Bits and Pieces: The Reality We Have

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If we live in the moment, we work with the reality we have. Sounds good, if a bit obvious or perhaps platitudinous. Yet, it seems the way to experience the best of what is being offered.

And if we are not thrilled with the reality we have, we need only remember that like the weather, life is impermanent. It will change; reality will offer other options.

Working with the reality we have is a bit of a slippery slope as joy never seems to stay long enough while pain never seems to leave soon enough.

Reality—the moment–is all we ever have. For however long it lasts, it is for us to do the best we can. Impermanence will do the rest.

Currently, my reality seems as if it is in a holding pattern. Doing the best I can to experience the moment I have, I admit I am often on the lookout for change.

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Recently, I came through cervical myelopathy surgery with remarkable success–truly, there were some unforgettable and stellar moments–but success has shown its shadow.

Success and shadow—as one—make up memory. Always there are moments of both but perhaps only in memory are the two as one.

Memory does not re-create reality. It allows us reflection, a way to wait upon reality, to work with the moment we have.

In shadow, my reality seems a growing force of chronic illness comprised of autoimmune disease, degenerative disc disease, and myelopathy.  There is no complete defeat possible, not physically. That is not my reality in any moment.

Accepting that reduces my suffering and strengthens my resolve to explore the experience I have. By not attaching to the pain as the only reality I will ever know, pain passes like a shadow. Acceptance incites change.

Of course, I am not always as aware or as accepting. Sometimes, I have such an aversion to my reality that I am determined to change it, as if I could. After all, I am not accepting the actual experience. I am only trying to avoid it.

Sometimes, my aversion is quite elaborate, methodical even. Other times, I rush reality for all I am worth with everything within my grasp. I suffer for my indifference to reality. It is as if I am fighting my own biology.

After all, each of my body’s cells works with the state of its reality. Each cell works for balance–aging as well as disease affect this process– yet each cell works with its own unique makeup. It accepts its options.

In working with the reality we have, we accept that moments do not restore each other. They offer us other options, new perspectives on reality that just a moment ago seemed so difficult, even impossible.

Reality is messy that way. It overlaps who we are with who we were just a moment ago, leaving a trail of consequences.

Neither good nor bad, they are reality lived, bits and pieces of experience. Some are stored as success; others slip in as shadow.

The wise adapt themselves to circumstances,

as water molds itself to the pitcher.

Chinese Proverb

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18 thoughts on “Bits and Pieces: The Reality We Have

  1. Ack! You had surgery? Karen, why did I not know this? I obviously am not in the present! Well I am now. I hope you’re on the mend my friend. As you know, I have fellow feeling for your maladies. Living it and living with someone in constant pain. Yes, we have to focus on the present. And your post is a wonderful reminder of that. Sending you warm thoughts and hugs! 🙂


    1. As I have mentioned, so far, the surgery seems the easiest part of all of these changes. Patience with recovery is presenting new challenges, something I know that you know very well. I think of you and yours often. Thanks, Karen.


  2. Aren’t we contrary creatures? When everything around us is in flux, we crave stability. And when stuck in stasis, we crave change. Wishing you the peace provided my moments on the knife’s edge in between the two.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed we are, Kay! To paraphrase Mark Nepo (glad to know you are fan), it is not surprising that we turn away from reality. It is only important that we return to the moment we have. Thanks, Kay.


  3. Your endurance and courage–and rationality humble me. Living in the present is not something you get to consider and practice when the mood strikes. The pain, I think, keeps the present present, and you find ways to accommodate it with grace. Amazing..


    1. For me, being present keeps impermanence in perspective, a way for me to “watch” the pain leave, aware it will return only to leave again. Thanks, Adrian.


  4. “Acceptance incites change.”
    Karen… Thank you for this line… for I have come to experience this piece… then forgotten it…
    and am grateful for the reminder. Blessings on your journey. …from saudi with love, Helena


    1. Currently, patience is my daily issue…. 😉 As I mentioned to Ann, connection rather separation is what relieves suffering. Not suffering is to change one’s relationship with pain. Thanks for the hug and kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. With a chronic illness, sometimes the outrage you speak of in your last post operates to separate us from ourselves. Our own selves! We can be non-attached, but we cannot be separate, can we? I mean in the sense you mention here–all the way to the physical, cellular level of being.

    Your awareness of struggle, and your challenges about accepting struggle, inspire me. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, non-attached but not separate. It seems that the struggle to separate is at the root of our suffering. To a certain extent it may seem counter intuitive to connect to that suffering but in connection, we accept ourselves as we are. I suspect that is how we change our relationship with all pain. Thanks, Ann.


  6. I don’t know where to begin to comment. I think every sentence of this post resonated. I know I’ll keep it and re read it slowly. So often, your posts help me see my reality differently. I’m so glad your surgery went well! Cervical surgery is a frighteningly big deal!


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