Wednesday, April 21, 2010


"You can't walk backwards into the future"....... part of the UCB Word for Today this morning. That makes total sense, doesn't it? You can't walk backwards towards something.

That woke you all up. Good morning, all. You may need more coffee. Go on, I will wait.

I was thinking this morning (as I inspected the garden for field mice damage) about how we learn things about people too late. How knowing those things may have changed everything in my attitude towards them. How much my attitude needs adjusting at times. How we make sure people don't get close enough to really know us. How this leaves us isolated in a world few people know the password to, which means they never really enter and understand. And how learning the things which could have made such a difference sometimes only happens at funerals, for goodness sake. When it is way past the "too late" stage.

So I think we need to make sure there are no surprises at our funerals. What earthly (how appropriate is that word right here and now) good is it to find out who I am when I am dead??? I learned at the funeral I went to last week, that the man had lived in dreadful pain for years. Neurological pain. I didn't know. Few did. And that explained so much to me, because I am closely acquainted with neurological pain. And I understood why he had made the choices he did. Only after he died.

However, had I NOT had close acquaintance with neurological pain, I would probably have dismissed his pain as something he needed to get a grip with. Pain is manageable, isn't it, after all? Oh, so swift to judge. So quick to assume. He was like me, you see. And unless you have lived with it, it is unimaginable. Believe me.

There are 2 types of people. Those who, like my father, crush their hands under manholes or break their ankles, and still drive home and sit in a chair and pretend nothing is wrong. And those who get a sniffle and are about to expire from swine flu or pneumonia. Double. I am my father's daughter. To see me is to see "normal". Externally. To be me is to hide what I feel. Try to ignore. Pretend all is well. Imitating ostriches is a great past-time.

I didn't know until this morning, that he lived on morphine, this friend of mine. He too, was like my Dad. He never moaned about pain. He dealt with it in his own way - privately. Internally. Alone. And I know why too - because it makes people uncomfortable to hear things like that. It can become who you are. You see someone who is hurting coming and you tend to avoid eye contact or perhaps cross the road, because you do not necessarily want to become a part of the darker side of life. The hurting part.

And that is totally understandable.

So was his reaction to that. And mine. How are you? Oh I am fine, I say with a grin. Thinking in the head....say nothing and you won't have to go into details which will make their eyes glaze over. It has to be exceptionally bad for me to say I am hurting. I am an expert in this sort of deception, and consequently, my own worst enemy, as my doctors moan. Because I want to be Linds, and not the one who is "sick". Because I am more than the pain. I am ME. And heaven help me if they get all sympathetic and solicitous, because I would either burst into tears or run hobble a mile rather than confront that. So one day, people may sit at my funeral, and will hear that "she lived with constant pain" and will look at each other and say - "Did she? I never realised. It explains so much. I would have understood why she did and said what she did......"

Just like I did last Wednesday. I am not proud of these words. I should have known better.

I would rather the surprises at my funeral be ones like - she learned to fly helicopters at 60. Or she paraglided off an Alp at 56. Or she wrote her first book at 58. Or did you know she actually DID go and lie on the cliff top in Norway and see the Aurora Borealis? Or stuff like that. Mind you, they would not be surprises, because believe me, you would be hearing all about those things AS THEY HAPPENED.

So we talk happily about the good stuff. And we stay silent about the bad stuff. It is the way we are wired. Well, the way I am wired.

Of course, this is just a blog. This is somewhere I write exactly what I choose to write. We all realise that this is simply one dimension of very multi-faceted lives. We do some serious editing along the way, and that is entirely appropriate. But in real life? How much do we keep to ourselves? How much do we let those closest to us really be part of? How honest are we? How many surprises will there be?

I had a very rare peek at my site meter the other day, and every time I write about deeper things, the stats soar. The ordinary? It stays fairly static. I never check the stats. They don't bother me, because they are not why I keep coming back here. The interesting thing though, is that a great many of my friends and family who actually know me in real life, read what I write. They worry about me at times, and they care, and that is wonderful.

