Collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper Textures.
This week I was over in my friend Patti's Altered Attic, and I learned about National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. Patti likens the experience of developing one of these chronic illnesses with being thrown from the merry-go-round of "human doing" where life is glittery, fast moving, and we forever chase the brass ring which is always just out of reach. And once you are sitting on the ground you are more or less forced to become a human being, since all the glittery doing becomes nearly impossible. Patti got me thinking about my own experiences with "reality". The Buddha pointed out a very long time ago, that reality comes to all of us in the form of illness, old age, and death. There's no one on this planet that hasn't known these three either personally or of a loved one.
Aside from the medical industry's very bad behavior, a very difficult part of all of this is that our culture places such value on doing and almost no value on being. So while we are on the carousel we are given approval and positive reinforcement for the rather empty experience of chasing the brass ring. The brass ring is something you can't ever reach. You can try, you can get a better job, higher salary, but it will never be enough. I remember this old merry-go-round very well. I didn't much care for it, truth be told.
When I was in my thirty's, my husband developed a fatal illness. I felt as if I'd been thrown from the horse but was still on the carousel. I looked around at all of the striving and I didn't have the heart for it anymore. So I decided to step off and sit in the side lines, and consider where I had been and where I actually was. It seemed to me as I looked around, there was a lot more real life going on in the sidelines, very interesting, real life. And it's in these sidelines that the greatest art and creativity are happening. And like Patti commented there's a tremendous amount of community, friendship, and wonderful humanity here in the sidelines, where the pace is slow enough that you can feel it and enjoy it. For me, the experience of real life, was a heart opening experience. I suddenly had the time for others, I found that without the cloak of denial, you can actually join the human race. It may be heart breaking at times, but it is also a place where we can truly love and learn.
This week on the "Love Bomb: It Starts With Us" website, they (we) picked a girl struggling with Lyme disease, who wrote about her experiences with this invisible chronic illness. The idea was to go visit her blog and leave a "love bomb," a comment that let her know that she was loved. Very sweet idea! So far I see 160 comments of a love bomb type. So if you want to leave Victoria or my friend Patti a comment to let them know they are not alone, that they are human beings deserving of as much love and respect as anyone riding the merry-go-round, and probably more, then please do. It's easy and it makes all the difference in a person's life! Really!