Sitting Within the Winds of Change

These last six months I allowed myself to swirl within the currents of change, believing I could harness these winds or at the very least touch them. Such suffering is the stuff of storms, the perfect one always a possibility the longer one remains in flux.

It is within the eye of the storm–stillness surrounded by gale force winds–where suffering ceases. Rarely, do we reach the calm by choice. Usually, some moment grabs us so fiercely we are forced to sit down and look at what is actually occurring.

My suffering stopped when I realized I could no longer walk as I always have. I was in an airport, two thousand miles from home, when I had to look at me as I really am.

Winds of Change 0214

To my mind, I have had a slight limp for a while—over a year, actually—it meant I walk more slowly but nothing more. Frankly, I no longer noticed my limp but it was significant enough that airport security “expedited” me in more than one airport. I took no notice.

It was on my flight home I realized I would not be able to walk the airport. Wheelchair assistance was a necessity. Twice I had to walk the short distance between plane and terminal to get to a wheelchair. Those steps were the most doubtful I have ever taken.

I am finally losing my mobility was my only thought as fourteen years of medical conversations regarding degenerative disease replayed in an infinite loop. As my mind plotted the possibilities, the perfect storm seemed upon me.

 Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished

(Lao Tzu)

I am still sitting within the eye of this storm, in pain, but no longer suffering. I suffered in immersing myself into one “what if” scenario after another, sinking into dramas that may never occur.

Not Yet Spring 0214

Pain is a guarantee that we are alive; it is a sensation sure and pure. To sit within its purity is to detach from its fury, to allow its torrents to rage and overflow without being swept up in suffering.

Leave your front door and back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea

(Shrunyu Suzuki)

We cannot avoid pain, we can only face it. If we do anything less, we suffer as we avoid reality in favor of living in fear fantasies.

I am able to walk, able to go to the grocery store and even to my beloved Waverly to sit and see rather than walk round park and pond. I am able to drive a standard shift car. I limp but I walk.

Nothing has changed and everything has changed. My world is smaller and larger for to sit within the heart of change is to watch within the calm as scenarios rage without ever knowing the light of reality.

It is when we ignore the moment at hand for what might come next that we are least aware and most stuck. We are trying to touch the wind when all we need to do is sit down within the storm’s calm and let it rage.

31 thoughts on “Sitting Within the Winds of Change

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  4. Karen, I’m so happy you are sitting in the eye of the storm, yet I have to say that your post stirred my compassion. I honor your ability to choose to not impale yourself with the “second dart” of suffering. I love the point you make about your world getting smaller, but larger at the same time. I have a feeling that the largeness you have found will exceed any past experience of world. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

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    • Thanks so much, Kozo. That image of the “second dart” of suffering is stunning, probably because it is so accurate. Literally, I can feel past darts. As you say, my world continues to expand. Hugs to you, my friend.
      Karen

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  5. Your thought is so inspiring, Karen. I don’t always comment, but I read all your posts and enjoy a sense of peace in the way you write.

    I just got back from a trip with my family. We went to a wildlife refuge and took many pictures of birds and alligators. I thought of you and all the wonderful photos you include here. {{{Hugs}}}

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    • Hi, Diana!
      I read your posts as well and have been meaning to ask you about a broccoli soup recipe I came across. It is simple and delicious and figured you might have some recommended variations on it. Always appreciate you stopping by and glad you enjoy the posts.
      Karen

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  6. What a beautiful post, Karen. I so admire your courage to find your way to the eye of the storm and acknowledge the existence of the storm while detaching yourself from the violence of the winds that swirl around you. You inspire me continually with the peaceful and intentional way you move through life with so much awareness. Thank you for sharing so openly your wisdom!

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    • Thanks, Kenetha. I think we both get a great deal from each other’s posts. I like to think of our posts as keeping the perspective broad. Your kind words and support are much appreciated.
      Karen

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  7. Today I enjoyed keeping up with a 4-year-0ld at the park and then I led 15 people in an outdoor labyrinth walk, all on a stunningly beautiful day. I am so very grateful. A few months ago I, too, was in the eye of my storm, not at all sure I would ever move easily. I dealt with what was in front of me and slowly got better. And I didn’t give up to my fears and worries.
    Your insights and erodes have helped me so often. Thank you.

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    • You have alluded to stormy times in your posts; often, I think of your courage. In these comments, your words, and Adrian’s, remind me that life occurs in stillness, in the calm of healing to whatever degree that may be. I know it is “aiming for even,” ever aware of the precarious but possible balance that is there. The process is a slow one but I am in no hurry for I have moment after moment to explore. As I say, it is often that I remember your courage. Thank you, Robin.
      Karen

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  8. Truly, you are one of my favorite teachers, Karen. Again.

