Friday, November 23, 2012

The Art of Happiness

It's the day after Thanksgiving and compared to last year I did really well.  It was also the first Holiday where the the only Grandparents at the table were my parents.  My niece got her first taste at eating at the big table and even had the small crystal glass to hold by the stem with her little pinky extended.

My parents made me a separate dinner, and it only bothered me after the fact to see the feast in front of me that I couldn't eat - the reminder when I got home of the frailty of the moment.  I had made chocolate chip muffins and in the "safety" of my home began eating it and the instant it touched my mouth my mind was confused because it tasted like a fruit.  I immediately popped a benadryl and thought I was making things up, and then later that evening it clicked...I had washed raspberries for a care package and I had dried them on a paper towel on the counter...somewhere along the way either when I made the muffin or I set it down it transferred the slight cross contamination...this is the frustration.

I'm fine a bit strung out from 2 Benadryl - and a bit congested still this morning - but overall fine.  The thing is this is the second time this week I have been less cautious.  For the first time in 7 years I missed my phone appointment with my doctor...completely slipped my mind.  She called me the next morning to answer a question I had and I asked why she didn't just call me and she replied..."I just figured you felt good."  She was right I did...the second the fact that I even decided to wash and prepare berries without a massive overly cautious dialogue in my head.  I didn't scrub the counter down - yes I got a minor reaction but in the big picture I have slowly stopped becoming so obsessed - that is hope.

You don't have to Buddhist to appreciate the Dahlai Llama - in fact that would just be a shame if you did.  I was reading The Art of Happiness from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. this morning, because to be quite honest yesterday I was extremely happy and sad at the exact same time.  Happy by how far I have come yet a deep buried sadness of all I have lost while being surrounded by all that I have gained, and realizing how far there is to go; not knowing if I will ever be released from all the confines this illness holds.  So I picked up this book figuring I could use some perspective and came across this paragraph and thought it related well to this blog of "hope".

Spoken from the perspective of Howard Cutler in the introduction to this book The Art of Happiness.  "By the end of our series of meetings I had given up on that idea (a set of easy instructions on how to conduct oneself for happiness)  I found his approach encompassed a much broader and more complex paradigm, incorporating all the nuance, richness, and complexity that life has to offer.  Gradually, however, I began to hear the single note he constantly sounded.  It is one of hope.  His hope is based on the belief that while attaining genuine and lasting happiness is not easy, it nevertheless can be done.  Underlying all the Dalai Lama's methods there is a set of basic beliefs that act as a substrate for all his actions: a belief in the fundamental gentleness and goodness of all human beings, a belief in the value of compassion, a belief in a policy of kindness, and a sense of commonality among all living creatures."

Hope - the possibility of attainment - acquiring that happiness despite of our circumstances.  Knowing we can only change so much, what matters is how we adapt to the changes we never saw coming.  Change as the saying goes...the only thing we can depend upon.  This illness is changing for me and I moved up my trip to Phoenix by a week because I can slowly feel the change, the subtle changes of a body regressing and I can change that - I can get on a plane and go find my hope.

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