“A rose by an other name” – or Life Doesn’t Actually Suck.

I haven’t been writing much lately – but I have been thinking a lot. Getting older gives us the perspective of standing on the the hill of our “history” and looking at things from a different perspective.  As we get older, we definitely need a different perspective. In the immortal words of Bette Davis,”Old age ain’t no place for sissies!”

Especially in this age of full disclosure, the internet, and a new disregard for our own privacy – an onlooker of facebook or other social media might think that most people have the fairytale life. First of all, that’s a whole other post….what exactly is a fairtyale life? In my mind, growing up, it meant an intact, loving, family, a comfortable house, a security in our families, streets and leaders.  So we actually have a dichotomy here, because what we see on the news and on social media is either the perfect or the tragic. I have news for you, life is both for everyone.

I usually consider myself a very sympathetic and empathetic person, but I am human, I get caught up in my own worries and challenges, just like everyone else, and I drop the ball on peope I love the most ( I try not to) Sometimes I feel forsaken myself….but that’s just human nature. We are all struggling in what is becoming a more challenging environment to live in.

I have done a lot of soul searching and reading and listening to different opinions of all sorts of people, trying to use my time effectively while I am in an autoimmune flare. In the end it all doesn’t matter, to me anyway. I figured out that after a half a century on this planet, I’ve been right about some things and wrong about lots. Not until I stood on the hill of my own history and looked at it like a painting did I begin to understand the truth. It doesn’t matter about other people’s lives – their suffering is no more or less than yours – nor is their joy. They don’t need to look at my “art,” I do, and with a different eye.

Guide posts used to be the tragedies; “oh, that was the Christmas my Dad died.” I no longer want pain as the markers on my map. When I look back, I want to catalog life by the joy, not the sorrow, because otherwise all we begin to see and feel is pain. This is not who I am, but it was who I was becoming.  A lot of it is directly related to the pain and loneliness of living with autoimmune disease. The rest is just from being “battle weary” Life is exhausting for everyone. However, it is also exhilirating. Find the joy and focus on that; on the now, because that is truly all we have. Better to make the best of it than become bitter.

What the hell does this have to do with roses you might be asking right around now. 🙂 I’ve been bedbound quite a bit the past two years. I miss a lot of things and it frustrates me. I was speaking to my sister, who has boundless energy and the ability to push herself no matter how exhausted she is. She raised three wonderful women and at sixty works three jobs. I was telling her how I feel robbed by this illness; that there are so many simple things I want to do and can’t….for years. She replies “you’ve done a lot of things.” This annoys me for a moment from the woman who has traveled all over, been married a million years to a great guy, seen amazing shows, met incredible people. “She totally does not understand the enormous value of what she has” I think with an eyeroll.

Well, she actually gave me a huge gift, and besides that, she was right, (something which is excrutiatingly difficult for this baby sister to concede). I took out my painting/map whatever you want to call it, and started seeing all the things that I DID do. There is so much joy that I lived, that I never want to take for granted. I had blessings that I didn’t understand at the time; being sent to Brazil for 4 months when I was nine. I was excited to go, but I didn’t realize then, that those four months brought me closer to my family in Brazil, and was the beginning of a bond that would last a lifetime and beyond. Many, if not most of my joyfull moments were spent there, or with them. And those unions molded who I am today. My amazing God sent friends who have stuck by me, laughing, singing, dancing, crying through the decades; Concerts, beach days, hugs from little arms and hands, unexpected kisses, flowers popping up after a brutal winter are all blessings never to be taken for granted.

Another thing I’ve learned is, that although relationships wax and wane, they are all there to teach us something – “life is a series of hellos and good-byes” : Billy Joel. But if you peruse your own life’s painting,  you will look down and understand things in a different way. You will see unexpected deep unexpected lifelong soul connections, passing strangers who evoked something important, kindnesses from acquantances at a time you really needed them. Don’t look for the people who disappointed you – look for the people who surprised and delighted you. Suddenly you will be flooded with beautiful memories and you might even be reminded of a single rose – a memory that is so old, you don’t know how your aging brain has retrieved it. And then, thanks to the wonder of technology a “hello Charlo” will appear on your screen after ten years….(only ONE friend ever called me that). The years melt away and it’s like we talked yesterday. It makes me smile, a deep heartfelt smile, alone in the dark with my dogs.

If you are lucky you will realize that nothing is all black or all white. Life has it’s ebbs and flows, and some of them are almost too excruciating to bare.  But try to remember, when we are feeling our most alone, there is someone out there who remembers you, who’s life you touched and many more who continue to love you every single day. If we are paying attention,  we will also see that life doesn’t suck – well at least not all the time!


PHOTO CRED Your Own Life – great site – great article