Monday, September 29, 2014
a new year
Autumn, the best season hands down, has always marked change for me. Part of the reason is that it's the Jewish New Year - a time to reflect on what's transpired during the past 12 months, to come to terms with those things, to apologize to the people I love for all that I've messed up, and to move forward with a "clean slate," an open heart and a renewed sense of curiosity and commitment.
Every day of my life is spent with someone who has a chronic illness. He experiences various levels of fatigue, pain, frustration and sadness depending on a variety of ever-changing factors. He also knows what it's like to conquer fears, work through road blocks and fight to feel strong and healthy. Life is, of course, chock full of unpredictable events. Chronic illness makes a person appreciate the easy, smooth patches - and realize that victories, both small and large, can feel impossibly wonderful. Living with chronic illness seems to also makes those involved keenly aware of the fact that each of has something difficult with which to deal. Maybe it's an auto-immune disorder, maybe it's depression, maybe it's an obsession with weight, maybe it's a constant struggle with drugs and alcohol, maybe it's a lack of self-confidence. Sometimes it's obvious to outsiders; often it's not.
We all have our troubles, and we all have our wounds to show for them.
I hope this year I learn to be more patient with myself when encountering difficulties, but mostly I'd like be more understanding of other peoples' challenges and pain.
My brother's family has a good, life-long friend named Rebecca Alexander. You may have seen her on the Today show or Meredith Vieira recently - or chatting it up with her brother, Peter, on the NBC nightly news. Becky was born with a rare genetic disorder called Usher Syndrome III. (I first wrote about her on my blog here.) She's a smart, accomplished, beautiful woman - a psychotherapist and extreme athlete who has been gradually losing both her vision and hearing since she was a young teenager. Her book, Not Fade Away, was just released and has been my downtime companion for the past few days.
What impressed me most about Becky's inspiring book is that she has ultimately (now in her mid-30's) found a place to not only acknowledge and accept the wounds she's been dealt, but she's also figured out that the knowledge that seeps into the cracks around those wounds lights her up - brilliantly - from the inside.
Shana Tova (Happy New Year) to you all. None of us knows what the coming year has in store for us, but I hope we'll all find the strength to navigate the obstacles - and, better yet - to embrace the special moments of clarity and sweetness. I, for one, am moved to do so by people like Eddie and Becky.