It takes hard times for many of us to clarify our priorities. When life is smooth and easy, we become complacent, bored, discontented. We get restless and little things crop up to irritate and annoy us.
But then we face a crisis or a tragedy and everything around us looks different. We are changed, from the inside out, and what mattered to us days or weeks before can suddenly shift and settle into a new form.
This has happened to me with my recent hospital stay and my slow recovery. I see now that I had a desperate need to slow down within myself; to learn how to rest and simply be instead of fretting about achieving. I had to practice allowing myself to be loved and cared for, not because I was proving that I deserved that affection, but just because it sprang from the depths of another’s soul. I had to remove myself from my own performance in order to see that I was loved even laying in a hospital bed with a tube in my throat, unable to talk or impress anyone.
Getting home and recovering, inch by painful inch, day after day, I understand now what it means to be patient. How healing it is to turn my life setting to low instead of high. How much I notice when I am resting instead of running. The details of life become sharp and crisp, instead of blurry and distant.
I am changed. I can finally see what’s important and what isn’t important. Proving, striving, yearning…all a waste of precious time and energy. Being present, grateful, authentic…these things have staying power. They sustain, enrich, nourish. I have gifts to give to myself and to others. I will not minimize these any longer. They matter. I matter. Those I love and cherish matter.
Pain is truly a marvellous teacher. None of us would throw up our hand to volunteer to struggle, to weep, to be shoehorned into surrender. But yet it gives us a chance to re-evaluate what we are doing with our time, energy and money. It offers us a unique window into our motives, our deepest fears, our unsatisfied yearnings. Our unexamined beliefs about who we are and what we are doing in this world.
Like spring cleaning, our souls need refreshing from time to time. Usually circumstances will create this opportunity for us, whether we like it or not. It could be surgery, or the loss of someone close to us, financial troubles, behavioural concerns or a host of other unforeseen situations. They offer us a mirror, into our truest selves, which we can choose to examine or ignore.
My priorities look radically different now. I’m grateful for this, even though I never would’ve chosen the path that brought me to this place. But we all must play the hand we are dealt. This internal work is for a lifetime, with endless journeys to undertake and truths to understand. I know who I am now, on a deeper level, and there are no shortcuts to arrive at this type of meaningful significance that has the power to shift an entire life to a new level.