    Thank you for today’s insight, and… just thank you for being.
    Meredith

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  9. More and more often I am struck by the moment. On Sunday, getting ready for the weekly Front Porch Library gathering I noticed a large bee hovering at the end of the driveway, as if pinned to one place in the air. It was there, almost stationary, for hours, and I’ve seen it again in subsequent days. Stillness–the stillness required to see the bee at the end of the driveway and appreciate it is a great gift. For you that stillness is enforced, but how many people would use it as you do? You have the ability to appreciate the good that comes from limitations. Most people are a neglectful audience when it comes to the wonders all around them. Not you. Enjoy the continuing view of the living world–and drive that standard shift car over here soon.

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    • The awe of the moment continues to mesmerize me as well. Being completely immersed in the stillness is like watching the world unfold in ways that still surprise and delight. The uniqueness of each moment is extraordinary–I agree, Adrian–it is time for tea and talk, too.
      Karen

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  10. Karen,
    The last sentence of this post is so dead on in that all we have to do is sit and be calm while the storm rages. I love that. I will keep that in my thoughts to remember file for the next time I feel in the midst of my own storm. Funny how life/changes have a way of creeping up on us and we don’t see it until it is ready to present itself. I admire how you look to your practice to keep you going in the most challenging circumstances. I am a big “what if” thinker and that causes me to spiral so I am working on not feeding into that energy but instead, staying present. Thank you for always being an open book and just know, your experiences resonate with me and I’m sure, others. Be well, my friend.

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    • As you and Lao Tzu say, “nature does not hurry”; staying present may help us be ready for when change appears. I have found that the more present I am, the less I suffer from drama scenarios. It really is that basic. Being completely present does not allow for one toe to step outside the moment. I find that absolutely fascinating. Thanks so much, Stephanie.
      Karen

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  11. Karen, life has so clearly thrown some of the most difficult challenges in your direction, and yet your philosophy towards it – the sense of hope that your words carry through the adversity – shines through. As does your inner strength. I am humbled by your courage in facing your challenges this way – and in sharing your journey with people around the world, through your blog. There is a community around the world who your words touch, and who are with you on the journey you are sharing with us. Kia Kaha (ever be strong/our thoughts are with you).

    Matthew

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    • Through your blog my world expands continuously as I learn about physics, life in New Zealand now as well as then, and your practical posts on writing seem to appear just when I need them. Kia Kaha, how beautiful, Matthew; thank you for every word.
      Karen

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  12. Inspirational and humbling – it’s so important to remember that we can (try to) choose not to suffer, to accept what is possible. Many thanks and hugs

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    • “Try to” may be more apt for in not every moment am I present yet “being in the moment” has made such a difference! When I catch myself scenario-building, I leave it, which is new for me. Slowly, it is becoming apparent that remaining present provides comfort, even in pain. Thanks so much.
      Karen

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  13. Karen, this walking essay was written about the same time as your trip years ago to Washington crossed my mind. We did a lot of walking around Georgetown, including taking — as a shortcut — a “path” that was clearly marked on my map. About halfway there, the path petered out. I can still hear your voice: “We’re walking on roots, Jane. Roots!”

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    • My dear Ms.Case, your comment has kept a smile on my face all day long. What a great memory that day is for me, a lifelong favorite. I know it was years ago but it remains so fresh, and it means a great deal that you, too, get joy from remembering. My heart is full. Thank you, Jane.
      Karen

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  14. This one brought me to tears, Karen. I often feel as though there are parallels between your life and mine — though I’m inclined to think your writing is universal and strikes many people as such. You and your writing are breathtakingly beautiful. Sending you love and light.

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    • Many times I, too, have felt the parallels, August. Your generosity and loving spirit have made many moments easier for me. Your support of my writing and this blog means a great deal. Thanks so much, August.
      Karen

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  15. This was a much needed reminder to enjoy the current moment, rather than worry about what is to come. As independent women, we both have had to face this year what is to me at least, my worst fear: physical limitation when there is still so much I want to experience. To turn this fear into a world “both smaller and larger,” is a thought that rings both true and comforting. I’m thinking of you, Karen, and rooting for us both to embrace the possibilities instead of the limitations.

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    • That we are writers is what gives us both an advantage, I suspect. You explore the world through stories while I explore it from within my own story. Nonetheless, we keep exploring so any world–the physical or the one in the mind–keeps expanding infinitely with possibility. In this moment, we are on a very similar path.
      Karen

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  16. I always want to post a reply but you always leave me kind of speechless. I am a sinker into dramas which may never occur – such a waste of energy and time and peace of mind. The idea of sitting down in the calm while the storm rages is simply beautiful. Much love. xo

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