The past couple of weeks have been difficult for me. Any time my medications are adjusted, I go through a period of discomfort. Sometimes the discomfort is short lived, and sometimes it just seems to linger on and on. I've been on steroids for over a year now. Our hope was to discontinue the steroids once I added the oral chemotherapy, but it didn't exactly work that way. For one, my symptoms got a bit worse instead of better. And two, because of the long time steroid use, my adrenal system forgot how to work. Since cortisol (the steroid produced by the adrenal glands) is necessary for one's body to function properly, I had no choice but to stay on...until. Until recently, when my new rheumatologist and I decided to try and ween me off EVER so slowly - decreasing the dosage by 1mg every two weeks. The idea being that my adrenal system would gradually start to remember what it's job is. But not without a certain amount of discomfort for me! So the past two weeks have been ones of low grade fevers, fatigue, headaches, intestinal problems, hair loss, muscle and joint pain and a very, very stiff neck and back. All things I am quite familiar with, but have enjoyed a bit of a reprieve from over the last six months or so.
I've struggled with what to write during this time. It's not that I haven't wanted to write, it's more that I felt like I couldn't write. You see, I fell into some old thinking these past days. My desire to be truthful about how I was feeling, was quickly matched by my ego's desire to remain positive and uplifting. There are so many struggling people in the world. I want to help them, not bring them down or make them worry. For the most part, I know who you are. Those faithful readers. My friends, my family. I know that you have lost loved ones, you have suffered your own illnesses, you have children that are sick. I've watched your journeys, too. I've witnessed your struggles, your pain and wept tears when your road has seemed endless. How trite, how selfish it seemed to use this space to do anything but bring words of comfort.
How many of you do the same thing? Construct an image of who we think we are in our minds, only to fall short of that image time and time again? We use images and experiences of our past, build them up with images of what we hope ourselves to be in the future, and create identities that are impossible to attain. It's human nature to create nothing less than perfect in our minds. A perfect construction of something that does not even exist. Yet, we will forfeit the present moment to the insatiable desire to uphold that image. Who we think we are. I am Mother, I am Daughter, I am Wife, I am Friend, I am Artist, I'm am Writer, I am Runner, I am Spiritual, I am Professional, I am Nature Lover, I am Healthy Eater, I am Organic, I am Positive, I am Young For My Age, I am Strong Willed, I am Smart, I am Hard Worker, I am Housekeeper, I am Cook, I am Funny, I am.....
When I give life to these identities, I become the ghost of an image that exists in one place only, and that is in my mind. Forgetting that who I am is found not in my mind, but in the reality of now.
Jesus teaches this to us very clearly. To say that Christ was or will be is a contradiction in terms. Jesus realized his divine presence, his true nature when he said, "Before Abraham was, I am." He did not say, "I already existed before Abraham was born." That would have put him in the constructs of time and identity. Jesus speaks directly, not through discursive speech, the meaning of presence, of self realization. God's self-definition is also the same. He does not say that he was this in the past and will be come this in the future. God says, "I am that I am." No past, no future.....just I am.
By letting go of our own "image", our attachment to "time", there is no good or bad way to "be". We just are! And what my ego-centered mind fails to understand, is that Life is in the Now. Eternal, time-less Life, is found in this moment. Not in what I think I should be.
So, today I will listen to the wisdom of another enlightened one. The Buddha says that when pain and suffering come to visit, place them in your hands and smile at them, saying, "Hello suffering, today I will take good care of you." Fully embracing what is. And by doing so, by being honest with what is in this very moment, life is transformed. Peace resides.