I like this quote as well ‘the world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at their broken places‘ We are all very familiar with adversity and challenges. Our health is a constant challenge. It also creates constant challenges within our life when it comes to interactions with the rest of the world through the workplace and friends and family. It is what it is. I have in the past overcome situations and come out the other side completely empowered by it, changed in very positive ways that changed the course of my life. I have also been completely crushed by pain and adversity, but that taught be some valuable lessons as well about pain, about limits and about the difference between what the world wants and what I can endure. In the first case, I bloomed, in the second, I’m stronger in my broken places. Perhaps with chronic pain we know a little more about physical suffering than we ever should know and more about other suffering than we will ever want to know. I don’t think that makes us particularly unique, since the world knows plenty about suffering. I just think it makes us particularly broken and stronger in those broken places. So it is both true and false. We bloom. We break.
I bloom best when my pain is managed. Simple as that. If I can find a balance I can hope and aspire. I can create and dream. I don’t fall off cliffs or want to jump off them.
It reminds me of Nietzsche in Thus spake Zarathustra in a weird way… even though that isn’t the intent. I got what the man was saying, but at the same time even at the time I initially read it eons ago, hard not to see it as a personal struggle against pain, society and stigma.
“Three metamorphoses of the spirit do I designate to you: how the spirit becometh a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.
Many heavy things are there for the spirit, the strong load-bearing spirit in which reverence dwelleth: for the heavy and the heaviest longeth its strength.
What is heavy? so asketh the load-bearing spirit; then kneeleth it down like the camel, and wanteth to be well laden.
What is the heaviest thing, ye heroes? asketh the load-bearing spirit, that I may take it upon me and rejoice in my strength.
Is it not this: To humiliate oneself in order to mortify one’s pride? To exhibit one’s folly in order to mock at one’s wisdom?
Or is it this: To desert our cause when it celebrateth its triumph? To ascend high mountains to tempt the tempter?
Or is it this: To feed on the acorns and grass of knowledge, and for the sake of truth to suffer hunger of soul?
Or is it this: To be sick and dismiss comforters, and make friends of the deaf, who never hear thy requests?
Or is it this: To go into foul water when it is the water of truth, and not disclaim cold frogs and hot toads?
Or is it this: To love those who despise us, and give one’s hand to the phantom when it is going to frighten us?
All these heaviest things the load-bearing spirit taketh upon itself: and like the camel, which, when laden, hasteneth into the wilderness, so hasteneth the spirit into its wilderness.
But in the loneliest wilderness happeneth the second metamorphosis: here the spirit becometh a lion; freedom will it capture, and lordship in its own wilderness.
Its last Lord it here seeketh: hostile will it be to him, and to its last God; for victory will it struggle with the great dragon.
What is the great dragon which the spirit is no longer inclined to call Lord and God? “Thou-shalt,” is the great dragon called. But the spirit of the lion saith, “I will.”
“Thou-shalt,” lieth in its path, sparkling with gold–a scale-covered beast; and on every scale glittereth golden, “Thou shalt!”
The values of a thousand years glitter on those scales, and thus speaketh the mightiest of all dragons: “All the values of things–glitter on me.
All values have already been created, and all created values–do I represent. Verily, there shall be no ‘I will’ any more. Thus speaketh the dragon.
My brethren, wherefore is there need of the lion in the spirit? Why sufficeth not the beast of burden, which renounceth and is reverent?
To create new values–that, even the lion cannot yet accomplish: but to create itself freedom for new creating–that can the might of the lion do.
To create itself freedom, and give a holy Nay even unto duty: for that, my brethren, there is need of the lion.
To assume the right to new values–that is the most formidable assumption for a load-bearing and reverent spirit. Verily, unto such a spirit it is preying, and the work of a beast of prey.
As its holiest, it once loved “Thou-shalt”: now is it forced to find illusion and arbitrariness even in the holiest things, that it may capture freedom from its love: the lion is needed for this capture.
But tell me, my brethren, what the child can do, which even the lion could not do? Why hath the preying lion still to become a child?
Innocence is the child, and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self- rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy Yea.
Aye, for the game of creating, my brethren, there is needed a holy Yea unto life: ITS OWN will, willeth now the spirit; HIS OWN world winneth the world’s outcast.
Three metamorphoses of the spirit have I designated to you: how the spirit became a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.–
Thus spake Zarathustra.”
So we know all about Adversity. We know the Camel that is burdened by the shackles of our pain and limitations. We kneel down and take this burden with a smile and try to keep on working because it is what it not only demanded of us by our obligations but expected of us by society. So we try and dance in those heavy chains. The stigma is an extra weight on there that we are expected to tolerated… it is just pain… it is just ‘headaches’. We should have the wisdom to know when the burden is to heavy but we have been taught to just keep carrying it such that we struggle to do so even if we shouldn’t. The pain weighs us down. Obligations weigh us down. Words weigh us down. We don’t know which weight we should not carry and which we should lighten we only know that we are told we must carry them all.
We know Adversity when the Lion says Enough and has the audacity to fight for our rights as an employee and as a patient. To say that We have Value. That our struggle Means something. ‘Thou-shalt’ and all those values we believe we must have to be functional members of society and all those stigmas that insist if we do not be as everyone else there is something wrong with us or we are of less value… we cast off, deny, re-shape into our own beliefs about ourselves until it becomes ‘I will’. I will and I am. It means we will fight and fighting means all sorts of things. Overcoming all sorts of adversity. With our job, with our health care, with our personal health challenges. We all know this sense of fighting spirit within. Sometimes it can create great change and sometimes the burden and stigmas we face can weigh us back down and we have to survive to fight another day. But there is an immense sense of freedom when you take your health into your own hands and successfully make changes that make a difference. Usually… it is somewhere between the two, we survive in the little steps.
The child… is that sense of a new beginning and success you get when terrible adversity has passed. You have the freedom it feels to direct your own fate again. Acceptance, for sure, but that new possibilties are there, new goals attainable, new hope on the horizon.
But… the child is innocence and we can’t stay innocent and we become the camel again, because for us adversity is always there and coping is a constant fluctuating thing. The eternal return of the same.