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. 

 

Why?

 

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. 

Peace.

Pictures from Wikipedia.

37 comments:

  1. Those are such beautiful quotes. I love what you shortened the first one to. Love you!

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    1. Dear Elisa, the shortening helps me remember more easily. Often instead of saying, "In thinking of . . ." I'll say instead, "When thinking of . . . etc." Peace.

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  2. These quotes, and especially the second one, Everyone is fighting a great battle, are the foundation of my mother's life and response to the world. She was good to know, as you are.

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    1. Dear Joanne, your mother must have been--just as mine was--a valiant woman. My mom had her priorities right and she was, until her death at 58 (when I was 32) the person I most wanted to emulate. Peace.

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  3. Kindness never, ever goes astray. Including self kindness which I struggle with.

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    1. Dear Sue, have you ever read the 19th century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins? Sent from England to Ireland by the Jesuits, he felt banished and sank into a deep melancholy. I discovered him in the midst of my own. He wrote four sonnets that describe his feelings. One of these I recite to myself often and when you shared that you struggle with being kind to yourself, I thought of his words. They speak to me; perhaps, they will speak to you also. "My own heart let me more have pity on; let me live to my sad self hereafter kind, charitable; not live this tormented mind with this tormented mind tormenting yet." These are the first four lines of his fourth sonnet. Let us be at peace in Oneness.

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  4. Like Philo,I usually try to rationalize what may be behind behavior before judging it. Wish I were more successful at it but I try.
    There is so much wisdom in those few words and are ones we all should try to make part of our lives.
    You have taken the serious challenge of a debilitating disease and have challenged it. Kudos Dee.
    May there be way more carefree days than not in your future.

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    1. Dear Patti, I'm struggling with the urge I have right now to judge those who seem to be working against our democracy and for the establishment of an authoritarian fascist country. I need to untangle the actions from the actor. But that's being hard for me, despite the quotations and the truth I find in them.

      Thanks so much for the carefree days you wish for me! Peace.

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  5. These are wonderful quotes, and I must say that all the trials you have gone through have made you an even more insightful person, and one I always appreciate hearing from. Sending you my own personal love and kindness.

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    1. Dear DJan, thank you for sending me both love and kindness. I'm trying so hard to separate actions from the actor. That is, in today's politics I find some actions so deplorable that I'm struggling not to find some of the politicians deplorable also. Peace.

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  6. Those are precious words of wisdom, indeed. And as the Buddha said, "If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete!" Wise words, and even wiser words in The Book.

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    1. Dear Holly Rose, it took me a long time--decades really--to realize that I needed to be gracious and compassionate toward me if I was ever to hope to deeply feel that for others. Peace.

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  7. Lovely quotes
    Kindness should come naturally but for some it doesn't

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    1. Dear Jo-Anne, so glad that the quotes spoke to you too. And yes, kindness doesn't come naturally all the time. Right now I'm grappling for how to keep my thoughts kind as I watch one country moving from democracy to fascism because of a thirst for power and the need in some to have others always be "them" and not "us." Peace.

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  8. Dee, thank you so much for sharing your recognition of gratitude, having journeyed so far through the experiences you've been given with grace and peace. I like the quotes, too.

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  9. Dear Deanna, it's good journeying with blogging friends like you who also explore the questions that aging brings forth for all of us. Peace.

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  10. your wisdom remained triumphant during all those years since i know you dear Dee and once again you are on the top and i am looking at you with smile which reflects the gratefulness for One Who made me meet you my amazing friend!

    let me admit that i feel blessed to have you s blogging friend :)
    thank you for sharing about how and why you feel positive despite of all odds .
    i loved the quotations because they perfectly reflect what i feel about life.
    it is not that bad things don't disturb me at all but this is true that their effect on me had been temporary and i am thankful that as i grew i saw this duration shrinking each next time.and i believe that it was my strengthening faith who made it possible.
    life is not more than an illusion ,we all get our part and try to fill in the blanks just to time pass believe me though we learn this at the end.one who does it without hurting others makes his existence successful that is it :)

    i think you did great and must be among toppers !

    thinking of you with pray full heart dear Dee ,stay blessed with positive energy!
    hugs and blessings!

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    1. Dear Baili, your words are always so encouraging. They inspire me to be a more caring person who lets go of negativity and looks for the good in all things. I'm having a hard time doing that now as the United States becomes more and more fascist. I think I am watching the disintegration of our democracy. It saddens me greatly. Peace.

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  11. Those are wonderful quotes to treasure and recall every single day. My Norwegian grandmother had a saying (actually she had hundreds!) — Everyone has their cross to bear. That has stuck with me all my life as a reminder to be a compassionate person and in dealing with people who seem difficult. Namaste and hugs, dear friend.

