The first few days after our return from Tonga I was totally wiped out. Utter exhaustion wore my general strong resilience down to a nub and I ended up sick in bed for a couple days. I hoped just getting some rest would get me back on my feet, but that didn't do it. I wound up with a nasty case of bronchitis and needed to go see a doctor to get on meds in order to kick it. Fortunately, once I had a couple days of antibiotics and a course of Prednisone in my system, I felt much better. So Larry and I had a chance to get out for a hike and a bit of geocaching to enjoy New Zealand beauty before having to leave all over again.
We continue to be amazed by the many pockets of native bush that have been preserved all around Auckland. There are MANY hectares of reserves that are open for hiking all around the city. They have beautiful trails and places for picnics. This was our first time at Kauri Glen. We enjoyed it immensely. After being stuck in bed feeling sick for a few days it felt absolutely wonderful to be back to my old self and to be able to be up and around again.
That got me thinking a lot about the role of adversity in our lives. Sometimes we wish we could avoid the struggle and hard times that come our way. But it is through the hard times we learn, grow, and come to appreciate the good.
While recovering from my broken wrist I had a lot of pain. Even more than my hand itself, the complications I had with my frozen shoulder really gave me a lot of problem. Most of the time we were in Tonga it was still hurting a lot every morning when I would first get up. Generally after I got moving around and did my exercises as instructed by the physiotherapist I had gone to, I would begin to get some relief. But those first couple hours of each day could be pretty miserable.
How we choose to respond to the pain and problem in our lives really does define the quality of what our lives are like. EVERYONE gets some sort of hardship - some more than others. But we all have our hearts broken. We all have to deal with sickness to one degree or another. We all have disappointments or injustice that happen. People we thought we could trust let us down. Opportunities we thought were just within our grasp go to someone else. We have losses of all sorts to cope with. Life just plain hurts in so many ways.
But it is just as true that there are things to celebrate and be grateful for. There are miracles and beauty and things that can bring us awe and wonder. We choose which we will focus on. We choose which images, feelings, experiences we will hold onto, what we will ponder on, what will be the focus of our day to day lives. We can stay stuck holding on to our pain or we can endure it with grace while putting our main attention on all that is good.
Easy to say - hard to do when the pain is calling out for our whole attention. But I have truly come to appreciate the fact that this world is built on opposites and that in their own way, the trials can bless our lives ever bit as much as the prizes and celebrations. It's all a matter of how we choose to respond to them.
When we have days like today when we get to wrap ourselves up in happiness and beauty I remind myself that I am making important deposits into my emotional/spiritual bank account. I have no doubt there will be days in my future when I feel utterly bereft, or when I want to howl with misery. When those times come I hope I can call up these blessing times and suck on the memories - transporting my focus back to how good I have had it right now. When the final balance comes I may not have any control over whether I got more happy days or more struggles. I may not get to pick how deep the wounds life brings my way are going to be. Sometimes we are left with the wreckage of other people's choices or with whatever freak events happen in this crazy, random, mortal life. But I do have control over which experiences I will play through my head the most often and how intensely I pay attention to what I am currently experiencing.
I don't have to put on rose colored glasses when things go wrong. I can acknowledge the bumps and be honest with myself when things are a complicated cluster of angst, confusion or hurt feelings. But I don't have to let it own me. I can put it in perspective along side of days like this when I feel so fully alive and am experiencing peace, beauty, and love in such abundance. And that can make all the difference.