Boats

I like this boat!

I like this boat!

Living with an ‘invisible’ illness can be difficult to manage sometimes. Sometimes, I feel fine, sometimes not so fine. On the outside, i look fine and i usually act fine, so its hard for other people to know what I am going through. On support group websites and the like I see lots of things like ‘what not to say to someone who has chronic illness’.. .and it will say things like ‘don’t tell me to change my diet or to be positive or i need to exercise more or tell me you are tired too’…. Sometimes i can relate to why these things could be upsetting, but usually they are said with an air of compassion, of trying to help. However, sometimes they are said with blame attached, as if it is all my own fault and if I just exercised and ate more fruit I would be healed. It is the same as telling someone with clinical depression that they just need to snap out of it and just be happy.

I try not to tell anyone how exhausted i am or what pain i may be in (Except my wife and well, i guess everyone reading this,lol!). Everyone has something invisible they are dealing with, and has to work with and might never go away. We are all in the same boat, sometimes the waters are calm and smooth, sometimes they are choppy and scary. But we are all in a boat. And we all have the same destination.

Buddhists are encouraged to meditate in groups…. it is like sailing all our boats together, tying them up and make the stability and direction stronger than the individual boats alone combined. We are social animals, we work best as team-mates. We all experience suffering of one kind or another, so lets join together to end each others suffering. How? Love and understanding. Understand that every person, every being you interact with, has something they are working through, or will have to work through at some time, and that everyone passes away.

A zen teacher once gave a talk about his work in prisons.. with inmates on death row. It was a sobering talk. Then he said something I will never forget… ‘We are all on death row.’ Yeah, of course we are, and we all know that… we will all die someday…. but for me, those words hit home…. and I carry that with me….. So, what do we want to do with our lives?

We are all in the same boat.

The Sun shines after a drizzle filled morning while birds fly passed majestic rainbows. A dead mouse lies on the path and a puppy gives it a good sniff.

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11 thoughts on “Boats

  1. Thanks for your words, which give me inspiration and remind me how we’re all interconnected – yeah all in the same boat!

    I also have a condition which isn’t apparent. I call it my “Rodney Dangerfield Disability” because it doesn’t get much respect. In fact, most of the time I admit my birth defect, many people laugh. Seriously! It’s possible this problem will kill me earlier than someone who isn’t born this way, because I might someday grab the wrong pill or go ahead when other people would know it’s not safe. My disability: Colorblindness. Yes, I dress funny. Yes, people offer many tips to try to fix me. Yes, some people suggest I should just try harder.

    Exactly as you say, we all have our own “defects” or struggles or challenges. It’s hard to know what others are going through or what they’ve done to get to where they are.

    I think it’s why we’re better in social groups or sanghas, so we can learn more about our mutual humanity and develop compassion for others and for ourselves.

    I’m reminded of a song by Peter Mayer: Blue Boat Home. It’s quite a nice melody with an interesting rhythm. Here are a few of the words:

    I give thanks to the waves upholding me
    Hail the great winds urging me on
    Greet the infinite sea before me
    Sing the sky my sailor’s song
    I was born upon the fathoms
    Never harbor or port have I known
    The wide universe is the ocean I travel
    And the earth is my blue boat home.

    Thanks for your inspiring words.

    Vincent

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    • Your welcome, and thank you for sharing your experience. I was just reading about color blindness the other day as the gene involved also makes some people (mainly or exclusively women) see extra colors. They have 4 types of cones in their eyes as opposed to 3 in most people. So they see ultraviolet and the like. It is fascinating. Also, the things that we view that bind us and hold us back, can actually be the greatest gift. My illnesses makes myself more hungry for the Truth, in general terms, and makes me learn more about diet, nutrition etc specifically to name just a couple ways. I know color blind people were recruited for the military because they (you) can distinguish patterns much easier than non colour-blind people, so your ‘disability’ is also a super power! πŸ™‚

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      • I’ve heard some similar things. Thank you. I suppose the real lesson is that our “dis-ability” is actually a “different ability”. For some people, being different triggers feelings of separation or other fears. For others of us, we realize that differences are uniqueness. That uniqueness can be a wonderful and amazing gift, for ourselves and others.
        Vincent

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  2. Getting in touch with our own mortality can be energising…..giving us focus on the wonderful gift of each new day….no matter what pain or upset that day might hold. You’ve written a lovely thought provoking piece here πŸ™‚

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  3. I find that suffering keeps me on track in my practice. One teaching in Buddhism is about being born in a realm where everything is so pleasant beings do not seek the Dharma. Loving Kindness to you.

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    • Thank you for your words. Yes, Seung Sahn taught that a good situation is a bad situation, as the realm you mentioned. He also taught that a bad situation is a good situation, as the suffering you described.

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  4. yes the moment we are born we are born to die.. And I know how hard at times it is to live with something which is invisible.. I came across this film And realised that maybe this for me was what helped my own illness heal as I started to practice Qi Gong of which I think I have spoken of before. But I would do it outside in the summer on the lawn in bare feet.. Now I had not made the connection before until viewing this film yesterday.. The Film is called Grounded.. I hope you enjoy it

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