July 14, 2014
A life lived only by the well, or a life worth living?
Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD — one of the earliest pioneers in the mind/body health field — includes a short chapter titled “Life is For the Well.”
Here she tells about one of her patients who had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and spent several years seeking help for her symptoms. She would go from doctor of doctor “obsessed with the minutest details of her physical problems, which she tracked in a daily journal.” She thought she had to be without symptoms to enjoy life to go the theater, to have children, to love.
It seemed to her that life could only be lived by the well.
Then in meditation one day, she saw that her chronic disease was not stopping her from participating in life; rather, it was the meaning she assigned to that illness. She was surprised to find that there was absolutely no reason why — if she felt weak or was in some pain — she couldn’t still go to the theater. It might take her longer to get to her seat and if she felt poorly she may have to leave early and miss the last act. But otherwise, operating from the way in which she defined her illness, she would have missed the whole play.
Today, Dr. Remen writes:
She has stopped pursuing the perfect health she once had and does what she can to strengthen her body in simple, natural ways. Instead of seeing four or five doctors a week, she now consults her doctors only for serious problems. She has discovered that by being willing to begin without being certain of the outcome, she is often able to do a great deal more than she would have thought. Laughingly, she says that she has made a substitution in the cross-stitched sampler than hangs in the walls of her inner life. It used to say, “Life is only for the well.” Now it says, “Anything worth doing is worth doing half-assed.”
I’ve told you this story because I’ve been under the weather for several days and have only had enough energy to watch films on my iPad. Then this morning I remembered that I had said I hoped to write two posts a week and last week you only got one. What was I to do without energy to give this piece more than a perfunctory attempt?
That’s when I remembered the story of living fully no matter how one feels — and that I did have something to share after all, even if I wrote it perfunctorily. You see, just a short time ago I finished “Ever After: A Cinderella Story” in which Drew Barrymore plays a spirited commoner in a delightful twist on an old tale.
I don’t need to write more than to recommend you watch it. Read the reviews and see for yourself.