access to gratitude on a daily basis

I heard a fellow a while back talking about what it is like to “be in his head” all the time. He said he kept busy in order to feel less discomfort and to distract himself. But then he said that was no real solution, as it ran him the risk of “being a human Doing instead of a human being.”

I knew what he meant. I think many if not most of us end up in that place. To that end, Fatigue is a great teacher. I can rail against it, analyze it, complain about it, tell you stories about it, take drugs for it, go see specialists about it, but in the end Fatigue continues and continues (well, in this case) until I finally, like a cornered rat, say You’ve Won, you got me. And even after a bit it is no longer a battle but a peaceable co-existence. I am no longer even interested in rehearsing my own Fatigue / Illness story (pretending I am special as if all human beings aren’t subject to illness and aging!) – I merely become curious, finally, I am ready to be teachable. In its way the Fatigue becomes beautiful because it exists, inexorable and mute and of a quality impossible to articulate, it is patient and waits for me to learn when I am ready to learn.

Fatigue remains mute and keeps company, bright-eyed and calm and loving and needing nothing, while other chapters in my life change before my eyes. My children grow more independent and find their own places in the world. I am still pretending as if our lives together haven’t changed, pretending all I’d have to do is round these children up and they’d spend the day with me all day on errands, even though it has been a very long time since that was a regular part of our lives. I am still pretending I am needed in the way I used to be needed. Even as I write here I know I am no longer really pretending, I am instead saying the words Aloud and getting used to the changes life brings. “I am learning to tolerate life’s changes” – instead of, “I can’t tolerate life’s changes.” This helps me a great deal.

Now I know that there is nothing I can do to stop or start anything in particular, things have changed. I rely entirely on my faith, on helping others when I can, and on expressing a simple and profound gratitude. In moments of conversation I can be animated and talkative, as stories flow through me and, I hope, help others. When I am quiet, though (which I wish were more often!) I have become “the wooden puppet and the iron man”. I give the gift of No Fear. I no longer look for the point in my suffering or that of others because I cannot understand it, I merely respect it a great deal.

I ask my daughter, “Did anything special happen for you today?” She says, “Not really.” Then: “Just my mama is still living and still alive.”

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