Thursday, October 27, 2011

School of Hard Knocks

A perfect autumn rose. You would not believe how good it smelled.

Have you ever heard anyone say, "I learned that the easy way." Yeah. Me neither. The truth (my truth) is that wisdom is heard earned and slow to accumulate, but well worth the blood, sweat and tears. Hence if people really lived as I suggested yesterday: knowing their limits, sleeping when tired, eating when hungry, etc. - well - what a boring world this would be.

Part of our mandate while we dwell on this beautiful, dangerous planet, is to, with some regularity, step outside the comfort zone in order to prove ourselves to ourselves, or for the good of others, or just because it was there. If we were to always adhere to our limits, mistakes would NOT be made, and nothing new would come into being except by virtue of natural disasters (small and large). Here's a link to a New York Times article about the art of building character, which is all about failure. Really provocative reading! (The link color is a little hard to see. Click on the words "all about failure.")

In fact I believe strongly that through the alchemies of injury and illness, on several levels we are working through things, locating strength, presence, compassion and power as we persevere and recover.

One of my great teachers used to say that the first step in healing involves disorganizing the pattern of the dis-ease. For deeply entrenched patterns, that might mean a terrible case of the flu or pneumonia, a serious bump on the head, or even worse. I know more than one person who quit smoking during a bout of pneumonia. They couldn't bear to smoke while ill, hence were better prepared never to pick up another cigarette after they recovered. When my sister was diagnosed with leukemia, she dumped her awful boyfriend and went to France, something she had always dreamed of but never seriously pursued. The impact that surgery, chemo and radiation has on the people who suffer with cancer is truly awe-inspiring. People are so much stronger than they might believe.

I'm a great proponent of common sense, taking care, and paying attention to the needs of the body. I also believe that life lived without risk, injury or illness is not possible, nor is it desireable. Just like everything else about health, striking a balance between living sensibly and taking chances is an interesting challenge.

May you live in interesting times! Shalom.