Friday, November 14, 2008

Slow in a Fast Paced World

Almost two decades ago now, a very special physical therapist imparted some words to me that I’ve not forgotten. In his strong, booming voice he’d repeat, "Listen to your body baby!" Those were wise words from a man with a kind heart and a great sense of humor. He had a way of invoking laughter in a room filled with all sorts of pain. Here I am today, still reading my body’s symptoms like a book and readjusting life, my pace, and my world as I go along. I’m reminded of Tony and also my daughter’s favorite Aesop fable "The Tortoise and the Hare," with it’s moral: "Slow and Steady wins the race."

I feel like that tortoise step by step as I try to plod along and I have found I don’t need to win the race so much as just get through it in a manner that would be pleasing to God. I’m not the same person in a lot of ways, as I can’t be the same wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt or friend. Frustration rears it’s ugly head as I long to be relationally consistent. I can’t go back to who I was; I am not there but I am here in the present with the Light to guide my way.

I no longer feel that I am missing out too much, but rather find I oddly cannot relate to those who report about long shopping trips, frequent vacations, menus at restaurants and all those "normal" activities in life. For instance, I’ve been in a restaurant only once in the past 3 years and it was a disaster. Now I’m finding the joy in just the ability to eat slowly, swallow simple foods at home and when I hit on some I do not react to with allergy or intolerance it is an absolute delight. Spinach, folks, is an absolute delight, okay? So is creamy buckwheat, quinoa and veggie burgers are a huge bonus on a really good day. So much is unfamiliar that in some ways I must seem a stranger to those who carry on. I have to admit that there are times it is really lonely in a room full of people who do not play water, food and medication games all day long to control pain. I miss my spontaneous ways that used to bubble up inside me, but life does not stop here; it moves forward and so must I. So I must adjust to hearing about normal life and I hope if you are reading this you will understand I will get there in time so don't stop sharing your world with me--perhaps just tone down the descriptions of chocolate and fine wine!

Being slow in a fast paced world can be limiting but also gives the availability to open wide other avenues of experience. Ones that those fast lane movers may miss. I’m finding more of my desires in areas I never explored or just haven’t had the time to in years. I suddenly realize life is short and to my surprise I have some opinions on the way I’d like to spend it. I’ve kicked off my high heels for boots, levis, mineral makeup and thrown out the hair dye and fragrance. Life is simpler and more authentic. I’m enjoying textures and tastes on a heightened level, I am noticing the smallest fingerprints of God in the most surprising places that I overlooked before. He’s in that breeze in my hair, that glance out my window at my children when they don’t know I’m watching, that sunset over Mr.Jonston’s field that I affectionately call my own. He is in the change of the seasons that swells my heart and causes me to praise him and am filled with adoration to see the reflections of trees and light dance across the pond. I see His faithfulness to my family in the old photos I just began to be able to look at again. He is in my bills paid, that night sky that beckons me to my window and in that hand I reach over lightly to hold each night as I drift off to sleep. His provision is more evident to me.

So, I’m no longer that Hare and I’m on a journey of learning to let go, to throw off the frantic pace and unrealistic momentum so that I might just finish my given race in a manner worthy of the calling, the measure of truth bestowed unto me. I can’t pretend anymore to be someone I am not and that part is very new to me. Many a day needs in a family are so abundant I forget to pace myself, I strive to hard and then suddenly within me I know that it’s coming–that familiar welling up inside of me and I brim, I spill over with tears. Even in them I have to feel the wetness on my face and be grateful for it as I don’t generally have a sufficient supply of them due to my disease and a good cry without real tears is simply not as satisfying. These depths of emotions that come and go are deeper and serve as a reminder that I am quite alive each day and there is life beyond each diagnosis.

It’s a balancing act and many days I am aware of my failures, my pain. Then a new day dawns. My bedroom is illumined in sunlight and as I open my eyes up after a night full of tears, I can laugh again that I am really given another day. One more day to just be me; to be transformed, to breathe, and quiet my body, mind and soul and just reach my arms out as a child to the One who reminds me of the real moral to the story in this life. I take hold of what’s given, release the rest and run at my own pace.

".....let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
Hebrews 12:1


Heather said...

You are such an inspiration!

Farrah said...

I'm so glad you stopped by! :-)

How well I can relate to much of what you have written. The part about heightened senses, I experienced that too! Hot showers seemed to provide some relief, and I remember noticing how it looked with the water running through my hair. It's something I never would have paid attention to before. And how thankful I was if I got even two hours of sleep.

God has blessed me with a break over the last year. I didn't take any meds the first six years of my illness and was at death's door when I started a year ago. They have been very effective. It's hard not to worry about the future, about where I might be in a year or 10 years from now. All I can do is put my trust in a loving and merciful God. :-)

Serena said...

Thank you Jan Lyn, that's beautiful!

Marsha said...

You said it so well! Couldn't say it better! I'm right there with you sister!
I can't write long...been sick for 8 days and my body is talking to me right's saying I better go to bed before I can't get myself there on my own!
The advice my physical therapist gave me is "You've got to pace yourself!"

Jan Lyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jan Lyn said...

Thanks ladies....
Farrah, the shower deal is so familiar to me. When I was so low weight at 89 lbs. taking a shower frightened me to see. Now I am 115, thank God and how I am in awe of the soapy warm water and a more healthy body. It's definately not some thing I'll ever take for granted again. Huge struggle...but progress!Whomever quoted "I stand in awe of my body" I always thought was odd. (Was it Thoreau?!?) Now not so odd any more as it's a sign of life from what felt like death. Praising God.

Marsha...sounds as if your PT was good too. Some people touch our lives and can never be forgotten. Mine was one of them.....huge man with even bigger heart.

Nice to see you Heather and Serena! Once again....I just talk, not