Many emotions and lessons appear as we face a life of health challenges, but wisdom, that’s one that comes with great patience and learning. You have to find it as surely as you stumble onto a coin on the sidewalk. You can’t really seek wisdom because it has to find you. It comes out of experience and those experiences can be pretty gruesome. Anyone who has been presented with chronic pain can testify to that.
Many feelings come easily such as anger, frustration, self-pity and exhaustion. Wisdom is one you can’t dig to find and it isn’t always readily available. It is however, the one that brings peace to those of us who suffer. Strangely enough, wisdom often must be accompanied by humor as well as an altered sense of perspective. When we regain our sense of humor after initially losing it, then our hearts and minds are ready for wisdom. I realize they are an interesting pair but you will find them, invariably, together. When you and I regain the ability to laugh at ourselves, well, there it is; our viewpoint changes.
I’ve observed so many individuals who experience chronic pain and grow bitter. This includes me, of course. It is tragic to see because it not only makes the owner of the bitterness angry and remote because it builds a wall between them and others but it also cuts off all chance for emotional healing. No one knows for certain how it affects physical healing but many believe the more positive outlook brings about a more rapid recovery. Are cells, healing and pain affected by attitude? Yes, perhaps they are. I do know anger can certainly make the time crawl by more slowly and time, after all, is life. A crabby, unpleasant attitude makes the day seem a bit longer than a day of pleasurable activity. How does that work, I wonder?
It’s tragic how these individuals are kept from wisdom by bitterness. I find it intriguing they receive no comfort from their bitterness and seek escape from it and themselves through over medicating themselves, excessive drinking or just making life miserable for some other individuals. I suppose it’s natural for us to share our misery in an effort to gain sympathy but it only makes our misery greater. Strange how that works because giving it away to another only triples our own misery. It’s sort of like sharing messy, sticky hands. You only make the situation worse as you spread the odor, the sliminess and the misery.
It is a secret difficult to find how one avoids bitterness, anger and discovers that rare gift of wisdom. I do believe it begins with understanding and acceptance. All those questions that come to mind such as “Why?”, “Why me?” and “Why not them?” have to be tossed out of the conversation. There are no answers to those questions. No, you didn’t do anything to bring this about unless you did something obvious, but that’s not too likely. You are just there. It happened or was hidden in your DNA and that is that. It is the “now” you and I have to deal with and that’s the only answer to it. If you see someone you think is more deserving of this trouble, then you’re operating from a position of thinking all pain is punishment. What is this, an old Russian novel like Crime and Punishment? I don’t think that’s how it works. We also find longing for that which is lost is great for the grieving process as a necessary step but has its place. Longing, grief and regret all have their place and are great for a visit, but you don’t want to live there.
There are many other questions which offer hope, acceptance and eventually, wisdom. We can ask ourselves, “What can I do to feel better?”
“What is my role in my own life?”
“Where do I go from here?”
Lastly we can ask and answer, “Do I still have value?”
These answers are often direly complex but need to be well integrated into our personalities and individual situations. What works for me might not work for you and that’s where our own personal knowledge needs to meet the knowledge and information we receive from our health care providers. Some doctors are better than others on personal advice and guidance. Others are like dispensing machines where you put in your dollar and get your reward. I prefer the ones who care, who know what they’re talking about and follow through while treating you as a fellow individual human. There are others who are all technical knowledge and they serve their purpose although they aren’t as loveable.
Many of us who live with chronic disease and pain choose to have a primary care physician who co-ordinates all the specialists who are involved in our care. This is my personal approach and it works well, especially when the PCP has less ego and knows his or her own limits and isn’t afraid to transfer your care for various problems. Specialists are wonderful and necessary in today’s medical field but unfortunately or not, we are complex individuals who often need more than one specialist.
I find many of us often want the answers but don’t want to follow through on the solutions. It sort of tests our sincerity, does it not? There have been more times than I can count when I have had to kick myself in the tush to do some exercise, stretch or other activity. It’s a difficult position and can be quite humorous to watch but is hardly helpful unless I respond to that wee small voice inside which knows the truth and is too lazy or lackadaisical to follow through. That simple truth is that strength comes from activity. When we know what we need to do and don’t, we make it more difficult to complain, don’t we? I know from firsthand experience it can be difficult to get out of that groove, especially when we feel lousy. Sometimes, that position we’re in can begin to feel like home yet it is not and the view from there stinks.
Perhaps, winning wisdom begins when we ask ourselves and our physicians, “So what can I do to make myself feel better?” We might surprise a doctor or two in the process. I suspect they grow tired of always being expected to be magicians in our lives, don’t you?
We win wisdom when we take back our own lives and learn to live within the limits we have been given and do it with a grateful heart, an open mind and the desire to still be of use in this world.