“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” So Charles Dickens begins A Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859. As I look back on my life, I discover the same thing. Each phase is made up of both good and bad experiences, and what we take from both becomes our wisdom.
I spent two months in California, and during the first half I was very sick. When life reduces you to journeying between bed and bathroom, couch and bathroom, and outside to take the dog potty and bathroom, you feel very low. All you can do is grimly hang on and pray. Life is reduced to its barest parameters. When I finally began to feel better, I was very grateful for small things, like being able to eat again, the taste of food, having my grandson cuddle beside me for a story, the smell of flowers, the sound of the waves crashing on the sand, and the feel of raindrops on my skin. I sat outside and let the warm sunshine soak into my body. I noticed the brilliant colors and wonderful variety of the flowers, plants, and trees, and I saw how beautiful this world is. I appreciated the kindness of others and the love shown to me, especially by my son and daughter-in-law. I also was very thankful that I could read. I was so grateful for the abundance and availability of good books (I had my Nook with me). There’s nothing like a good romance, fantasy, or adventure to take your mind off how miserable you feel. Another thing that got me through this time was music. While lying there feeling terrible, I would ‘play’ music in my mind. I was intensely grateful for beautiful music of all types, from children’s music to hymns to classical to popular music, that I was able to access at a mere thought. (I was also grateful that I lost that extra ten pounds, but I wouldn’t recommend the method!) Good books, music, food, beauty in nature, and the love of dear ones: these are things that make life worth living, and I am grateful for their presence in my life.