Island Illusion

“No man is an island.” John Donne

Islands bring adventure! Beauty! Exotic sights! Or perhaps they can bring danger, hunger and isolation.

By definition an island is surrounded by water. Without a means to leave the island by boat or swimming one could feel trapped there. Emotions can be like islands. We can feel so overwhelmed by an emotion that we believe there is no escape. When the emotions are jubilant, we don’t mind. We would like to live on the jubilant island forever! But when emotions are dark, we wish to seek light and an escape from such despair, sadness or loneliness.

One must start with John Donne’s declaration. ‘No man is an island’. No matter how isolated one feels, there is a way of escape. The first step is an act of the will-a desire to escape. The desire must translate into actions or the presumed desire is not real. It is an illusion which further traps the inactive person in despair.

So how might one bridge the water which seems to obstruct escape?  Remember, we are not islands. We are people with connections to others. Approaching others may not be easy. A bridge may have to be built or repaired. A person may have to learn to swim to escape. Sometimes we can build the bridge alone. Sometimes we can teach ourselves how to swim. Sometimes we need external instruction. This instruction can be obtained via a friend, a counselor, a book, or a sage. When we want to escape, we must take the action required for that desire to become a reality.

“Too much self-centered attitude, you see, brings, you see, isolation. Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centered attitude is the source of suffering.” Dalai Lama

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/island/

 

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A Baby is Born

What does it mean when a baby is born? To some it means ecstatic celebration. The family planned and prepared and looked forward to the day the baby could be held and brought into their home. To some it means despair as the family is uncertain how they will care for one more family member. To some it means confusion, as nothing went as planned.

What does it mean when a baby is born? To me, it involved all three of the emotions mentioned above. I was ecstatic to have a second child. We loved our first child and longed to bring our second into our happy home. Everyone wanted to see the baby and to hold her. But that didn’t work out-at least not for a while. Our baby had to go to intensive care. She was there for a month and had two surgeries during her stay. So we felt some despair. We had little means to pay for such intensive, and surgical care. We had to meet with hospital finance to work out payment plans-which would continue for the next 10 years. And I was also overwhelmed with confusion. My baby was born with a crippling disability. I had not planned for that. I didn’t know anyone with a disability. I worried about how I could help her.

What does it mean when a baby is born? It means a soul has come to earth for a purpose. My baby had a purpose as she came to us. We had a purpose when we came. We all have our own unique purpose as we live out our lives.

The trick is to enjoy the purpose. I get in a hurry to ‘reach’ a certain point in my journey. Sometimes I slip into a desire that I was on someone else’s journey. I have to take a moment and embrace my own purpose.

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” Wayne Dyer

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/from-the-top/

 

love is a choice

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“The only way love can last a lifetime is if it’s unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love” Stephen Kendrick

I grew up with the feeling of being loved. I believed that no matter what I did, I could talk with my parents about it, they would help me, forgive me, and love me. It made me feel so safe and secure…no matter what the world threw at me, if I rallied or if I failed, I could count on my parents. Not that I was always lovable. I am pretty sure that during the teen age years I caused some heart break. I veered from the path of strong love to a religious bent. I became a zealot and while I am sure I presumed to love my parents, I would also fall on my knees in sobbing pleas for God to save their souls-as I felt they were doomed for hell. I am afraid that during those times they didn’t feel love and acceptance from me, but could sense my thoughts of judgement on them. Despite my intolerant distance from them, they loved me.

I grew out of my zealot bent. I had an opportunity to show both of my parents before their death my devotion to them, full acceptance and great love. They didn’t expect an apology…it was all a part of growing up and experimenting with different philosophies, ideas, and directions. But I have apologized. To them, and to myself. It is one of my regrets: if I ever made anyone feel bad about themselves because their beliefs were different than mine.

I have also been the recipient of conditional love. My husband of 31 years could not accept me when I began to question the actions and dogmas of our strong fundamental conservative church. He was a minister and my freedom of thought was unacceptable. I often say, when I stopped enjoying the church, he stopped enjoying me.

In the end, I learned unconditional love from people ‘outside’ the church. The people in the church had ‘conditions’ on their love for me.

But I cannot answer for other people. I can only answer for myself, my actions, and reactions.

Love may feel very natural and instinctual. Sometimes it is, and most often it starts that way. But love is a choice and a commitment. When a child / teen starts to get involved in things that one might feel is wrong, and maybe it is, and maybe you need to show a little ‘tough’ love, but when you look into their eyes, you see who they are, who they will become and you believe they can do it. You have to look beyond the current moment.

When my daughter was born with spina bifida, she learned to walk with leg braces and crutches when she was two years old. It was wonderful that she could stand, it was also sad that she needed assistance. Sometimes she cried and didn’t want to put on the braces. After my hugs to her, I would look in her eyes and I didn’t see a two year old with crutches, I saw a beautiful young woman who was mobile and could get around independently.  I gave her strength through my belief that she could do it.

When my son was in college and feeling listless and couldn’t find direction in his life, he looked at me and asked , “what should I do”? This was during the time that Back to the Future movie had come out, and in the movie there is a family photo and people keep vanishing from the picture. He said, tell me what to do, I am vanishing… But I looked him in the eyes and didn’t see a lost young man. I saw a capable, bright, strong young man. I told him I could not tell him what to do, he had his own journey, but I knew whatever he chose to do, he would do it great. He could accomplish whatever he set out to do.

Today my daughter is driving a special equipped van and living in her own apartment. My son is a husband,  and father of a beautiful 4 year old daughter and gainfully employed. He looks at her and tells her she can be and do anything she wants to do. No ‘box’ to stay within, just a free spirit soar that her spirit can take.

Love can be challenging. Loving people can let in pain. Loving people can bring joy. But love them, it is a choice. That is what makes conditional love so painful—they choose to let go of their love if you don’t do as they say, or be as they want. When I met and fell in love with my current husband, he accepted me then, and now, for who I am, not necessarily what I do. When he hugged me, he hugged my soul.

“The fire that we call loving is too strong for human minds. But just right for human souls” Aberjhani

Water

“The water doesn’t know how old you are” Dara Torres

Nor does it know if you are disabled. My daughter has a disability-spina bifida-and utilizes a wheel chair for mobility. Unless she is swimming. When she is swimming, she is mobile just like the rest of us. As she moves along in the water, her head and shoulders above the water, she is moving just like those she is swimming with. I wonder how freeing that must make her feel.

She has always loved to swim. As a child her legs carried little weight so I had to put little ankle weights on her ankles to keep them under the water, they kept wanting to float up and capsize her! So, once we got the balance straight, she could swim like a fish. And she can out float an otter!

I know I feel free in the water. My arms and legs move so fluidly. I like to feel the movement of the water on my skin.

Some people jump in the water, splash, and swim laps. I might do those occasionally, but mostly I find I just want to float quietly. I lie back and the water cradles my head. But I don’t usually just lie there. I find I want to swirl in the water, side to side; head one way and legs the other with my arms flowing up and down . I am not sure how I look, but I feel great when I do that. Perhaps it is because I can feel so much of the water flowing past and along me. Perhaps it is because it feels so carefree.

Swimming, in this case, reminds me of freedom and strength. This is a time when someone who faces the daily challenges of a crippling disability  has the same mobility that I do. Getting into and out of the pool, she is certainly reminded of her disability, but in the water there is no need for leg support. She can swim, or float, or bob along in the water as we all talk and laugh-nothing between us but the same water.

“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you, but water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” Margaret Atwood