“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Friday, October 10, 2008

Two Inspiring Books

Sometimes, with chronic fatigue, you have a tendency to dwell on the negative. As you become less capable and less active, it's natural to mourn the loss of activities you once loved. It is easy to get bogged down in self-pity, and it can easily blind you to the hidden blessings that also come with this disease.

One of the hidden blessings I've discovered is that chronic fatigue forces you to simplify your life. You are simply physically unable to keep up the frantic pace you most likely followed prior to getting sick! You then find yourself taking stock of what is most important to you. It is often surprising to discover just how far back in your priorities these important things had fallen. When you discover "I can't" then all the "have-to's" simply disappear. You are then left with the joy of crafting your life around what is really important to you.

Two books that I find inspiring and helpful are Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby. In Walden, Thoreau purposely eliminates everything superfluous from his life and lives in the simplest fashion in a small home he built on Walden Pond. It is interesting to me that he chose the life that I am forced into! His observations are amazing, and it makes me think about my own life and if I am learning such profound lessons from my experience.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the story of a driven, successful man who has a stroke that results in locked-in syndrome -- he is completely paralyzed and cannot communicate by any way other than blinking is eye. In many ways it is a tragedy. In fact, in my book club, most of the women were unable to see past the horrible coffin this man lived in -- the "diving bell". However, what was beautiful to me were the "butterflies" in the story. It left me with the question: when your entire life is stripped away from you, and all that is left is a confrontation with you, how will you respond? To a far less extreme, that is the question that we with chronic fatigue face. This book inspires me to find the butterflies in my own current circumstances.

These are two excellent books, and I recommend them highly to anyone who wants to appreciate life more!