You can't walk backwards into the future.

Sometimes, though, you have to stop, and turn around to assess how far you have come. What happens in the past shapes who we are as we face the future, of course. And yes, in my case, there is a great deal of looking backwards, because the whole hospital thing rumbles on at the pace of a comatose snail on crutches. Sometimes it feels as though I am stationary, marking time, watching and waiting and wanting the past to be over and done so that I CAN walk forwards into the future. And at times, I forget that there IS a future ahead too.

The UCB notes didn't end with that quote, by the way. That was the first part of the sentence. It goes on to say ".......and the future God has in mind contains more happiness than any past you can remember."

Thank God.


Chris said...

Let it be so, my friend. Let it be so.

Needled Mom said...

Well....that was deep thinking to start my day off.

We were just saying the other day that we find out so much about people at their funerals.

I also think that people may feel uncomfortable hearing of pains, etc. because they feel so absolutely helpless in finding a way to relieve you of the discomfort. My mom, like you, has had a neurological pain for the last 14 years and no one will ever know. She will not complain and does not want it to become her life. In life there are many pains - physical and emotional and none of us want our lives to consist of pain. Therefore, we try to identify ourselves in other ways - the "feel good" kind. She will always be remembered for her caring and friendships she has shown over her life and I will not be one to remind anyone of her pain she experienced. She would not want anyone to know.

Barbara said...

Good post Linds. It is always good to read when people are being real.

I always told people I was 'fine' and then went away feeling a fraud,not wanting to be less that the image I wanted for myself. Now, depending on the person of course I am more likely to say that I am fine but struggling (with whatever at the moment)I may go on to say 'but I know God is in it and He continues to show me things through it'. Feels more honest and real. Gives people opportunity to pray.

I am sorry to read that you are still in so much pain and will continue to pray for you.

Yes Bekah is 1. Where does the time go? Thanks for comment.

Vee said...

Transparency is difficult for many of us. I am always accused of being vague. I am vague because the truth is a cringy kind of truth and I hate making people cringe. You, on the other hand, are not vague and you say what's on your heart and I'm sure that's why people read what you write.

As for the heavy editing...I'm quite certain that I could have done better with that today. Ha!

Hugs, gentle ones (I have a friend who always yelps, "be gentle"), for you today and can I also slip you some chamomille tea and a chocolate bar?

Kathy said...

The last two paragraphs of this post are so profound and so true for the season of my life also. Thanks for your honesty and praying for your healing.

Dawn said...

Linds, you are such an amazing writer. Your mind just blows me away. I have often said that I wished people could attend their own funerals and hear what wonderful things are said about them. It behooves us to say those things while we still can.

I am so sorry about your pain level. I have a dear friend at church and a brother-in-law who are both in chronic pain, and it is so hard to know what to say to them.

I have kept things inside for so many years, and it was very freeing when I finally shared with many who cared and who knew something was wrong, but didn't know what it was.

I trust the hospital ordeal is resolved soon.

The site meter thing - it is interesting to me that some things I post bring out lots of comments, and others that mean a lot to me don't. Strange.

Becky said...

I'm always learning from you when I come here.

Janine (txmomx6) said...

Great post, Linds.
Thanks for sharing this. :)

Crystal said...

You are one of the most reflective thinkers and writers that I know. Sometimes I feel rather "fluffy" in my writing when I think of your posts. I have yet to tackle such profound topics but you are seriously making me think.

I learn more about you with every post - and I love the person I am growing to know. Thanks!

P.S. You can also see the Aurora Borealis in Alberta :)) If you come, I will take you to Fort McMurray where they are spectacular!

Janine said...

Many a true word, Linds. We never realise how far we have come until we glance behind us. The "I'm fine" response seems to be inbred in us and almost automatic. Luckily for me I have a group of friends that I can say "I'm really NOT fine" to and they respond with compassion.