So tomorrow is my birthday.
I was pretty upbeat about turning 49, but last Monday I had an absolutely terrifying return of my old nemesis epilepsy.
As I was shaking off the seizure – and the lingering effects of Suboxone withdrawal – another health issue I had thought was long behind me came roaring back. Peripheral neuropathy. It’s like my feet are being frozen, stung by bees, punctured by scorching hot nails and clawed by a lion all at once every second twenty-four hours a day.
So for a few days I indulged myself and threw a pity-party. A stupid and foolish thing to do because it solves nothing, but no point in beating myself up over it. I am human, and like any human I have the illusion that there are limits to the amount of physical pain, fear and loss that a person can take. I say illusion because limits are always illusory. What I have been through over the last twelve months has been hard, but there are people working through greater pain than I have ever borne.
I am not much of a Bible-thumper, but there is a verse that I have gone to ever since I was a kid trying not to scream from the pain of the ear infections that destroyed my hearing.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
I think that, as we get older, our crosses get heavier. Life and love and loss take their toll and we stumble from time to time. The burdens we carry differ from person to person, but the challenge to live in spite of the weight is the same for each of us. It would be easy to give up, but that would mean missing out on the rewards of living in this beautiful world.
While I may bitch and moan now and then (I am Irish, after all) I am still willing to pick up my cross and follow wherever I am led.
So tomorrow my best and wisest friend will drive me to Assateague early in the morning so I can visit with the wild ponies. When we get home I will shoulder my cross again an set myself back to work. Doing what I love. Following.
Instead of wishing me a happy birthday tomorrow, instead help somebody else carry their cross for a few steps. You will help another human being and gain valuable perspective for yourself. – and actions speak more to an old artist like me more than any holiday greeting ever could.
March 24, 2019