth the few minutes to watch). In the meantime, I hope this helps your pain becomes a little more "right-sized."
I know it did mine.