People have often said to me “I don’t know how you cope so well with all that’s happened to you”. I know how – it’s not about ‘coping’. It’s about making the most of the options left available. I’ve found that it helps enormously to try to concentrate on the positives rather than negatives. Having a good sense of humour has it’s benefits too. When used appropriately, humour is a great way to dissolve anxiety. There is always something left to celebrate in life no matter how much sh*t is thrown at you! My own experience of recurrent illness has made me more resilient and I hope, more insightful as well. I’ve learnt how to appreciate many of the simpler pleasures in life – like savouring a mouthful of delicious food or simply being in the company of family and friends. I find I want to grab life with both hands and enjoy. You sometimes hear amazing stories about people who are terminally ill, who insist that they’ve never been happier. I think I’ve discovered their secret!
When someone is hospitalised as an emergency, they have little control over what’s happening to them. Privacy is lost as well as a comfortable bed, nice food, and the company of loved ones. Life is simplified down to basic needs and you are relieved of all the normal demands on your time. Horizons narrow. Your whole world gets narrowed down to what’s happening to you, and around you. Despite the hustle and bustle of the daily routine, life in hospital can prove to be a very lonely experience. Solitude tends to magnify everything – it can be difficult to manage, but it can be liberating too. It’s been my own privilege to discover that this solitude brings with it a sense of tremendous vision. Whenever I’ve been at a low physical ebb, I’ve often found that I can see the world through different eyes. Life becomes ‘black and white’, the grey areas dissappear and I find I have the ability to clearly visualise solutions to problems. It’s magical! As I recover my physical well-being, this clarity of thought gradually fades and I happily let it go in celebration of my return to good health. Sadly, not everyone has this choice or good fortune.
I explained this phenomena to an acquaintance recently and he kindly sent me the words below, which I now treasure.
“When you experience the power of your wisdom and the power of things as they are, together, as one, then you have access to tremendous vision and power in the world. You find that you are inherently connected to your own being. That is discovering magic” (Chögyam Trungpa).