Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Richard and I used to be fierce travelers. In fact, in 1987 we quit our jobs and traveled around the world for a year. We hiked wherever we could. Ate street food. Bargained in bazaars. Even learned a bit about the uses and misuses of baksheesh (tipping/bribing).
For the past 15 years, we have been relatively homebound. My wanderings circumscribed by the addresses of my health care providers. I was either hurting too much or too afraid to wander beyond that perimeter for fear I'd be struck with an immobilizing pain spike, beyond the reaches of my healers.
Next week, Richard and I are leaving on a month-long trip to Europe. These boundaries were set by the availability of friends to visit in different cities - Paris, Barcelona, Berlin. No doctors, nurses, physical therapists, or energy healers on this map. I'm stepping boldly into this old, new world.
My pain has been an afterthought for the past many months. It hasn't directed my every decision. Can I go to see a movie and tolerate sitting for two hours? Can I visit a friend who lives an hour away? Will there be a comfortable place to sit at her house? Will I be good company at a restaurant or too preoccupied with pain to be social? None of these questions, that have been my companions for more than a decade, have been nagging me recently.
So I am going to Europe in a good physical state. But more than that, I am in a good mental state. A nibble of pain no longer sends me into a never-ever-always tail spin. You know what I mean - the waves of panic that set in when the voices say - "I will never feel better. I will never, ever be able to be a full person. I will always suffer." I have finally learned what to do to quiet my pain. And I have finally learned to answer those dreaded voices with compassion rather than feed them with more fear.
I can't know if this uplifted period is a phase or a new state of being. But I've decided I'll take it and ride it -- to the Eiffel Tower, to the Sagrada Familia church, to the Deutscher Bundestag. And hopefully I'll bring it back home with me.
Right now is the period of the Jewish New Year. A time to connect, in all ways. I wish you all a year of deepened connections, with those you love, with health, and with compassion.