Monday, January 30, 2012

WHAT? DON'T Carpe Diem?

                                                                                                                                                          David Ralph Johnson

I recently received a “shared” link on facebook from a good friend. It was an article written by a guest blogger in The Huffington Post entitled, Don’t Carpe Diem. The writer, Glennon Melton, writes about her journey through parenthood in her blog, Momastery. She’s an excellent writer – humorous, creative, smart and brutally honest. The article shared was about the realities of raising children and how to her, most days are like climbing Mt. Everest, 
May 2000, the "all at home" years
“Brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard there's magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it's hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.”

She begins her writing by describing the frustration she experiences when well meaning people tell her to, “Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast.” She states that everywhere she goes, someone is telling her to seize the moment, raise her awareness, be happy, enjoy every second, ect, etc, etc. She then makes this comment, “Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong.”

When I read this comment I became instantly defensive. I could barely get through the article; it had drummed up so much energy within me. In fact, when I responded to my friend, I regarded the author as a “he” because in my “burst of emotion” I misread the name “Glennon” as “Glenn” and made the incorrect assumption that the writer was a male. It was not until I released that energy in an almost instantaneous retort, that I took the time to actually slow down and read the article. Last week on my facebook page I made the comment, “There’s an open space, before each decision that we make, that we seldom take time to reside in.” Man, I flew through that open space at the speed of light! Open space? What Open space?

So, why all the energy? Writing One Moment One Life is a difficult balance for me. I’ve spoken about this before, but it’s an issue that accompanies me each and every time I type at this keyboard. It’s an issue that sits on my shoulder each time I try to comfort my mother as she deals with the aftermath of stroke and the ongoing struggle with autoimmune disease. It hangs on the phone with me as I try to bring some sort of hope into my grandmother’s day as she sits in isolation in her room at the nursing home trying with all she has to rid herself of a life threatening bacteria. It’s a reality that looks back at me in the mirror as I try to muster up what it takes to keep a household running smoothly in the body and mind of a mom who is constantly sick.

The issue is this: How do I share the gift of what it means to live in the present moment with integrity? To share it in a way in which it gives affirmation or validation to the depth of our suffering, yet reveals a viable pathway to hope and happiness in spite of our pain. How do I do this without making less of our suffering or without playing the victim or without looking as if I were living “in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy”? Back and forth I go. A moment by moment dance of discernment.

Maybe I don’t share enough of the bad days. Heaven knows, I have enough of them. I do know that it’s more typical for me to muster through my bad days, figure them out and then write to you of my “journey to enlightenment”! I’ve attempted the opposite. I’ve sat down in the middle of my suffering and blasted away at the keyboard until it’s soaked in tears and I’m worried about being electrocuted. Most of those writings end up in some file on my computer never to be seen again. Or, there’s the opposite issue. As example, I took a peek this morning at the pages I have “Liked” on my facebook page associated with One Moment One Life. Here’s a sampling of the list:

· Enlightenment 
· Heal You Life 
· Mindfulness 
· 30-Days To Raise Your Vibration 
· 1000000 Aspirations 
· Live Good 
· Daily Good 
· Living In The Now 
· Be Happy 
· Good Morning It’s A Great Day 
· All Things Positivity 
· A Positive Journey 
· Always Wish Good and Think Positive 
· The Kindness Center 
· Living In Gratitude 

I’m kind of embarrassed. Yet, do I really want to subscribe to “It’s A Horrible Life” or “Misery Loves Company”…if they even exist. The idea is to fill my day with things that direct me toward a life of less suffering, right? 

