This month, so much was beyond my control and comprehension, that everyday felt like a fight to keep my head above water. My husband and I have been together for almost 17 years; We have been through multiple deployments and separations due to the military, and none those hard times compared to the last few weeks. Everything in my life felt like it was coming crashing down, and I felt helpless to control any of it; to prevent any of it. I was consistently reminded I cannot control what happens to me, or around me. There is an infinite number of things outside of my control. Bad things happen. Hard times happen. I cannot control much; But I can control how I react. I can control my reactions. I can control my emotions. I can feel them, acknowledge them, and I can choose whether or not to give in to these emotions. This isn’t faking it, this isn’t burying emotions, it is accepting that which is within my control and that which is not.
I failed. This past month, with my happiness project, I failed in almost every way. I didn’t read everyday like I planned. I didn’t meditate, or take cold showers. I didn’t eat healthy, at times I hardly at all. My topic this month was to embrace life, and love my fate; amor fati. I failed. I spent most of the month of October, especially the last few weeks running on hospital coffee and prayer. Praying life would change; praying our circumstances around our home would change; Praying for my husband’s healing and safety.
It’s been a long month; a month that came out of nowhere, and in hindsight was right in front of me, if only I’d been able to see the signs. The month did not go as I planned, as it is with most things in life. We had big plans for the month, exciting events with my husbands career, our first kid free weekend, since we have had children, my sisters wedding. Unfortunately none of those events played out like I envisioned. Over the last 30 days, we had six trips to the ER, multiple night stays in the hospital, and countless tests to determine the root cause of his chest pain. I learned more about cardiac testing in the past month, than I ever cared to learn. And during each test, I found myself praying they wouldn’t find anything wrong and yet also praying they would find the cause of the episodes which would shake our family to it’s core.
I’m currently reading The Obstacle is the Way and right now I believe I was introduced to this book, and this concept, because it was exactly what I needed during this time. In the book, the author writes of an old Zen story of a king and his desire to test the subjects in his kingdom. The king placed a boulder in the middle of the main road into the city, completely blocking the path; he then waited to watch what his subjects would do. How would they react? Unfortunately, as he watched hidden out of site, most of the citizens only complained or just half-hardheartedly tried to move the boulder, only to give up and turn around. Finally, one peasant came along and refused to give up until he leveraged the boulder out of the path. Buried under the boulder was a purse of gold and a note from the king “The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle in an opportunity to improve our condition.“
Over the past few weeks, this story has stuck with me. Instead of trying to find a way around our troubles, sometimes you have to fight like hell and get through the fire, in order to get to really good stuff. When you get there, and you’re on the other side of it, that’s where growth happens, and happiness, and love and authenticity. The past few weeks, our family and friends have worked like hell to help us move that boulder, to find a way through the obstacle, and not just skirt around it. And I believe in my heart the boulder is finally rolling. I think we are clearing a path to treasure greater than gold; health, happiness and authenticity. As that path clears, as the fog clears, and we gain greater perspective of this entire terrifying situation, and realize we have a long way to go; I just remember to keep breathing. Sometimes life is just moving forward, one moment at a time, one breath at a time. It’s taking those six deep breaths that has let me keep moving forward, keep fighting, and keep faith. It’s taking those slow, deep breaths, that gives me the pause and clarity to remember that although I can’t control much; I can control my breath; I can control my reactions, and I can keep moving.