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The Opportunity in Illness

You can change lives by using your illness to set a good example for others.
You can change lives by using your illness to set a good example for others.

There is great opportunity in facing a serious illness. An opportunity for us to explore the depths of our souls, and an opportunity for those around us to observe us as we do. While they observe, they learn many things: They learn how to fight for the things they want in life without letting fear get in their way, because after watching us fight for our lives, their obstacles no longer seem so large. Or, on the more unfortunate end, they learn that some tragedies cut the human spirit so deeply that one simply cannot move forward. This typically prompts them to feel thankful for their lives, but at the same time their gratitude is now laced with an underlying fear that their own form of doom from which they cannot escape is lurking around the corner.

We are an example for those who are healthy, as well as for others who are ill. While it may seem our impact is little, we need to realize that it is rather large collectively. When we do, it becomes clear we are in no way alone or useless. We are far from it. I had been isolating myself and withdrawing from relationships of any sort, until I realized the answers I search for often come only when others ask me the same question I struggle to answer. Solitude is a good thing, but we need one another. When we harmoniously experience solitude while together, we are able to fully experience what solitude is meant to teach us -the essence of the universe flowing both within us and without us. Ironically, we end up learning more about life when disabled than many healthy people ever do. At the least, we learn it at a much earlier age.

When our lives are halted, and we spend day in and day out doing what seems like nothing, we in a sense do more than those who are constantly busy. With so much time on our hands, and separated from the noise of the world, we find what others are desperately seeking -ourselves. While others go to the ends of the earth to find themselves, we find ourselves here and now, in this very moment, in this very breath. Without the noise of a busy world encompassing our every thought and move, the sound of the universe reverberates through us. It shouts that the more we search for ourselves externally, the further we get from finding ourselves. That’s the secret: to not ask who we truly are and are supposed to be, but to sit silently with who we already are and learn to simply be. This is the core from which the essence of all things stem. This is the death of who we once thought we were, and the birth of who we really are. This is the meaning of now, this is the meaning of eternity. This is the raw beauty that lies in all of our heart wrenching terror.