“What’s reality?” 9 year old John asks me this morning as he looks up from his graphic novel, Dogman.
I freeze a little. Well, I’m actually already frozen because the tissue inside of my shoulder blade HURTS LIKE THE DICKENS. It is cranky beyond words upon awakening today. Definitely a full out 10 rating on the pain scale whenever I move. My breath is caught and I. Am. Stuck.
It sucks because reality is that the plan for my day did not call for this surprise visitor of pain. I have kids to take to school, clients to see, a therapy appointment 30 minutes away in Chapel Hill, more kids to pickup from school and meals to figure out.
And yet, reality now is this moment.
Intense, excruciating pain that has me stuck on the floor and with any small movement, I gasp for oxygen.
So, yes, it sucks hugely.
The Buddha said something along the lines of “Pain is non-negotiable. It will happen.”
It is happening alright.
AND, it is actually all good.
Because the Buddha had more to say.
The Buddha also said that suffering is optional.
And the way to check the “No thank you on an order of suffering” box, is by letting go of what we think should be and arriving in what Is.
This pain I’m experiencing is in and out, sharp and burning, licking and splitting. But it isn’t constant. Its texture is different depending upon my position. Its intensity shifts depending upon the choices I make here on the floor.
I think of my go-to question in times of high stress and translate it now to this physical load:
What do I need in this moment?
Sigh. Yup, I get it. It is true that I do have the choice to power through my old plan for the day and make it all happen come hell or high water.
Or I can stop the struggle here and now. I can lie on the floor and breathe. I can let my kids place their hands on my ribs and remind me to soften as I am able. I can text a friend to ask that she drive carpool this morning. I can tell my dear clients that I need to cancel their sessions. I can text my therapist and tell her my predicament and offer fairness and request a reschedule.
I can be here and breathe.
I can see my children surrounding me. Loving me. Butterflies adoring their flower. I can text my husband and hear his compassion in a simple word, “Sorry.” I can wait for the Advil to kick in and then make tea and Ayurvedic takra to nourish me. I can text my acupuncturist to see if she has availability to see my today.
I can. I can. I can.
I cannot tell this pain to turn off with a switch. But I can absolutely love it and respond to it and give it what it is asking for. And within those offerings, I can nourish gratitude and joy for the infinite number of options to settle in and care for sweet, over eager, and beautiful Me.
So, it sucks for sure to hurt.
And it is freeing beyond words to embrace choice.
To love me.
To be honest.
To be human.
Later, there will be reflection on what brought me to this point of excruciating pangs of protest from my body. And after that there will be refinement of how I do things in the future to stop myself before the battleship of my body is sinking into the depths of the Mariana Trench of pain. But all that is to come.
Right now, I settle into what Is.
And I respond to John,
“Reality is what is real, John.”
“Oh.” he says.
May we all be well,