In that post back so many months ago, I shared “I am no medical professional nor scientist, but I am a student of metaphor and analogy. I humbly offer that the world is experiencing a “minor stroke”. What are the lessons we must needs learn from same? Here is what I learned and continue to learn about my own “shot across the bow”. That statement remains true for me.
That said, as I reflect back now on both my own stroke in 2015, and my diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes last year, a single thought occurs. I am mindful that we never “go back”. As much as we wish and try and fight, we can never go back to our old habits; and our resistance can cause a return to illness, and even a worsening. My stroke taught me, and yet there was and still is some resistance. My developing Type 2 Diabetes taught me and yet there is still resistance. Neither have been fully accepted. This morn, I realize that, and I realize ever more deeply the power that is Acceptance.
Acceptance is not about defeat. It is about a new starting point. I know that, if I ignore the learnings and needs of both Stroke and Diabetes, both will get worse. I accept that. I know that I can and must adopt new habits and practices that are for my own best good. I accept that. I know that those practices will actually make me stronger and healthier. I accept that. Where is the defeat in that? In many ways, both Stroke and Diabetes have been The Watcher. They have brought me to a space where I have come to reconsider my own definition of freedom; neededly so.
A mentor of mine once said that freedom is not the question nor issue; freedom from what, is. When we talk rights, we rarely talk responsibilities. I have the right to make my own decisions, but there are consequences in making them. If I ignore Stroke and Diabetes and carry on “being me”, I clearly think that “me” is my older habits and I forget the value of the Stroke and Diabetes in getting me to the real and better me. That is the denial and refusal of growth. Freedom to do whatever I want pales in comparison to the freedom that comes from taking better care of me; from honouring my best self. With the former, my health declines. With the latter, I get stronger and more able to do and live my best me.
This is true of the world. The Pandemic is not a singular event. There are plenty of challenges in the world. What can we learn from this Pandemic that might make us healthier going forward?
Here are three of my thoughts. First, we still need to ever better learn that working together globally will be increasingly important. We are ever more and increasingly connected. One little, robust and resourceful virus should be teaching us that. Better coordination and Cooperation is needed.
As well, and second, Cleanliness may indeed be next to Godliness. Seeing masks as menace, seeing regular hygiene as inconvenience; these are to be respectfully but assertively questioned. I personally do not believe in mandates. But I do believe in Courtesy and Responsibility. There are cultures in the world where, if you are sick, you naturally wear a mask. What if the Pandemic could teach us to understand that the masking was never about protecting ourselves, but others… so that we do not play a role in the spread of any contagion?
Thirdly, this time of Pandemic has been “good” for the planet. Our consumption driven world slowed down. What if our consumption was more environmentally grounded? What if we consumed more experience and Service than “stuff”? Economies thrive on the exchange of value, but why must value be so determined by materialism and the buying of stuff? Could the values exchanged be ever more around environmentally friendly “stuff”, including experiences and Service?
I do not have the answers. I do have questions. Why are we so insistent on “back to normal”? What about that “normal” needs shedding and Detachment? What is the apparent addiction to materialism?
Bruce Cockburn once sang “The trouble with normal is that it always gets worse.” What if we questioned normal? What if we moved forward rather than back? What if we did not simply see this Pandemic as something to just get through but saw it as something from which to learn? What if the lessons from these times are necessary for the challenges ahead? What if the lessons needing learning are for building a better future for us all?
Oh yes, we can be free to ignore the Stroke; but at our own peril. For me personally and today, I am realizing the lessons I need to fully accept around my own Stroke and Diabetes, and I will live those lessons for a stronger me and a healthier sense of my own freedom. I pray we all do … as and for the planet. My thought as I finish these thoughts here and now are that it is audacious to accept. And, it is a simple and powerful act of Service, to ourselves and others.
Wishing you PEACE…
“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness. ― Anne Frank
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. ― Abraham Lincoln
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. ― Helen Keller
Knowledge will give you power, but character respect. ― Bruce Lee
Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose-it teaches you about life. ― Billie Jean King
Our ability to handle life’s challenges is a measure of our strength of character. ― Les Brown
People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built. ― Eleanor Roosevelt