“Very occasionally, if you pay really close attention, life doesn’t suck.”
~ Joss Whedon
On Friday I posted about a beautiful ordinary day, and how much I had enjoyed such simple things as a trip to the farmers’ markets, clean sheets on the line, sunshine and crisp ripe apples.
After that post I received two emails, extracts of which are below:
That might be fine for you, Nicole, but not all of us live in Byron Bay. Not all of us have a beautiful life.
You obviously aren’t that sick, although you say you have lyme. No person with a chronic illness could enjoy the kind of life you have.
I guess that I need to be honest then, and admit that not all of my day was what you might consider beautiful. In fact it was downright ordinary. But I omitted those details from my Friday post.
I can list those things here:
- As a result of my current course of drugs I have neurological urinary incontinence. I wore an adult diaper to the markets.
- As a result of the drugs, the bacteria dying, and my poor liver not coping with increasing levels of toxicity I was covered head to toe in a fierce rash and weeping eczema. Agonising, and ugly too.
- I was plagued by a sense of impending doom – the kind of feeling a psychic gets when they know something is about to happen, over which they have no control, but by which they will be impacted.
Here’s a photo of me a week ago, just before my last round of IV drugs. It was the best I’d felt in months and I was teaching myself how to take a selfie so I would have a picture of me for my new website. It was fun. I put on lipstick, and wore a jacket that made me look dressed for going out. I like this photo. I have clean hair, I’m standing in my garden on a bright autumn day, and it’s a headshot, so you can’t see my pyjama bottoms or my big-girl pull-up incontinence pants. About four photos later I worked out how to look into the camera instead of at my hand…
And here’s a couple of me taken last Thursday in Brisbane. Just before beautiful ordinary magical Friday. Here’s the rash that began to creep up my limbs and made me want to claw my own flesh off my bones.
Here’s my face, which was covered in blotches. I won’t share the photos of the weeping, bleeding rash behind my knees, under my arm and right across my chest and left breast. My face went that way too, by Friday morning.
Why am I sharing this? I have lived with chronic illness and daily misery for thirty years. That thirty years has taught me a lot. Once upon a time I would have been the person who sent plaintive, judgemental or whiney messages to others, whom I felt had no idea how much I was suffering and no right to say that life was good, when it plainly wasn’t.
But that kind of thinking ruins any chance you have of having a rich and satisfying life.
So I adjusted my focus.
No matter how crappy my day gets, I look for beauty. I look for the small pleasures, the tiny details of comfort and joy, the things that will make my day memorable, or at least tolerable.
It’s become one of my superpowers. And it could easily become one of yours.
We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react, we can control our thoughts, and we can control our focus.
On Friday I didn’t focus on my distress and discomfort. In fact, I worked hard to not focus on them and to look for the beauty around me.
As I ate my dinner in front of the fire early on Friday evening I reflected that it had indeed been a very beautiful ordinary day. That’s my secret. I know that every day can be a beautiful day, or at least have elements of beauty hidden within it, just waiting for an observant eye and an open heart.
So, I have to ask you…
Where’s your focus?