When I revamped Photential a few months ago and focused upon my online Mindful Photography provision I also made the personal commitment to write with honesty about what was happening in my life. This intention was chosen for a few reasons. Firstly, if I was to be truly engaging in a mindful life then I felt that by committing to write about it I would become more attuned to my experiences and feelings. Secondly, I felt that if I shared some of my difficulties and how I tried to be with them, then it would kind of encourage others to be present with their challenges and feel how they were for them.
“Write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty”.
One of the undermining thoughts that nags away at me when I am doubting this commitment is that I cannot write about stuff going wrong and my personal difficulties and develop the online business successfully at the same time. That the two things are mutually exclusive. Of course I know that the subject I am writing about encourages self enquiry, but I am stuck with that contemporary image of the successful Teflon coated business person. In this case, a man who, impermeable to doubt and fear, strides through the undulating lowlands of business development, immune to failure and certain of the road he is travelling.
So it is with trepidation that I offer my thoughts below upon my current situation. I do so, partly as a form of understanding for myself. That by writing of the situation I develop a greater understanding of what I am living with. Also, I hope that my experiences offer some support and hope for others, that even in the midst of great difficulty we can find that still, balanced part of us that knows we are larger and greater than our current limited view of our own struggles.
The Present Moment
This present moment is reasonably calm. I have just meditated and for the first time in nearly two weeks I feel OK. That summary is of course quite limited. ‘OK’ can cover a lot of bases and it relates to my own subjective impression. So, let me flesh things out.
A few weeks before going on holiday I was diagnosed with diabetes. This has been brought on by having to take steroid medication on several occasions over the last 9 months to open up my airway. It somewhat explains my low energy levels and is the reason for my weight loss in this period. Unfortunately, since diagnosis and starting on tablet medication, prior to a formal hospital assessment, I have physically struggled to adjust. My energy levels have been completely zapped and I have often felt weak and debilitated.
We went on holiday in the hope that the rest would help. Unfortunately the extreme heat and humidity only added to the difficulty. I felt that every moment was a struggle, a struggle to just to be. My holiday intentions to get creative with my camera and write some new course material all went out the window. My attempts to be mindful with the difficulty, to apply any of the strategies I recently learnt on the MBSR all melted away. My struggles were of course not in isolation.
Throughout the ups and downs of chronic health challenges I have had the loving support of my wife, Beci. Her experiences are of course quite different. She has seen her husband and lover changed dramatically by these circumstances. When I am at my worst everything falls on her. The challenges and changes to us as individuals, to our situation and relationship, have been fundamental. When you add an acute health challenge into the mix there is an inevitable breakdown.
Neither of us are to blame, we are both trying to live and adapt to very difficult circumstances. We both know that time and patience will bring change – I have impeding assessments for both a throat op and diabetes – but in the present moment it can all feel overwhelming.
We both have support to help us understand and work through this time. We both have practices and resources that support our intention live open hearted through the pain and difficulty. But it is tough being with all the feelings of isolation and fear. Today though, for no more reason than I have just written through my feelings, I feel hopeful. I can be patient. I do trust that things will change. I believe in possibility.