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    1. Dear Cynthia, yes, my mom used to say what your grandmother said. I suspect its a slice of wisdom that all of us can munch on. I admit to you that I'm having a hard time being kind in my thoughts about many politicians today. I'd like to respect them, but they seem to have tossed their integrity in a carpetbag and thrown it into either a gully or a nearby creek in flood. Peace.

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  12. What a marvelous post, Dee. I so much love every single word and I am in total agreement. Peace to you always and forever. xx

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    1. Dear Kay, if your son is looking for lyrics or melody, I’m thinking that these quotes could inspire him. Something like Michael Joncas and also the St Louis Jesuit singers and of course Woody Guthrie and Simon and Garfinkle. Peace to you also!

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    2. Yes indeed, perfect words for lyrics. We need inspiring songs these days. x

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  13. Meniere's certainly puts more than a crimp in ones life. I've experienced some vertigo and a few days when I staggered through the house like a drunk, not to mention the accompanying other less-than-pleasant symptoms. Other times I couldn't stagger at all and had to remain in the bed. I was treated for a few years as having migraines. Fortunately, a diagnosis involving my balance mechanism and ways to manage that mostly has generally resolved my issues. I do so wish there was some solution for you to prevent the onset of those symptoms you experience. The quotes here are so meaningful and appropriate.

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  14. Dear Joared--so sorry that you had to live through a period of migraines and vertigo. But glad that you are now able to manage the symptoms and mostly resolve the issues. Yes--so glad for you. I hope to post a little this week about the latest on Meniere's. I do not want to overstress all this--but it is what my life is right now. As I always say--it is what it is. Peace.

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  15. Yes, Dee, I too use that saying, "it is what it is... and I can handle it" (started when I was diagnosed with BC in 2000). And I too "try" to always think of what the intention is when something is done not to my liking. Sometimes the intention is good, even though the result may not be. And as for politics these days, I find it difficult to pray for some people, but know they must need it badly. As a child (and possibly still) I always wondered why we didn't pray for the devil... didn't he need our prayers? Loved the quotes! Stay well and stay safe!

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    1. Dear Rian, so sorry to take so long to respond to your thoughtful comment. I have to admit that while I always say it is what it is, Isometimes I’m not too sure that I can handle it. But usually, that feeling of being unequal to something lasts only a few minutes and then I do what that song says about picking myself up dusting my self off and going about life again. I’ve known so many strong women in my lifetime. Women in my family as well as women in the convent as well as women with with whom I worked as well as neighbors and authors and bloggers and all those who have touched my life and given me the example that makes me think after a few moments or minutes, yes I can handle that! I suspect That you can truly handle most things that come along because your attitude towards life is such a positive and optimistic one. Peace.

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  16. Hi Dee, I just wanted to tell you...I wrote that paraphrase that you did from Maya Angelou and put it on my fridge door where I can see it everyday. I love it. Thank you.

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    1. Dear Kay, thank you so much for letting me know. I’m glad I had those two quotes to share. It’s been a number of weeks since I did wrote this posting and I’m so hoping that in the next few weeks I’ll be able to post again. I have started reading blogs again and just the other day visited your posting on classical and bluegrass music. I so enjoy the great curiosity you have about life and also the wide range of interests you post about and share with us. Peace.

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  17. I am attempting to get back to posting with regularity. Your recent posts, both the goodbye to one and the thoughts in this one are evidence of great depth of thought and talent. Both offer me encouragement in my own journey. Thanks!

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    1. Dear LC, it takes much more of something – not sure what—to blog regularly. That is, to write postings and then to visit blogs and leave comments. I wish you luck in your attempting to do this. We’re in it together because I’m making the attempt also. Let’s cheer one another on! Peace.

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  18. Seeing your name appearing is so exciting to me.

    Meniere's has some nasty effects. I sure didn't know about that. See you soon?

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    1. Dear Susan, I, too, was excited about finding you and your blog. And yes, I hope to begin a regular visiting of blogs and posting. Take care. Hope all is well. Peace.

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  19. Thoughtful post, Dee. Being forgiving of others and one's self is one of my life goals, if I'm honest.

    Thinking of you and hoping you are well. x

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    1. Dear Bea, what a relief to hear from you. I'd gone to your blog several times and I'd gotten concerned that you were ill or that life was pressing down on you. I just went and saw that you've posted so in a day or two--when Meniere's allows!--I'll read your posting. So glad you are back in touch. And yes, to be honest, I'm working hard right now to forgive myself for a lifetime of self-absorption. Possibly we are all plagued by setting standards for ourselves that we can't meet and that are higher than we'd ever set for someone we loved. Peace.

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