Life: A Chronic Condition

Life as a condition generally denotes the state of being human but when health is implied, the meaning involves a defective state. Thus, considering life as chronic implies a wearing away, a wearing down.

Often, I use “chronic illness” to describe my health, although it makes me wince. I am no more an illness than I am a writer, a family member, a friend or a neighbor, although I have met each of these conditions with joy and sorrow, success and failure, the usual mixed bag that is life.

Life with conditions resembles what the Buddhists call clinging, attaching ourselves to this or that. We rarely regard reliving a fond memory as clinging but it is; Michael Singer describes this fondness as “I don’t want this one to go away… I want to keep reliving that moment” forever attached, completely embedded.

Just as chronically, we eschew those memories that are less than fond, even though they are always readily available. From those moments we cannot run fast or far enough, unaware we are on a treadmill of attachment incapable of escaping what we know.

Ironically, a shift in our attention from the known to the unknown of awareness frees us. Being in the moment switches off that treadmill, shuts down that memory to experience what always is, the freedom that is in every moment we ever have. Conditions result from experience but in the moment—the state of being– there are no conditions only creations. Chronically, life is; only we attach.

The ancient traditions teach us that everlasting joy is inevitable when we stop pushing away or holding onto life. The freedom integral to peace and contentment is available in every moment. In truth, freedom requires risk and risk resides in the unknown, not exactly comfortable conditions, or has our chronic response to risk become comfortable.

Embracing risk feels as if we are opening ourselves to each and every moment changing us—we are–as if risk were a mere matter of inhaling and exhaling—it is, if we focus. In a mere matter of a breath, consider the strength of a sigh, an exhaling of what is no longer necessary.

Almost any form of meditation considers the breath. In learning to meditate, I focused on inhaling and exhaling and discovered the pause in between. As basic as the pause is, I had never considered it. Only recently did I realize my daily meditation practice has immersed itself into my daily life: inhaling and exhaling, I release all-too-familiar conditions, as if I were sweeping 10,000 rooms daily, which I do.

For me, it was chronically easy to cling to conditions in the belief they secure one’s life. Labels–gender, occupation, health, neighborhood location–categorize life, as if the familiar confines could stay the constancy of change. I spent a lot of my life that way but I admit to a fascination with risk, which has always served me.

It has taken most of my lifetime to realize that joy, love, compassion, and gratitude are chronically inherent in the risk that is life. These emotions eschew the ego and all of its conditions; these emotions launch us out of ourselves into all of life. They are worth every moment of risk.

16 thoughts on “Life: A Chronic Condition

  1. I wondered over to visit you today. I knew I would be able to breathe slower, smile, and just be in this place of your making. I love how your blog has transformed. Your words flow through me, your flowers bring beauty to the page, your soul shines through it all. I think of you often.


  2. Hi Karen – yet another very thoughtful post, thank you. I often feel that society has a tendency to define people by their health issues, or by some other facet – and this, in reality, may not define them at all.

    I’m delighted to be able to pass on the Reality Blog award to you – and I think you have, indeed, captured a very vital part of the human reality in what you’re sharing with us. Thank you so much for that!


    1. Thanks so much, Matthew! Truly, I’m honored and humbled. Frankly, your passing along this award has provided me tomorrow’s blog topic as well as given me another perspective on why I blog. Again, thank you.



  3. Attaching or detaching? I have no idea which I am doing more vigorously. I often succeed in being intensely present, loving this earth moment by moment, but I know that life is something I cling to with a fierce tenacity. I don’t question this arrangement, It feels like happiness.


  4. Lovely, calming, thoughtful post.Wonderful pictures. Thank you.

    I wonder what the world would be like if we all could appreciate moments as temporary conditions?
    Oh, wait…I wonder what my world would be like if I could appreciate each moment as a temporary condition? 🙂 Working on it!!


    1. Hi, Deb!

      So glad you enjoyed the post and the pictures. As you say, I wonder what life would be like if we all could appreciate moments as temporary conditions within and without? I really like the question.



  5. Lovely post, Karen. I, too, have had to learn to let go of many things and embrace risk. And generally the risks I’ve taken have given me the most. This line says it all: joy, love, compassion, and gratitude are chronically inherent in the risk that is life.


    1. Hi, Lynette!

      Glad you enjoyed the post. For me, letting go is getting easier and easier–age may have something to do with that–although I like to think that it really is easier. Thanks for stopping by.



  6. This came as a positive jolt to bring me out of my negative thoughts this morning – very welcome and rewarding, so thank you again Karen. I love that quote from Sigrun too!


    1. Those negative thoughts are quite the energy drain, aren’t they? As you say, it takes a bit of a jolt to get those positive vibes in the mix. Hope you have had a good week.



  7. Beautiful Karen!
    It made me think of these words by Jack Kornfield:
    “In the end, just three things matter:
    How well we have lived
    How well we have loved
    How well we have learned to let go”


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