“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.”
― Eckhart Tolle
After several months of fighting to be heard and rarely getting a response I finally lost my voice – literally. A few weeks ago I came down with a throat infection (laryngitis type), caught a second infection at the end of the first round of anti-biotics, followed by a respiratory-type flu bug, and culminating in bronchitis and a sinus infection. So that translates into having no voice for four weeks now amid the never ending coughing fits. One has to consider that there are metaphorical implications around having a sore and severely impaired voice box when one contemplates the barriers I have attempted to vault this year.
After being mostly bed-bound and housebound for four weeks and feeling somewhat sorry for myself, I decided that regardless of my condition and its limitations, I would have to step up and ‘change my mind’ about what was happening to me. Or perhaps what I was allowing to happen to me. In other words, I think I got sick for a reason. Yes, I’ve had some reasonable challenges this year from battling archaic and subversive government systems, to caregiving 24/7, to struggling with some fairly immense economic challenges. Not least, I’ve had to face the fact that I’ve likely been stewing in my own existential crisis after giving up my career last year to put my precious daughter first – a necessary step and one I don’t regret. Unfortunately, when life changes rapidly in tumultuous ways leading us to a new and foreign way of being, the upheaval can sometimes be a bit much depending on our life situation. In my case, I suspect I had to lose my voice in order to regain it. I spend the first seven months of the year speaking out for my rights and feeling as though I was never being heard. Just when I thought nothing would change as a result of my efforts, things changed for the better…and then I got sick.
The thing is – one cannot make changes like this without being human and going through the various processes that such a transition entails and I am no less human than other regardless of training I realized that I could sit around and bemoan the lack of social support in my life, resent the lack of finances, and even resent the limitations that caregiving for an ill loved one imposes on one’s life; however, all this did was to put me into a kind of apathetic, catatonic state at times and I found that my creativity, my motivation, and drive was severely diminished if almost completely gone. I stopped exercising, after going through numerous excuses such as ‘it’s raining,’ or ‘I’m sick,’ or ‘the dog has an injured paw and shouldn’t be walked,’ … and I found my excuses to ‘not’ do things numerous.
This is, I believe, how many people find themselves on the slippery slope to depression. I managed to catch myself luckily before reaching that depth; however, it is understandable that so many of us don’t realize until it’s too late that we are stuck in a rut and are already severely depressed. Yes, granted some of the challenges that I speak of are life events that can send even the strongest person into a tail spin of dark emotion that leads to mind-numbing depression but my point today is not to speak of oppression but how we cope despite oppressive circumstances.
I realized that I would not be sick if my life was not seriously out of balance. By balance I mean that elements of my life were either missing or that I was over-compensating in other areas resulting in an overload/under-load phenomenon that tipped the scales. For example, although my emotional life is currently relatively full in terms of love, my physical life is lacking due to illness. Mentally I had almost shut down in terms of any professional activities or extracurricular pursuits such as writing or similar creative activities I would normally engage in. Spiritually I was lacking also in that I was not meditating or doing yoga or really focusing on meaning and purpose – elements that I believe crucial to having a balanced and meaningful life. And finally, my economical and occupational sphere was sparse. One cannot move forward when one is so unbalanced, yet we cannot wait around for someone else to come and pick us up either. Ultimately, we need to pick ourselves up and start moving forward however we can and hope that eventually we will gain momentum.
Eckhart Tolle suggests that we:
“Find the “narrow gate that leads to life.” It is called the Now. Narrow your life down to this moment. Your life situation may be full of problems – most life situations are – but find out if you have any problem at this moment. Not tomorrow or in ten minutes, but now. (Tolle, Eckhart.,1999, The Power of Now)
This quote makes perfect sense to me. How often are we thinking about how we can fix something that is ‘wrong,’ or worrying about something that might happen in the future, or thinking (resenting) something or someone who has offended us in the past? Life is just so much easier when we engage in the NOW and contemplate each moment as a gift. By gift I mean practicing the art of gratitude for what is going right, right now. When I do this I am immediately lifted up and find that I then have the strength to continue moving forward gently. Small steps are okay and sometimes it is the only way…
So I have begun walking again, at a speed that is comfortable and a distance that is manageable. The fresh moist air and the feeling of the blood moving around in my body has served so far to lift my spirits and rejuvenate my muscles. I have begun meditating again and now I am writing again. Slowly but surely I feel that momentum is possible and that good health and balance is possible once again.
But best of all I have begun to realize all the life lessons I have learned this year; this year of turning points and new beginnings.