Kind Promise: I will be tender with weaknesses.
“For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy or there is none
If there be one, then seek and find it
If there be none, then never mind it.”
— Mother Goose
“You are standing gratuitously,” my husband reminded me. It was 15 years ago. I was at our baby shower and he knew that if I was standing around now, my legs would weaken and I would not be able to stand later. In those days, I was budgeting leg strength.
Now, sitting in my wheelchair, I am budgeting arm strength. I feel like I am underwater from the shoulders down. When I lift my right arm, my hand only goes as high as my shoulder. With my left arm, I can reach for the sky, but the air is heavy, weighing me down.
My monster-mind makes it worse, of course. I immediately think “this – and worse – are what I will have to deal with from now on.” I think about all the things I will not be able to do. I get angry. I get sad. Despair sets in. My body’s weakness is compounded by weak thinking.
Asking myself to be tender with this weakness is a Big Request. There is no remedy for this ailment, but it is difficult to “never mind it.”
An interesting thing happened a moment ago: I said “this weakness” and my assistive software typed “this sweetness.” I gasped a little. Looking at myself – body and mind – from outside, I see the sweetness of my position: losing physical strength and capability but determined to practice mental habits that will anchor me in strength and creativity so firmly that no outside circumstance can tear me loose. There is sweetness and tenderness there.
I need to create a mental response to the monster-mind panic that greets weakness. Mother Goose and the Serenity Prayer (there’s a name for a band) are too flippant. Mentally saying “never mind it,” will come with a snarl and “accept the things I cannot change” will come weighted with resignation. I need something else.
I’ve been tired lately and, when I’m tired, I watch TV. I watched Jim Carrey on “Inside the Actors Studio.”
Jim Carrey: I still haven’t gotten done what I want to do.
James Lipton: Do you know what it is?
Carrey: Yeah. Explode into a ball of light.
The audience laughed. The two men looked at each other, Lipton watching Carrey to see if he was making a joke. Then everyone in the theater was serious and silent for a few moments.
That speaks to me. The danger of working with the idea of weakness this month is that I am so conscious of it. I am so tired, so weak. It doesn’t help me to shrug and never mind it. It doesn’t help me to imagine accepting these things I cannot change. It does help me to think, “someday, I will explode into a ball of light.”