Years ago, I read a cartoon featuring a lovable, philosophical lizard, Pogo. With open arms to the sky, he pronounced, “We are faced with insurmountable opportunities.” I remember saying “Wow!” This word play had a deep meaning for me then, and the lesson that began so many years ago continues today.
How I interpreted this caption was that when I have challenges, I have tended to focus on the negative. My thought was always, “How can I overcome the challenge, get over it, eliminate it, and move on?” Rarely, if ever, did I see that challenges were opportunities, forgetting I can learn, grow, and gain insight and awareness from them.
Occasionally, I read or hear about people who have life changing challenges, and by “paying attention,” as Foghorn Leghorn would say, have made those challenges opportunities for growth. Listening to people share those experiences is wonderful, but I have learned while it is great to have people like Richard Rohr, Parker Palmer and Howard Hanger show me the way, this journey is my own.
Since February, my experience with lower back problems required and resulted in major surgery in early June to get my back corrected so I would be able to do the things I hoped would return – gardening, hiking, playing tennis, and just being active. In this process, I have had epiphanies such as:
While this is my journey, there are many people out there who want to help, and I am doing them and me a service by including them.
I must give up control. That is not easy for such a “control freak,” but it is the only way to move forward. There is no way I can do it all, and giving up control has actually been freeing>
When I give up control, I need to allow others to do it “their” way. I’m a picky person, but I am learning when people offer help, it is best to step back and, with only the minimum guidance, be thankful for their efforts.
There is value to pain and discomfort if only to make me aware of the gift of good health. I no longer take my health (and the health of others around me) for granted.
I got to meet and interact with people in a deeper way. Inertia and routine are incredibly powerful forces, and there is a comfort in just following that order, but that order can be superficial. I have had many wonderful conversations with people who were initially acquaintances, but that I now consider dear friends.
My family and community are the foundation for all I am. I have always thought that independence was so important in being “successful,” but I am learning the people around me, who care for me, step forward to help often when not even asked, come to visit at the hospital and at my home, provide healthy meals, offer to do chores, offer a kind email or Facebook posting – all of that has inspired me and is making me healthy, in mind, body and soul.
So to my Jubilee! Community, from the “Jew who puts the Ju in Jubilee!” as Howard says, thank you so much for being there for me and for my family. Onward to health.