Saturday, April 21, 2012
It gets to me, sometimes
I'm not saying that life seems miserable, because it doesn't.
I'm not saying that people can't be happy-- that I can't be happy-- because I can be, and I often am, and I know people who are, often or even just about always.
But it's hard to be around illness all day. Hopelessness. Poor prognoses. Death. Sadness. Pain. You get used to it, and in some ways that's a good thing, because if you didn't get used to it, you wouldn't be able to get anything done. But in some ways, it's a bad thing, because you start to see the world through that lens, and you forget that there are lots of people out there who aren't sick, who aren't sad, who aren't in the hospital. That there are lots of people out there living their lives and enjoying them, and not waiting for the next shoe to drop. People who aren't professional patients. People who aren't just biding their time until their diagnoses come to get them.
Yes, we will all die, and most of us will get sick before then. It is inevitable. And that's why it's hard to talk yourself out of thinking about it. It's not accurate to say it may not happen to you, because it will happen to everyone. It's not accurate to say you can prevent it. You can try and live a healthy life, and act responsibly, see doctors, get screenings, live carefully... but you're still only tweaking the odds a little bit. Healthy, responsible people get terrible illnesses too. Things that they did nothing to bring on. People die young. People die old. People die. And even people who don't die often live in pain and with disabilities, limitations, and struggles.
Everyone has struggles, whether health-related or not. Everyone has worries, everyone has problems, everyone has their own issues they're forced to deal with. Even people who seem to have it all, from the outside, usually don't.
And it's so easy to dwell on that side of things, to reduce it all to pointlessness. What's the difference, if we're all going to die? What's the point if you can't control your fate, and you could be struck down at any moment? Why even try if any happiness you achieve might all be taken away?
But where does all of that get you, if, at least right now, you're okay? Intellectually, I know it gets me nowhere. I know that happiness is possible, that life can be satisfying and rewarding, that relationships can be satisfying and rewarding, that the day to day can be satisfying and rewarding.
Not everyone loves what they do, but some people do. Not everyone has a rich, full existence, filled with friends they care about and who care about them, activities that bring them joy, families, things to look forward to, meaning-- but some people do. Not every day can be perfect-- every day isn't perfect for anyone. Not every day can be happy, not every moment can be filled with something worth filling it with, but that doesn't mean none of them can.
There are days I don't remember what about this path was supposed to bring me joy, what about this path was supposed to motivate me to be excited to wake up in the morning. I hate those days. I hate the way those days make me feel, about myself and about my life. But I'm also tired of feeling guilty for having those days. I'm tired of feeling guilty or ashamed for feeling sad, for feeling like I'm failing if I succumb to those kinds of thoughts sometimes. Because it's not every day, and it's not every moment, and there is happiness, and there is joy.
I just wish it was easier to grab it sometimes. Easier to remember how to grab it when I most want to find it.
It sounds silly, but I've thought about writing down the things that make me happy. In the moment, the things that make me smile, that make me feel good about the world and about the path I'm on. So I can look at that list when I need to, and remember that sometimes all it takes is a cookie to feel okay about the world. Or an e-mail from a friend. Or crossing something off the to-do list. It's not big things. It doesn't need to be big things. It's small things. And I think it's just when eight, nine, twelve hours pass without any of those small things that the whole world starts to look a little bleaker than I'd like.
I know a lot of people have disappointment, and don't get the positive feedback they're craving. I know a lot of people suffer a heck of a lot more than I ever have. I know I have control over my own life and what I spend my time doing and how I feel about it. I'm just saying that sometimes, when everyone around you will be lucky to make it through the month, it's hard to remember that life can be about more than the road to eventual suffering.
Hospitals need ball pits and bounce castles. For the doctors.
Posted by Anon MD at 9:08 PM