The Little Things
I've been slightly remiss of late, neglecting this blog. This happens every so often, when I am either too busy to do any creative projects or writing - or - there really isn't anything worth sharing. I mean, there's always something, I can usually expostulate for quite some time on anything that comes to mind, but this time around I was too depressed. Because of my recent back pain and still being bed-ridden after four weeks. I literally haven't done anything worth writing about, and I've been scared and depressed, and... I just couldn't do it.
But now - I am feeling a tiny bit better. And that my friends, is everything.
When you are down, and I mean really down - either immobilized by pain, or diagnosed with something really serious, or if you've had a life-changing physical or emotional blow - the smallest things mean the world. And that is what you learn - something so simple, it's almost boring. Something so basic that you laugh self-consciously, thinking, "well this isn't very sexy." It isn't the Big Revelation you think you might arrive at after all that suffering, it has no flash - no commercial appeal. It's small. And in it's smallness lies its hugeness. The truth that finally, quietly, almost secretly seeps into you is - that the most important things are the smallest.
Tiny improvements to your health. Baby steps towards liberation from pain, and tiny acts of love. Love that is shown in the smallest of gestures, in the quickest flick of an eye, the tone of a voice. When you're in pain the caring tone of a doctor is love, and it helps. When you're overwhelmed by depression a short facebook message from a friend can crack your heart open with love. Even just when your dog visits you by your bedside, and understanding that you can't stoop down and roll with her on the floor like you used to, moves closer so you can carefully pet her ears - while looking at you with love in her eyes, it's suddenly the most important thing in the world. Love in any form, is a balm.
We all face different versions of the harshness and unpredictability of life. No one really escapes it, it just happens in different ways. But I believe these times are when our spirits grow the most - and perhaps that is even what we are here on this planet to do. To struggle - and to grow. And when else are we going to get to it? When are we going to "schedule in" a spiritual awakening? It just can't be done.
It could be that it is ONLY in these times of difficulty that we can have that critical kind of growth. So in some senses - and Im' stretching here because to be honest I'm not quite ready to embrace this whole hog just yet - these black periods are gifts.
Being face to face with the worst thing - kind of forces you to open up. You have no choice - it becomes a survival situtation and you kind of blindly search around for something to hold on to. Whether it's a loved one's hand, or a cane. A good pillow or a cooling ice pack. A heating pad at your feet - a good bowl of oatmeal - and suddenly those little things are all you can hold on to, and you feel great love for them. This the beginning of healing. Those first feelings of gratitude.
You love being able to turn over without pain. Unbelievably wonderful. You love being able to stand in the sunlight, even for five minutes. You love hearing the bird song outside your window and you think you've maybe never heard anything so beautiful, or anything that just means so much - and you dissolve into grateful tears. You love the oatmeal and blueberries that your husband brings you every morning, even though you have to eat it lying on your back and you drop some of it in your neck, every time - it's delicious and filling and the love that is in it and the energy from the food which is like love too - fills you up.
I am weak and I cry easily. I've been in bed for almost a month, with literally only three positions I can lay in. I have had to lay here day after day, night after night, week after week, trying to get better, trying to keep myself entertained, and from despairing. I've had my emotional ups and downs, I have lost it a couple of times, feeling like I might be dying. Why else would I have this kind of body, one that can't move two inches without excruciating pain?! What kind of life is this?! All the usual desperate circles your mind spins in when you are still fighting against the walls of your condition. Why me? It's apparently a question you do actually ask yourself - I asked it several times, laughing at myself secretly every time for being so cliche. But seriously, why me? But then honestly - why anyone?
So I am changing. My body and my spirit are changing - for the better I hope. I am seeing some improvement this week. I am not in pain all the time now, I am in discomfort, but I'll take it. I can walk a few more steps. That's enough. And I've lost weight, which I needed to do - even though I've also lost muscle mass. :( Pain has a way of killing the appetite, so luckily I haven't been eating my way through the month.
When I do briefly get up I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I look
- Like a witch - my hair is insane. I can only shower every few days, and I can't "do" my hair so it dries naturally and is so curly I can't believe it. I had no idea my hair was this curly! I look like Bernadette Peters! Well, not nearly as cute.
- Fragile - my bones show more, and where I can touch them they are sharp. My shin bone is like a knife edge. Very old lady. Kind of creepy!
- Healthy. This makes me sooo happy. Because I've been eating nothing but oatmeal and berries and drinking green smoothies, with nuts and dried fruit for snacks - my skin is very very clear, my eyes are bright, and my jawline distinct, for once. I don't have that slightly puffy/chubby/adult acne thing going on that I usually do. Small silver linings.
So - I'm literally re-creating myself. Almost from scratch. But hopefully it will be a better version of myself in some ways. Diane 2.0. It's so ironic that only a few blog posts back I thought I was in the thick of it - I thought I'd seen the worst of menopause, and I was ready to take on the world nonetheless. I was ready to launch a new me months ago, despite the crazy hot flashes, night sweats and migraines. Little did I know what was to come. I still had some breaking down to do, evidently. But you do what you can with the hand you're dealt and if I can get out of this place - and survive menopause - I'm really going to be something, huh? Maybe the wisest old lady in the world. But what I really want to do is - to share the things I've learned from this experience with those that need it.
I know there is an entire community out there, hidden at home, suffering in one way or another, watching the days go by. It's amazing how the world can just go on without us - and it's amazing how I never gave a thought to people like this, when I was one of the healthy ones.
But there is hope. There is always a way to find comfort, to find love and joy, in the smallest of small things. And from that I think we improve ourselves, lifting ourselves to another step, another level of goodness - and from there on up, higher and higher until we can be an example to others.
I'm leaving a video here for you to enjoy - this is a slightly different thing but it's the same in that this child - nine years old - understands how important the small things are, and has somehow already made it his mission in life to help others. Simply by listening to them, and offering heart-felt advice he is showing them compassion, which is a lesson in itself. He's showing that someone really cares. As he puts it in the video - maybe even seeing the stand will change the way others feel about things, and each other.
So on this Memorial Day we can remember the loved ones we've lost, the ones that we still have with us, and the love we have for ourselves, no matter what state we're in. Because we are here, and we can be here for each other.