Around this time last year I got the flu.
Over the course of the next two or three months, I got it six more times. The last time I got it, it simply didn’t go away. MY body ached. I couldn’t get out of bed. I had no energy. It took about another three months before I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
The rest of 2011 I cycled in and out of varying degrees and intensities of CFS. Sometimes it overpowered me. Sometimes it simply prowled round me like a homeless dog in a dark alleyway. Even when I felt better I knew it was always close by, and I learnt to stop saying that I’m better, because it was always just a matter of time before I wasn’t.
Still: I am deeply grateful to the illness I created this year.
It made me stop dead in my tracks – something I would never, ever have done under any other circumstances. It allowed me the time and space to really think deeply about my life, and what I’m doing with it.
After many hours of staring blankly at the roof, I figured out that my life is not defined by who I claim to be or what degree I have. My life is not defined by how much money I make or how little I have. The only thing that matters is HOW I LIVE MY LIFE, and this simple realization has allowed me enormous amounts of new freedom.
I think the Dalai Lama says it best:
Kindness always seemed like such a basic thing to me in the past; of course I’m kind! I thought. But really, I wasn’t. My cruelty started with myself. I demanded enormous amounts of publicly visible success from myself. I set completely unobtainable standards for myself. How else would I ever feel useful and valuable without it? I pushed myself, for years. I pushed so hard I almost broke. (And perhaps I did.)
When I became aware of the places where I was being cruel to myself – when I became kinder - I stopped feeling like my job was to change everything, all the time. Acceptance came. Contentment emerged. I slowly started to ALLOW things (including me) to simply be. This small, small thing, completely changed my life.
Instead of always imposing my agenda on the world, I could start to allow the world to just be. I could watch it, study it. Most importantly, I could connect with it.
I think that my readings have changed substantially this year. They are still changing. They have become kinder. They have become more about bringing something to life than about stopping something.
Thank you to everyone who read this blog this year, and came with me on my journey. Thank you for signing up for the emails. Thank you for every comment.
Thank you to my clients, who continue to be my most penetrating teachers. Thank you for allowing me to walk a little way with you, for letting me peer out over your horizons and your valleys. It is a sacred privilege, one I am very grateful for.
May it give you exactly what you require.
May your ancestors bless you and protect you.
PS: I’m on blogging sabbatical for the month of December. I’ll be back at the beginning of January.