Clarity, that feeling of peace inside, of comprehension, of acceptance of what is and what will be, often comes in our darkest hour, or in darkness itself. It hides from the light of day, and waits for the dark of night, before revealing itself to us. We grasp it gently, lest it be lost, and hope to hold onto it, inside, hold on to the peace of mind, of spirit, that comes with that singularity that is clarity.
There has been much darkness in my life of late, in a very literal fashion, as increasing sound and light sensitivity has driven me to hide myself away in my room. There, in the dim light, but with eyes closed against even that, I have been working the beads for a necklace. My bed smells of the gently sanded amber, a sweet smell, the smell of the ancient, forgotten and lost world of millions of years ago; the scent of trees now extinct, but who live on in the shining golden light reflected in amber.
Alone in the dark and quiet, alone with the amber, I have come face to face with myself, with my life, my body, my health, and some things that I did not understand, or been able to accept, have finally become clear.
Clarity. Peace of mind, of heart, of soul. Acceptance of the illness that has ravaged my life and my body for many, many years. For two decades.
I knew acceptance was the key to living well despite chronic illness; you read that everywhere, and wise people tell you that, but how to accept the loss of so very much, how to do that, has eluded me. I could not make the body-mind-spirit connection.
At first glance you might think acceptance means “giving up” and waiting to die.
That was my stumbling block – how did I accept without giving in, giving up? That sounds like a very bad thing to us, who are taught that illness is somehow related to mental weakness, and that we must fight fight fight to the very end, to the very last breath.
But I now understand that is not the case at all.
Acceptance is simply knowing, inside, where it really counts:
This place, where I am right now, today, with my health or lack thereof, is where I am today, and that’s okay.
This place may be the best there will be for the rest of this life, and that’s okay. Things might get worse, and that’s okay, too.
This place, this day, this moment in time, may be all there is for this life, so I had better relish it, pain or no pain – relish it all.
This life could end in the space of a heartbeat, for anyone, whether healthy or chronically ill, and whether I think I am ready for it to end or not, so I may as well get myself ready: make peace within & without, and everyday tell the important people in my life that I love them, because I might not get another chance.
Who I am is gonna be okay, no matter what happens.
Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up. It doesn’t mean you stop looking for ways to return to health.
It means you stop fighting, stop struggling, and get on with the business of living your life, even if you have limitations you didn’t expect or want.
Acceptance is saying “I’m okay,” and really meaning it.
Ten or so years ago I had my first massage session with one of the few people I’ve ever met who I would ever call truly wise. His name is Karl, and after working on my knotted & tense body for an hour or two, he left me a limp puddle. When I could bring myself to move again (I could have floated in that amazing place of relaxation forever), I got dressed, and he met me at the door on my way out.
Karl gently told me two things I never forgot, as I left that day.
The first was that he gets feelings & impressions when he works on someone, and he thought the first thing I should do was decide if I wanted to be here or not – that my soul was only loosely attached to my body because despite being around 40 years old, I’d never quite decided. I was absolutely shocked & astounded, because this was absolutely true, and yet was something I’d never dared tell anyone, and never even really admitted to myself.
The second thing he told me was that he had many clients with chronic illness, but the ones who did the best were the ones that accepted that they were ill and may not get physically better. Those who could come to the point of acceptance sometimes had incredible improvements in their health, though some did not. Either way, they were better off, and acceptance was the key.
It has taken me ten years, nearly, and as usual, I had to find my way to true understanding on my own. No articles ever helped – they sometimes just confused me more.
Remember that amber I told you about sanding? That amber was my key. I did a meditation and journey with the amber, and “visited” the world where it was formed. Amber is tree resin – that obnoxious sticky stuff you get on your hand when you reach out and touch a pine tree (I bet you thought that was sap since I did, too, but resin differs in that it’s on the outside of the tree).
That sticky resin became amber over the course of 20 to 200 million years. The trees it came from are long extinct. And yet, the amber continues.
Why did this matter? Because I believe there is no life that does not have a soul or spirit to animate it. Not a blade of grass. Not a dog or cat or caribou. Our souls go from one life to the next and the next and the next.
True life – the life of our soul – never ends.
This life, this one where I have struggled & fought against chronic illness for 20 years, is but one of many. A precious gift, not to be wasted – instead, I needed to see it in perspective, see & feel the immense and grand sweep of time that life has existed on our beautiful Mother Earth, and see this one life for what it really is: a classroom. A place I came to learn important lessons as my soul evolves & grows.
Lessons like acceptance, and finding clarity in darkness.
Finally, I understand.
5 thoughts on “Acceptance: Clarity Comes In Darkness”
Absolutely Beautiful Ash! Thank you for writing this and for sharing it with the world. I love the way you weaved the amber (and you sanding it) into this story of acceptance and the circle of life. You and your writing are treasures, like the amber and all the life that is flowing, as you sand away the sharp edges of a history.
Your friend, Michelle.
What a beautiful way you have with words, Michelle! Thank you for your encouragement, your friendship & caring, thoughtful way. You are a truly beautiful spirit, inside & out. I’m honored to be your friend.
Much love, many gentle hugs, and wishes for more peace & harmony in your life,
I totally understand where you’re coming from here. I don’t know that there was one single moment when I realized I wasn’t going to get better – it was a long process – and I don’t remember when I came to accept that I was going to be sick for the rest of my life, but it’s enormously freeing to get there. It’s not that I’ve stopped treatment – I do all sorts of things to give my body the best resources I can – but I realize there may never be a magic bullet.
I think this is one of the things that most amazes people from the outside, because it seems like they see that I’m terribly sick and yet I’m pretty happy, and not having the experience themselves, they don’t quite know how to parse it. They think I must have some remarkable gift of bravery to feel that way, and they find it quite inspirational. But the truth is, as I say to people, you’d be surprised what you can get used to – and when you do, you figure out that you might as well set the crap aside as much as possible and use what’s left to get some enjoyment out of life.
Well put, Jocelyn! You are a remarkable person, really, as many, getting so very sick so young, would have turned bitter. But you learned to go with the flow, and accepted the hand you’d been dealt much faster than I did. I’ve always been a bit too stubborn for my own good!
Ash, this post hit home for me, as I’ve been dealing with a lot of these issues lately (as you saw from my blog). There’s a lot to explore on your blog, so i’m going to take my time with it over the next few weeks. I’m glad I found it and I’m adding it to my blog roll.
See you around