Sunday, October 22, 2017

Lean In And Listen Closely

While living with the uncertainty of my pending biopsy result, Steve and I decided to immerse ourselves in the mountain air of the Laurentians (technically, the northern extension of the Adirondacks into Canada, an hour and a half north of Montreal). We have a fabulous little place we like to visit on la ”Rivière du Nord,” the North River. We hike on Parc Linéaire Le P'tit Train du Nord, which we step out onto from our front door. We have a waterfall right outside our windows and balcony that keeps putting us to sleep. We've already slept late and napped twice today. 

I love being immersed in the french-speaking ambiance of our friendly North American neighbors. It quiets my own mental chatter. I have been channeling that chatter into writing. Here's a sample:

My friend Terri recently proclaimed, "How grand of your sternum to warn you that something needs attention." It’s true; thanks Terri, for framing it that way. It is totally grand! We so often complain about pain or other signals our body gives us to let us know we need to do something. It’s valuable information and all too often, we act annoyed. I don't have to like it, but pain is a valuable messenger. The pain in my sternum announced that I needed to move up my annual PET scan from December to now, in order to evaluate what's happening and intervene if necessary. If I didn't have the pain, cancer could spread and kill me without any warning. Listening to my pain, at least I have a better chance.

For a previous entry on listening to my bones, check out:

I feel like a grumpy old person when I hear myself start complaining about the way things are “these days,” but I’ll say it anyway. I don’t care if you call me grumpy and old-fashioned! In this fast-paced society people have gotten impatient. People expect their bodies to move at the pace of their smart phones. People expect relief in the time it takes to send a text message. People expect healing to be like a reboot, and require as much time as it takes to push a button and restart. But biological time is slow, and no matter how much society innovates, it takes time and attention for our bodies to heal or adapt.

People think they are entitled to a pain-free life. Sorry, but when you come into the world in a body, pain is part of the deal. Some of it seems like senseless suffering, but most of it is crucial information, broadcasting that something needs attention. Most pain is there for a reason, and if we learn to listen and not just obliterate the message, we might have valuable clues about how to care for ourselves more effectively.

The pursuit of happiness is confused with feeling entitled to happiness itself. We (the privileged people who live in somewhat "free" societies) are not entitled to a perfect life or a pain-free body. What we do have is the privilege of being free to pursue health and wellbeing in many ways, that’s all. Our society grants us access to the process, but doesn’t guarantee the product.

Is there a pain in your life that you haven't committed to listen to deeply? Can you lean in and listen closely? Try it and see what you learn.