Friday, February 13, 2015

Enduring vs Thriving

There is a vast and sometimes what feels like an insurmountable difference between the two.  According to Google:

  1. 1.
    suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently.
    "it seemed impossible that anyone could endure such pain"
  2. 2.
    remain in existence; last.
    "these cities have endured through time"
    1.  (of a child, animal, or plant) grow or develop well or vigorously.          "the new baby thrived"    2.  prosper; flourish.         "education groups thrive on organization"

As a chronic chick, I definitely endure daily the slings and arrows of my illness.  So far I still "remain in existence" and often "suffer patiently".  However, on my better days I also thrive.  I flourish and prosper and grow and develop.  I guess it is a matter of perspective and a new definition of success.  

I am so glad I studied Buddhism under a nun for several years prior to becoming ill.  I think it has been my bridge between just enduring and actually thriving as a chronic chick.   In Buddhism it is believed that the basis for all suffering is grasping/wanting.  As a Buddhist, I try not to grasp at things.  It can be something as simple as wanting a new bathing suit that I can't afford and won't use anyway to desperately wanting to get better.  I constantly remind myself that all things change and all things are impermanent.  All of my things will be gone in years, decades or centuries hence.  All turned to dust.  And I am just as impermanent as my things.  My body will leave this earth at some point and will become dust.  While my body feeds the worms my spirit will be reincarnated into another body and my lessons will continue.  

I think this is why I can thrive as a chronic chick.  I'm not dependant upon my body working for me to prosper and flourish.  Instead of trying to accumulate wealth/status/influence, I'm happy to feel wind in my hair and sun on my face.  Hey I managed to toddle out onto my deck today to enjoy the sunshine!  To bask in the glory of nature!  Hey I managed to answer someone's question on Facebook who is also struggling with chronic illness.  Now they are happy since they know they aren't alone and they have someone else they can add to their support team.  My definitions of success are making someone else happy, lightening someone else's burden, managing to get out into nature, enjoying sun and wind and rain and snow, noticing and taking pleasure in the minutia of life, learning the names of bugs and plants and trees, managing to read a science paper, learning something new.

Without my Buddhist perspective, I would more than likely be stuck enduring this illness but instead I find that I'm often thriving despite it.  I see it all the time on blogs "I am not my illness".  I think this is what is meant by that.  Once you stop grasping at the life that you once had or grasping for a fully functioning body, you can thrive instead of endure chronic illness. I consider my body a blessing, even if it is broken.  We are lucky to be born into this world and wander this earth for a short time before reuniting with the stardust once again.

White Tara
Female Buddha of Healing

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