Illness is not solely suffering; it is also much like the Hangman of Tarot – a forced change of perspective. There is a certain smugness that accompanies health: an attitude, reckless really, that says “I’ve got it all together. Look at me.”
Those of us, having fallen from health, recognize the fallacy. Life is uncertainty. And change. And loss. There is no promised land, and that is not all bad.
Having studied dream work for over thirty years now, I am able to say with confidence that nightmares are gifts from the self – cracking open the shell of complacency and inciting transformation. Life events, like bad dreams, offer us the same opportunity.
It is comforting, and rewarding to settle into society’s expectations: graduating, securing a job, buying a house, starting a family. While these may be markers of success, they are also limited in their capacity to fulfill us. The soul desires more.
While it is difficult to articulate what that ‘more’ might be for any given individual, think of self as the iceberg – what is displayed above the surface is only a portion of what lies beneath. There are depths that merit exploration.
My disease (M.E.) attacked every part of me, including that which I took for granted: my ability to walk, talk, think, and even breathe. It was difficult, in the beginning years, to recognize the gift in such a debilitating experience, however; blessings have ensued. From a place of immobilization, I am learning to stretch. Stretching, I am discovering, is the secret to accessing the inner depths.
For the month of April, I reached beyond what I perceived as my limitations, and signed on for NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Write Month), which challenges the participants to write a poem a day, based on prompts. In addition to the prompts (which are more like exercises than one word motivators) the site offers readings and links to other poet’s work in order to inspire growth. Although I try to write everyday, I do so within my own comfort level: I like to write my posts in advance, ensuring that if I have a bad day, I am covered. I also follow set protocols for writing – more superstitious than efficient. So to heed someone else’s bidding and begin each day without a clue as to what will transpire felt far too stressful on first consideration. I did it anyway. I stretched my creative muscles.
Boy, does it feel good. Not only am I learning a lot about writing; I am expanding my craft, and taking risks I might not have taken before.
No matter where we are in life, no matter how old, poor, or incapacitated, there is more to explore.
Have you stretched yourself lately? What did you uncover in the process? I’d love to hear about it.
To see the results of my stretching, visit me at One Woman’s Quest, and read April’s entries.