Most of us have seen the TOY STORY animated films and know those dear characters come alive when humans are not around. They talk, skip, fight and basically behave as who they are. Instead of being a stuffed, mechanical or dismembered toy, on the floor, on a shelf or stuffed willy-nilly into an old toy box, they’re ALIVE. So what if we do live with chronic pain? We may be temporarily lost but we’re alive.
I often feel like one of those toys and want to shout, “You Hoo! I’m still alive in here!”
I know many of you share my feelings that we are in the lost and found department, voiceless, unidentified and without purpose. As those humorous yet dear toys from those films have shown us, anything is possible. Just because we’re maimed, sick, older or in some other way changed, doesn’t mean we need to rot away in the lonely box of some lost and found department of life. We need not let ourselves be discarded, only put into a new place or role.
I often have to remind myself I still have value, purpose and a reason to be alive. Today, I would like to share a few of my lessons learned from this different way of living; different than it once was and different than many other folks in this world.
A missing piece or part has to be prioritized. If it’s an extremity, it’s darn irritating and may hurt but it doesn’t deserve the same grief work as a missing heart, brain, or courage. You can have heart trouble or you can be heartless and cold hearted. There is a huge difference. You can have brain trouble, cognitive difficulties, etc. but that’s different than being thoughtless. Any injury, painful part or battle you fight needs to be examined objectively. After you’ve prioritized, you’ll realize you can’t be upset over everything, all the time, or do you want to be?
One has to accept it is lonely in the lost and found department. You and I are left out of the invitations, celebrations and trips. If we do go, we don’t perform as we once did, if at all. There is a good chance we are uncomfortable while we should be enjoying ourselves and others. Again, the balance has to be sought and determined. If it’s important and you go to this activity and moan and groan, that’s not good. If you attend and are sick, in pain or vomiting all the next day, was it worth it? If you broke down and wept after the event or worse yet, during the event, that’s probably the answer you seek for the next time. Oh yes, if you or I behave in some foreboding manner by behaving badly toward others or performed the role of Joan of Arc, again, more thought is needed. If your joy in attending outweighed your misery during or afterward, then it’s probably a good thing. If you attended for someone else’s pleasure, that can be okay, too, if you made the decision with all the knowledge available to you. Did it bring you deep pleasure and joy?
I have often found when something is lost, something else is usually found. It’s the idea of gifts of exchange. Life often requires us to exchange one experience, talent or favorite activity or even job in order to find another. If you were once good at one thing; you can be good at something else. If you’ve never been good at anything, always hated everybody, always felt defeated, well, good luck. You’re apparently still the same old you, don’t you think?
That reminds me that we must have hope here in the good old lost and found department. We have to hope we can replace what is lost by finding something else. It’s only the query, the uncertainty and the emotion of fear that threatens us. Hope can take care of all of those empty spots we feel deep within, just keep believing an answer is being formed and developed and will arrive when it should. When you dig a hole at the edge of the sea, does not the ocean with its millions of waves eventually fill it?
It helps when you have lost, are lost and are seeking new ways to live, to realize others are in that search with you. Become part of something larger than yourself. Can you do that? I have found it helps enormously. Want to try it?
Don’t forget the importance of silliness and laughter. A gray day can become sunny with just one sound of laughter. I find the older and more ill I become, the sillier I get. Oh dear…is that possible? If it brings you joy and is legal and doesn’t hurt someone else…do it. Last week I told all of you about my Valentine tree which is replacing our Christmas tree. My grandchildren love it and are enjoying it tremendously. During these dark, damp winter months it offers light and pleasure and yes, a wee bit of laughter. When shopping the other day in the lingerie department at our local J.C. Penney’s, I spotted a table full of lacy Valentine undies. I had to buy a pair, not for me but for my Valentine tree. It was a whim and it has brought humor to me and to some members of my family. The panties fit right into the theme of the tree in all of their lacy, dotted pink and red glory, hanging on a red satin hangar. Have you a silly impulse or whim? What are you going to do about it? When her children showed their mother, my daughter this new addition to the tree, she asked very complacently, “Are they yours or Pop’s?”
The Valentine tree reminds me of one of the reasons we are here, whole or compromised and that is to make memories for ourselves and others. My grandchildren will never forget when Nana decorated the tree for this dark Valentine’s season. All of life is making memories for someone; either ourselves or someone else. Be whatever you want to be while you are in this state of being but never, oh please, never be boring. What’s fun about that?
Plan to be surprised. Some of the surprises I am facing are not surprise party fun but by informing myself through reading I was a bit more informed. One of the surprises which surprise me as I deal with my own surprises is that so many other humans out there expected to leave this world intact. Probably want to read that again…I’m sorry. It was a bit confusing but I must admit surprise when an 80 year old person complains when something goes awry with their health. I think it’s wise to squeeze that tube until it’s empty, use it all up and live right up until the end. Do what you want to do in any way you are capable of doing it. When someone advises you not to do something and you want to, or they ask you why you are doing something, just tell them, “Because I can.” Politicians get away with that kind of thinking all the time, don’t they?
While you and I are daily looking for what we have lost and finding new parts of ourselves, we will have advocates and we will have enemies. Unfortunately, some of them come from two specific categories which are relatives and medical personnel. We each have to be wise enough to know which types are which and do something about it. Try not to allow either one to push you around. Will you learn to glean out the good from the bad?
Remember there are many ways to be lost. We’re faced with it each day in many forms and not always in us. A very drunk lady hit a telephone pole in front of our house the other night. She is lost indeed and has been lost for a long time. (Physically, she is fine after the accident.) Lost children fill our milk cartons and Facebook pages each day and that’s a special kind of sorrow, although most are stolen by one or other of the parents, it is still a scary prospect. We can be lost in so many ways and we speak of losing one’s health. Many other parts of life can be lost. Friendships, loves, other types of relationships can be sacrificed on the altar of failing health. Understanding must be there for us to continue and it often is not.
To be found can be the ultimate joy as we are presented to old friends, new friends, new vocations and undiscovered talents. Finding our way home is always a fine thing, don’t you think? No, it is indeed never boring here in the good old lost and found department.