Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Count your blessings today. I know that though my life has been different than I planned, it is good. How can it not be good? It is reality. To argue with what is, is insanity.

And how did I start my day? I started it the way I always do. I fed the pups and took them outside. I made my coffee, grabbed an apple, and sat down with my laptop to play some online crosswords. Lately, that is my thing. There is something comforting about the crossword puzzle to me. It is a solitary activity that challenges the mind and jogs the deepest recesses of my memory for things I thought I had forgotten. My favorite site is Web Crosswords. Sometimes I go to the USA Today site, too, but they don't have new puzzles on weekends or holidays. So today I only did one puzzle and it took me about 10 minutes.

Later this morning, Paul will pop the bird in the oven, and we'll start working on the rest of the meal. Stef will be over at about 2 o'clock, and Sean will be home from work around then. The football game will be going on the television, and the dogs will be at my feet, waiting to see if I drop something in the kitchen! (They know me too well!) I'll be sure not to overdo it, though. With the kind of pain I've had the last few days, I'm not sure things are going as expected with my shoulder. It will be next week before I can talk to the doctor again.

I got to thinking the other night about the purpose of pain. After all, when it is chronic pain, it isn't doing what you think pain should do - alert you to an injury or situation that must be fixed immediately (e.g., pulling your hand out of the fire). So if it has no immediate message for you, what is its purpose?

Maybe, I thought, its purpose is to keep us in the moment. The Buddhist principle of mindfulness says that we can find peace (and maybe even enlightenment) by staying with our breath, being in the present, letting everything else go. When I most need to do that, when my pain reaches a 9 or 10 (an extremely upset face on the pain scale), I can't seem to stay in the meditative state, but am I in the present moment? Yes! Of course I am. I am one with the sensation of my pain, as I am supposed to be with my breath. Regardless of if the sensation is bad (pain) or good (breath), it keeps us in the moment.

I began to make friends with my pain. "Thank you," I said aloud, "for showing me the beauty of this moment." This isn't to say that my physical sensations were pleasant or acceptable, but they were real. I stopped arguing with reality. I just let the pain come and go as it would. Of course I still used the medication as prescribed by my doctor, but I stopped fighting the pain. I just let it do what it wanted. Could I have done anything else?

Those life lessons are all around us. We just need to be awake enough and aware enough to see them and take them in.

For now, I must attend to my plans for the day. May peace surround you today, on this lovely day of thanksgiving. Enjoy your family time - or if you are alone, be thankful for the peace in your household. I'll be watching the parade and the football game with you. We'll raise our glass of cider together.

Peace - D

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