Saturday, December 1, 2012

We are not our bodies. We are all connected

This was not the post I intended for today, but sometimes you experience something and well it doesn’t pay “to force the river” as the expression goes.

 Earlier in the week I was an advocate for a person about to undergo major orthopedic procedure. Sitting in the waiting room, and watching people in various stages of healing, including just being diagnosed, over hearing conversations and talking to the person I was advocating for, two thoughts came to my mind: we are so much more than our bodies, no matter what our age or physical condition, and we are all connected.

As if I needed a further reminder of these two points, yesterday, I happened to came across Janine Shepherd’s talk on TED: A Broken Body Isn’t a Broken Person A cross-country skier for the Australian US Olympic team, Shepherd was hit by a truck. A partial paraplegic, she went on to become a pilot, ultimately realizing, that although my body might be limited, it was my spirit that was unstoppable. 

 During her hospitalization in the spinal cord unit, she was in a room with five other people, where they could not see each other. A nurse placed straws on top of each patient and they were instructed to piece them together. The staff person connected each person’s straws to the patient on either side and instructed them all “to hold on.” Though they could not see each other, the straws were a physical reminder of their connectedness.

I know that I'm not my body, and I also know that you're not yours. And then it no longer matters what you you look like, where you come from, or what you do for a living. All that matters is that we continue to fan the flame of humanity by living our lives as the ultimate creative expression of who we really are, because we are all connected by millions and millions of straws, and it's time to join those up and to hang on. And if we are to move towards our collective bliss, it's time we shed our focus on the physical and instead embrace the virtues of the heart. 

 When someone states it so clearly, as Shepherd has, there is little more to say. Yet, as we begin the whirlwind that we call the “holiday season,” its good to keep in mind the following:

• Get in touch with the spirit of the holidays-good well, peace, love, joy and merriment-and focus on them rather than the exterior stuff (the right tree, dress, suit, presents etc.). 

• As noted in Healing the Whole Person: Ways to Increase Well-Being you are more than the diagnosis. Fear, shame, vulnerability and powerlessness can be common emotions. It is easy to define yourself by what you can no longer do and how you appear. You might even feel that you have been robbed of everything that makes life worth living. Yet great things can be achieved by connecting with your inner self, identity, soul, spirit or whatever form you choose to call the core of who you are versus what you appear to be.

• We are all connected, so think of simple ways to embody the spirit of the holidays for all and not just those you may be related to.

• Of the things you are most frustrated by in your life, change what you can and accept what you can’t.  And then I knew, just like before, that I had a choice. I could keep fighting this or I could let go and accept not only my body but the circumstances of my life. An then I stopped asking, "Why me?" And I started to ask, "Why not me?" And then I thought to myself, maybe being at rock bottom is acutally the perfect place to start.  J Shepherd

• If you need a reminder about acceptance, go see “The Life of Pi,” in 3-D if at all possible. I could elaborate, but it’s a gem of a film that deserves to be seen with an open mind. 

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