If I were to have the opportunity to talk to the women that wrote the article, Don’t Carpe Diem , this is what I would say to her....  You are absolutely right! Every day is not meant to be seized. We can no more seize our day than we can hold onto water in our hand. These moments are elusive. They slip through our fingers almost before we even know they are there. I think this is what your “well meaning” friends are trying to say to you. I do believe, however, that these days are meant to be lived. Period. However they present themselves to us. And in reality, quite often it’s not such a pretty picture. Life is not always happy. Life is not always full of ecstasy. Life is not lived in complete gratitude every day. Living in the present moment means giving up our fight against reality. I’ve said this before; it’s not my being sick that causes me most of my suffering. It’s my opposition to the idea of being sick that does. Being sick is my reality . It’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes, especially when I want desperately to blame something or to feel sorry for myself. For example, there are times when I am sick in bed and unable to join my kids for a family meal. I can lay there and create a tremendous amount of suffering for myself, repeating over and over again stories of how unfair life is and how I am missing out on the things I love most. This thinking does not change my reality, but it does add to my suffering by making me miserably sad. 

OR, I can accept the fact that I am sick, embracing the reality of what simply is. Again, this thinking does not change my reality, but it does create a space for the possibility of peace of mind, and sometimes even happiness. Acceptance is quite freeing. Letting go is almost always followed by a sense of liberation – a permission to feel something other than what I would otherwise feel doomed to feel. Open to things unexpected. So often, people misunderstand this for raising the white flag of defeat. No so!! It simply means being honest with yourself about what this moment holds - the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the end, I think the writer of the article did exactly that – she was honest with herself and with her readers. In the end, I hope that’s what I am able to accomplish in this life. Finding the balance in it all, being compassionate, and at the same time, being real. For it is in being real that we offer ourselves as equals in this world. Inviting others to join us along the way, giving and receiving, sharing in our joy and in our pain. This unites us. It makes illness and disease less frightening, it sheds light into a dark and lonely nursing home room and it looks back at us in the mirror with confidence, and says, “good enough.”


abcsofra said...

This is so beautiful written. I have no thoughts to add but just to say thank you for sharing and caring enough to share this with us.

Theresa said...

So wonderful just to know you stopped by. Thank you my friend.

Christine said...

This is amazingly insightful. I agree on many aspects of what you are saying here and what the other article said as well. I think that you (Theresa) find a balance (at least from what I read) in your journey of seizing your moments and accepting the reality of them.

I think it can be difficult. I tend to be very optimistic and positive in my blog, writing, and interpersonal relationships in regards to my chronic illness. That being said, I have just recently allowed myself to be more honest in my writing depending on what space I am in at the moment. I am not sure why I was not more honest before about the suckiness of it all; I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I TRULY believe that a positive attitude and outlook promotes healing and peace and I still stand by that. But I am coming to also see that being true to all of my feelings is part of that process as well.

Good food for thought...thank you!!

Theresa said...

Thank you Christine. I honestly think that what the writer of the article said and what I am saying are much the same thing - just in a different way. Being honest with the moment - whatever it is.
I DO struggle with writing about the difficult times. And when I do, I seem to write about them with great control and almost always AFTER I have dealt with them a bit. And then there are times when I start out feeling overwhelmed by my emotion, but the writing actually helps me through it and by the end of the piece - I seem to have figured it out. That's the healing in it all for me, I guess.
In the end - this is a great lesson for life in general. Being true to the moment. So much of our pain is self induced - frustration, anger, jealousy, worry... all based on stories of opposition to what is. And almost always not the real picture.
You are absolutely correct - it's all part of the process...the process of living. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

What a great post! You definitely have a talent for writing!

I agree that for people like us, the whole notion of Carpe Diem is exhausting. We are not "the masses" who this message is meant for. We have to find another way to live that's more in harmony with our reality.

It's always difficult for me to know what to share on my blog. I want to be authentic, without being too serious or depressing. But, I've come to realize lately that the secret to finding balance, for me, is when I'm honest about acknowledging the "suckiness", as Christine says, then that in turn actually helps me embrace the joy in a much richer sense. (If that makes any sense.) (^_^)

Lots of love to you, Theresa!

Sean Rasmussen said...

A well written blog post on how we see life on a daily basis. Seize the day! But always be careful on how you do this. Keep up the good work.

Theresa said...

Thank you, Sean. What a kind and genuine comment.