Zen & The Art of Alzheimer’s
Daily Zen – Accept Where You Are
I am a real believer of living powerfully in reality. But, to do that, one must accept reality as it is. And, to do that, one must not make it mean anything.
Example: the sky is just blue. It is not blue to offend you. It is not blue to make you happy. Blue doesn’t inherently mean anything, it is just blue. And it is not orange, or green, or red.
This goes for your dementia, and this goes for your spiritual path. Accepting where you are in things, and not needing to make it more or less than what it is, and not needing to make it mean anything…but just letting it be where you are at the moment, and being ok with that…is key to your happiness.
It is also the key to living powerfully with the disease….and with the real reality of the disease, not necessarily with the “believed” reality of the disease.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind the disease so much or what it has done to my life, near as much as what people “believe” about the disease in me…which I find I don’t like much at all. Which is a real conundrum for my spiritual practice, because how do I accept that I have become *that* to you…when I am not *that*? How do I live in the I am *that* to you…when I am not *that*? And, perhaps more importantly, how do I protect myself from slipping into your view, and inadvertently become *that* if I allow you to see me as *that* which I am not? And, with the disease raging havoc in my brain, *how* do I keep those things sorted out?
The first reaction of being confronted with another’s false view of me, because of the diagnosis, is usually one of hey wait a minute, I am not that. It never fails to cause me to feel removed from the situation. Others think they are interacting with *that*, but really I am *this* – so it is not me that they are interacting with. And I feel alone.
When I can get some distance, I can take a deep breath and reflect a little, and realize that there is no way to change this – but to change it by sharing the *this* that is really me. The reality of me contradicts the illusion of what people think someone with the disease should be like. But I am not the disease, I never was…I was always me, and I just happen to also have the disease. It is a companion to my life, not unlike my beloved dog is. It is something I have to learn to live with, and to become at peace with, and overcome the difficulties it presents me.
The next reaction I have is to form a plan of action, of how I am going to meet this, yet another difficulty – other’s perceptions of what they believe the disease does. But in this forming of a plan of action, I am confronted again with the ravages of this disease and I struggle to make my brain work – and I need it to work better, and faster…because I know I know this stuff, and I know I used to be able to do this stuff…and yet, here I am struggling.
Again, I take a deep breath and with some distance, reflect. And I meander the pathways in my brain, sometimes for days…until I return to the place I used to reside at…and accept. To just simply accept that this struggle is where I am at. It is not more or less than what it is. It doesn’t mean anything about me. It doesn’t necessarily fit others beliefs, but it IS just what is.
And in accepting that this struggle is just where I am at right now, I come to a space of deep compassion for my brain…and compassion for my dying body, and a deep love and appreciation for all it is still doing. This experience of acceptance, compassion, and the resulting peace transcends other’s beliefs…leaving them distant muffled noises that are hard to make out. And I am again centered where I thrive.
Until I venture out into the world again, and again I am confronted with another’s belief about what the disease should be in me…and this starts all over again.
Such is my path.
Copyright November 8, 2015, all rights reserved.