Wednesday, October 21, 2015
We are now back from Fiji and trying to regroup for our time here in New Zealand. I've been fighting another bought of bronchitis and have felt pretty puny. Sigh.
When we got back from our Tonga trip I got really sick, coughing so hard for days I could hardly get any sleep. (And I REALLY needed rest, having come back utterly exhausted after doing 22 trainings in 12 days which probably had a lot to do with why I got sick in the first place). This time isn't as serious as that episode, but it still feels pretty crummy.
During the time I was struggling with the chronic pain after I injured my shoulder in Samoa, or when I broke my wrist the first time we went to Fiji, I often would find myself sitting up in the wee hours of the night, unable to sleep. One of the ways I coped was to read every conference talk I could find with searches like "Adversity", "Suffering", or "Pain". I found some really great talks on these topics and have had time to seriously ponder them. I am well familiar with the scripture that says "For it must needs be that there is opposition in all things...." (2 Nephi 2:11)
Right now I am not that bad off. I am definitely not well. But it could be so much worse.
Still, I feel sick enough to be uncomfortable and whiny. It also has caused me to think about the challenges that lie ahead as an inevitable part of aging. Granted, aging goes smoother for those who practice good health habits, staying strong and flexible, managing weight, and being engaged in life. Still, ALL of us sooner or late will go through a time when our bodies will experience increasing aches and pains and limitations. For some, serious illness or debilitation can bring crushing emotional as well as physical suffering.
I think about the people I know and love who are going through truly huge challenges right now...and there are several. I think of times in the past when I was going through dark periods when life really was a struggle.
I ponder about the nature of suffering, not to be gloomy, but rather to understand better my own reactions to difficult experiences and seek the lessons that it has for me.
If I have learned anything at all about coping with opposition it is this: hurting is not permanent. It can feel like it at the time. Some kinds of pain can be so overwhelming that we can feel as if we can never see the light of day again. But having ridden my way out to the other side of some very dark situations in the past, I find I've gained a sense of perspective. So now I am much more able to see that tough times we go through really can soften us spiritually, give us more compassion for others, gift us with a greater appreciation for the blessings of our lives.
EVERY life will know pain. Some big. Some more minor. The trick, I think, is not to fight it or blame it or bemoan my state when I'm in the thick of hurtful times, whatever the nature of the specific circumstances may be. Ideally, I'd like to be able to practice acceptance of all things more completely.. It is what it is. That's easy to say. Sometimes, however, it's hard to achieve. Even though I truly do believe there is always much to be grateful for, even in the midst of hardship, when stuck in the middle of a challenge, it can be incredibly difficult to maintain that detached optimism.
I have no doubt that life still has plenty of lessons to teach me about adversity. For now, I just wish I could quit coughing and get some rest.