Tuesday, July 13, 2021

From Whence Comes Gratitude


Hello All. 

Today, I want to share with you two quotations I recently discovered. They pretty well sum up my attitude toward life as I’m headed down the home stretch toward the finish line and what lies beyond. But before the quotations, I want to share with you the experience that has led me to an understanding and appreciation of these quotations. 


Since Meniere’s Disease entered my life in early 2006, I’ve never been able to plan for the morrow. One day goes well: no imbalance, foggy brain, stuttering when speaking, migraine-like headache, or vertigo/dizziness/lightheadedness. 


The next day, Meniere’s forces me to “go with the flow,” to experience one or more of the symptoms.


The following day, depending on the severity of the previous day’s symptoms, I’m depleted and can do little but listen to books on CDs.


This pattern can repeat itself week after week, especially during spring and fall. . . . OR . . . There can be a string of carefree days stretching into a week or so. Everything depends on the precipitous fall or rise of barometric pressure. (Climate change seems to have exacerbated the symptoms. I conclude this because the last two years have been more difficult than any since 2006 when the daily experience of “acute rotational vertigo” made life terrifying.)


Since 2006, Meniere’s has put boundaries around my days, yet I’ve grown accustomed to its presence in my life. While I’d never want to relive that initial year, I am grateful for the disease. 




Because from it, I’ve learned the following: (1) I have control only over how I respond to life’s vicissitudes. (2) Gratitude for all that is and has been and will be banishes discontent and brings peace. (3) Living in the sacredness of each moment leads to an awareness of just how blessed my life is. (4) I live with Meniere’s and everyone  I meet is living with some sorrow, problem, or fear, that is stressing and changing her or his life. This awareness makes me more generous in my thoughts about others. 


Given what I just shared, you will understand why the following two quotations speak to me and sum up what Meniere’s has taught me.

The first quotation is by Maya Angelou, who wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing when she was forty. Here’s something she said later that reflects the lessons I’ve learned from Meniere’s:

If you must look back, do so forgivingly.

If you will look forward, do so prayerfully.

But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully. 

Because of a foggy mind, I’ve shortened the quote to the following, which is easier for me to remember. “In thinking about the past, be forgiving. In thinking about the future, be hopeful. In thinking about the present, be present and be grateful.” 

The second quotation I want to share with you is from Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish philosopher who lived during the last century BCE and the first century CE. All those years ago, he said: “Be kind, for everyone we meet is engaged in a great battle.” 

Meniere’s has taught me to stand as if before the burning bush that Moses encountered and kneel down before the humanity of others—even those whose actions befuddle and confuse me. All of us—all of us—are simply fellow sojourners here on Earth. We never know truly the life that others have and are experiencing. So, yes, kindness. I’m working on this as Meniere’s and Philo ask me to see with new eyes the pain and fear of others. 


Pictures from Wikipedia.