As so often happens to me and I’m sure to many others, when I am pondering on something that is concerning me, I get an answer through a person, an experience or even a book. The latter has recently been the answer for me. I have at times quoted Victor Frankl after reading his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, many years ago. I have intended reading it again and had it in my, to read, pile. During the week, I started to read it and found that I couldn’t put it down.
In the past six months, I have felt a huge shift in my very being. I think it began around the time I was going through an edit of my book for a new publisher. I am not sure why it struck me so profoundly that the book contained so many years of my life and, in comparison, there are very few years left. This left me to ponder on the way I have used my time in the past and how much time I may have wasted. There was also the temptation to wallow in the embarrassment of mistakes made and the consequences of some actions that were taken. How had I been fulfilling my purpose when I was perhaps using a measurement of success that did not serve me?
For most of my life I have understood the importance of suffering and the learning that can come from experiencing it, yet recently, as I began experiencing a great deal of pain, I was searching for an answer to why this was happening. All it seemed to do was impede my desire to make the most of my Autumn days.
So, I turned to Victor and again reminded myself that, whatever we are experiencing, we can still remember that we have a purpose, and even if we are not sure, at that time, what that purpose is exactly, it assists us to endure the present circumstances. This certainly inspired me. I know what my purpose is and reminding myself of this has helped me work with the pain.
When my husband was dying, I was able to be present for him, as I lay beside him in his palliative room. I know he had a peaceful death, partly because of this, yet outside of his room, others saw me as a rather deranged soul and there were lots of things I wish I had done differently. Whilst I spent several years afterwards in emotional turmoil, I am so grateful for all that I learnt and the empathy it gave me when I see others going through times like this.
I am reminded of this as I manage pain. I am not proud to say that there have been occasions that I have been impatient with others who seemed to focus on their pain. Now I am being given experience of how challenging it can be to not allow pain to consume me and I know that this experience is transitory. I do not expect that I will need to go through this for too much longer and I am doing all I can to understand what I need to do. I have been getting some very clear messages. It would be too easy to just give up, but I have some important projects which I will complete. My habit of writing a vision board at the beginning of each year is always a vital prompt for me and if I keep it in mind, it keeps me on track.
I love these words from Victor’s book, “What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him? “No thank you,” he will think. “Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done, and of love loved but of suffering suffered. These are the things of which I am most proud, though these are things which cannot inspire envy.”