Quote of the day: “I’ve spent many years learning how to fix life, only to discover at the end of the day that life is not broken. There is a hidden seed of greater wholeness in everyone and everything. We serve life best when we water it and befriend it. When we listen before we act.” — Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. in My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging
Yesterday I went for a walk in my beloved woods. It was so magical and beautiful. Being there fed my soul. I would have liked to have walked there all day. As it was, even though I walked for less than an hour, I knew I was probably walking too much. I’ve had some severe pain issues for a couple of months and walking for any distance seems to make it worse. But I wanted to spend some time in the woods before all the leaves had fallen. And I’m glad I went even though today I am paying a high price for my lovely walk yesterday.
I have been reading a marvelous book by Rachel Naomi Remen called My Grandfather’s Blessings. Dr. Remen is an M.D. who has been counseling those with chronic and terminal illness for more than twenty years. As someone who has lived with chronic disease for her entire adult life, she brings her own personal experience and deep wisdom as well as her professional experience to her writing.
I have also lived with chronic pain and limitations for most of my adult life. I found her words comforting and inspiring. For more years than I can count I have tried to fix my health problems. And lived wishing to be able to do things that I probably will never be able to do. It is not likely that I will ever become a world traveler or be able to go all of the places I would like to go or do the things I would like to do.
As someone who loves photography, especially nature photography, it’s easy to get frustrated and angry or feel sad and hopeless about my limitations. And sometimes I do. The deepest parts of life seem to me to always carry paradox within them. How do I honor my passion for photography and at the same time accept my limitations? What is the difference between acceptance of what is, and giving up? It often feels like I am living a zen koan. All I can do is “live the question” and read the wise words of someone like Rachel Naomi Remen to help me understand that I’m not broken; I don’t need to be fixed. As Leonard Cohen says
“Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in”
I don’t know how this photography gig is going to work with my physical limitations. I don’t think I get to know. I just walk one day at a time accepting what is, doing what I can, and being grateful for all of life’s blessings. I hope I can befriend life and if I’m lucky make a difference for someone sometime.
One more quote from Rachel Naomi Remen: “In befriending life, we do not make things happen according to our own design. We uncover something that is already happening in us and around us and create conditions to enable it. Everything is moving toward its place of wholeness. Befriending life requires that we listen for that potential which is trying to actualize itself over time. It will be there whether we are listening to a tree, a person, an organization, or a society. It is struggling against odds. Everything has a deep dream of itself and its fulfillment.”
What is your deep dream of yourself?