Living Life on Life’s Terms

I often comment that a key to my addiction recovery is living life on life’s terms.  I find the same is true with cancer and whatever else is going on with my physical state these days.  The fluid on my lungs and related issues cause me to be short of breath for any activity other than sitting or laying down.  Though I am taking the steps and fully anticipate this issue will be dealt with in the short-term, the other day I got to feeling sorry for myself over my mobility limitations.  My thinking then morphed into wondering if this was going to be the new normal.  After a few hours of dwelling in the problem, I was fortunate that my AA recovery mindset kicked in.  Here are some thoughts:

  • I have not been on my bike in a month and my gardening is restricted to weeding, watering, and harvesting – not much expansion these days.  But with restricted physical activity, I have returned to an old love of reading fiction.  A few days ago, while sitting on the back porch with a glass of Red Zinger iced tea and reading Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, I was overcome with the serenity and joy of the experience.  My friend Ernest’s conversation about Chekhov and Chopin got me to pulling books off shelves that were only gathering dust.  I then thought of my favorite poets – B.H. Fairchild, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and W.S. Merwin and rekindled the delight of their words.  That sparked conversation with my friend Kathleen who introduced me to a favorite poet of hers, Philip Levine.  As I sipped the Red Zinger tea, enhanced with peppermint from our garden, I recognized that this period of limited physical activity had actually opened up avenues of enjoyment and growth that had lain dormant in recent years.
  • After being off of chemo for a couple of months, and with mild increase in stomach and back pain and a catheter on my left side, my comfortable sleeping positions became limited.  Recently, sleeping in bed has not worked.  But I can be comfortable on the couch, relying on the additional back support.  As I lay on the couch the other night, completely pain free and in comfort, I was grateful for the solution.  I luxuriated in the complete and total pain free comfort of my rest and drifted off to a very good night’s sleep.

In his new book The Universal Christ, theologian Richard Rohr writes (p. 83) about the “coincidence of opposites” noting:

How does anyone achieve such a holding together of opposites – things like inner acceptance and outer resistance, intense suffering and perfect freedom . . . God seems to send us on a path toward our own wholeness not by eliminating the obstacles, but by making use of them.

These words certainly resonate with me.  My years in a drunken alcoholic condition ultimately delivered me to the perfect freedom of recovery.  The new health obstacles I face provide me with the opportunity to live into alternative solutions.

Today, I am grateful and truly blessed.

9 thoughts on “Living Life on Life’s Terms

  1. Dear Robert, It was good to talk with you, and you were generous, as I know you had things to get to.

    I hadn’t yet opened this when we talked. Beautiful, and your success at finding value in limitations and twists is useful. I tend to rage, and have often though, while honest, I I wasted too much energy and time.

    Love to you and Emma, from Robby and me.

    Kathleen

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Composed from the heart and a timely reminder that our spiritual provisions are always operating in our lives no matter how challenging the circumstances. Thank you for offering me some much needed encouragement in the midst of a sleepless night in search of a comfortable position…

  3. How wonderful to read just the right thing when one needs it. Thank you. I am struggling with being present for a beloved niece who has “gone past her expiration date” (doctor’s term) due to metastatic stage 4 colon cancer. Here in Central Washington to you in NO, ideas connect and give solace. As for poetry, try Theodore Roethke “Words for the Wind”.

  4. Thank you for these words, Robert. I am so grateful for you and for your strength. Your thoughts continue to help me “live life on life’s terms” and appreciate those terms!

    Also appreciate your reference to Richard Rohr’s work. He really keeps us thinking, doesn’t he?

    Remember no need to worry about peppers – what will be, will be in that regard!

    Best,
    Debra

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