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Archive | December, 2005

It’s Good To Get Sick Sometimes

As much as I enjoy the annual visit from Santa, this year he left us a rather unsavory gift – the stomach flu. Fortunately, he was nice about it and left us the kind that has the courtesy to wait until the stroke of midnight on December 26 before inflicting damage. It managed to hit nearly everyone of us (eighteen in number) within a 48 hour period. The only two to escape the bug’s wrath were my daughters who stayed well only because they had had it the week before.

Unlike most of my family, I didn’t spend most of the time in the bathroom throwing up. I was nauseous, but I have the kind of stomach that selfishly wants to keep whatever it has. The real kick in the pants for me was the body aches, particularly in my knees and back. So, it was a welcome relief to feel 85% better the next day. As I was enjoying a cup of early morning coffee (after I slept most of the previous day away, I was more than happy to wake up at 5am), it struck me how appreciative I was to be feeling healthy. It’s like the old song line: “You don’t know what you got until its gone.”

And it’s also a main principle of my personal philosophy: to know one thing, we must know its opposite. It’s the natural yin and yang of our humanity. Too often, though, we only want to know what the sunny side of the hill looks like and deny that there is the darkness of the shaded side. It’s natural to want to avoid pain, sorrow, even our inclinations toward our less noble qualities. But does this truly honor ourselves? Does this avoidance lead to a better life?

I think back to those moments in my own life which are painful: getting the emotional crap kicked out of me in high school, getting rejected by a job which I thought I had “in the bag,” suffering a debilitating anxiety attack at a relative’s wedding. Would I want to relive any of these moments? I’d be a liar if I said I would. Yet, each one has offered me an opportunity to experience my own humanity and to better recognize love, joy, and success. Sometimes bad things happen to good people so they can be better people.

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The Power Of Our Common Bonds

Tammy Lenski writes about her most recent experience as a volunteer for the Best Friends Animal Society and their efforts in the Hurricane Katrina area. The temporary sanctuary/triage unit/field hospital/reunification center just north of the Louisiana border in Tylertown, Mississippi has attracted volunteers throughout the country. In a battered place with far from optimal conditions, one might expect to see all kinds of conflict. She noted that none was to be found. In Tammy’s reflection for why this was, she writes:

It’s the power of feeling passionately about why we were there. The power of believing, first and foremost, that our mission was to help these animals, and understanding implicitly that having our own way or convincing someone else that we’re right or the righteousness of feeling tread upon were all less important than keeping these animals alive, helping them heal, and helping them find home again.

And later:

It’s surprisingly easy to set differences aside when we’re focused on what brings us together.

Sometimes it amazes me what petty and minor strife we allow into our relationships. We let the most foolish of things drive wedges between us and our loved ones. We cling to our few competing differences like there’s no tomorrow and forsake the many heartful similarities that bind our hopes and dreams.

None of this is to say that I’m without my own problems on this issue. I have my own family squabbles friendly flare-ups to contend with. Yet, there’s something in Tammy’s post that has nudged me toward a deeper reflection. I find myself asking why its so much easier to get attached to our differences of opinion rather than the similarities.

Whatever the answers, I honestly believe the power and spirit lies in those common bonds that bring us together.

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