A Little Perspective Goes a Long Way

If I could regularly follow my own advice, I could give the Dalai Lama a run for his money. Holiness is, after all, a competition.

Unfortunately, regularly doing anything is not my strong point. Last week I finally stressed myself out to the point of getting sick (remember that report?). On the fifth day, I was well enough to despair over all the lost time and uncompleted tasks and spent some time railing against the injustices of the world. Then a moment of lucidity bubbled up from somewhere: perhaps I was overreacting considering people live with chronic illness and pain.

My friend, we’ll call her Deidre, has MS yet is sincerely and consistently positive. She manages to be grateful for impossible things like dirty diapers, which remind her the baby is more important than whatever she happens to be doing. She enjoys doing the dishes because it gives her meditative time with God. I often want to throttle people who espouse this type of attitude; not many who say it truly mean it.

I suspect Deidre’s genuine gratitude has its roots in her deep acceptance of her own humanity. She once told me wise choices come from making lots of mistakes. She manages to be happy with who she is even though she can no longer take a hot shower, occasionally has to use a walker, and sometimes literally cannot connect to the right word while speaking or reading because her nerves misfire.

You’d think someone in Deidre’s situation would need more than she has the capacity to give, but that’s never been my experience. I always leave our visits enriched, having gained some wisdom to tack on the refrigerator and reread until I’ve reached the maturity level necessary to practice it.

So next time I’m sick for five whole days and have to suffer through my mom bringing me soup and movies, perhaps I can feel a speck less sorry for myself. Take that, Dalai Lama.

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