Pair O' Dime Shift 12 ~ A Cup Full of Empty
Sometimes Your Cup is Empty in a Life With Chronic Pain
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Anyone who has ever traveled with small children and juice cups knows; what goes in must come out. Our intake into our lives, whether it is food, behavior, what we read and who we hang with, are all part of who we are. All day long it’s intake and output. This is one of the reasons 24 hour television news can be too much intake. We can’t survive this way of life is we fill our “cups” with murder, mayhem and doom. Take a break once in a while to fill yourself with nourishment that comes from a beautiful landscape, a photo from your past, a hug from a child or a big fat gooey hot fudge sundae. There is so much in life that is good.
It’s so easy to forget the pleasant, the beautiful and the uplifting as we pour the contents of our cups onto the ground. We fill our lives and time with doctor’s appointments, self-pity, too much TV and soaking up the negative side of life. Sure, there’s a lot of it out there but you don’t have to “drink it.” How do you fill your cup when it’s dry and empty? Let me share a few ideas with you, okay?
Be Creative: In his book,An Anatomy of Illness,Norman Cousins talks about his friend Albert Schweitzer. Cousins states, “Albert Schweitzer always believed that the best medicine for any illness he might have was the knowledge that he had a job to do, plus a good sense of humor. He once said that the disease tended to leave him rather rapidly because it found so little hospitality inside his body. The essence of Dr. Schweitzer was purpose and creativity. All his multiple skills and interests were energized by a torrential drive to use his mind and body. To observe him at work at his hospital in Lambarene was to see human purpose bordering on the supernatural. During an average day at the hospital, even after he turned ninety, he would attend to his duties at the clinic and make his rounds, do strenuous carpentry, move heavy crates of medicine, work on his correspondence (innumerable letters each day), give time to his unfinished manuscripts, and play the piano. ‘I have no intention of dying’, he once told his staff, ‘so long as I can do things. And if I do things, there is no need to die. So I will live a long, long time.’ And he did—until he was ninety-five.”
Certainly, if the great Dr. Schweitzer could ease his many responsibilities with music therapy and a good, finely tuned sense of humor, surely it would good for us as well. These ideas may not take our pain away from us, but we don’t have to make it so darned welcome, either. Don’t build your life around your pain; just drag it with you wherever you go.
Give it Away: You might say, “Me, in my shape? I have so little for myself why should I give anything to anyone else? I know, it is an enigma of sorts. It’s somewhat like the magic cup. The more you give, the more the cup refills itself. Does not a nursing mother have more milk for her infant the more she gives? What you give is up to you. If you have a few extra dollars give to a worthwhile charity. Many organizations like the Wounded Warriors or St Jude children’s hospital perform a great deal for others by many, like you and I sending in ten or twenty dollars each month. If you can make it to the store, buy extra and drop some of it off at your local food bank on the way home. Load up those extra books you’ve read and aren’t going to read again, find a small box and take it to your local library. If they don’t want it for the shelves, they will be having a book sale or know someone who can use them. If you have old coats or other clothing just hanging there in your closet, taking up space, donate it to a group that will get it to someone who has no coat.
While you’re at it, give away your anger, your hostility and your morbid self-pity. You don’t need them. Those you don’t share, you just sweep them out with the dust on the floor and those puppy hairballs. Some folks I’ve known like to write these feelings on bits of paper, along with the names of people who have “crossed” them in some way and either shred them or mulch them into the garden.
Many believe and wisely so, if you give of your goods you’re giving little compared to giving of yourself. Someone needs you today. You don’t think so…open your eyes.
Beware What You Put In: Many years ago, as a young medical assistant before I became an RN, I worked for a group of ENT men who were also plastic surgeons. The one who dealt mostly with issues of the ears, nose and throat liked kids and he always seemed to be the one on the removal detail. Let me explain in a poem I wrote about him some time ago.
A simple glass jar with Kerr stamped on the side
Resides in the place of honor on his desk.
A lifetime of retrievals on display for all to see.
Various colored buttons, copper pennies and Monopoly pieces,
A red and white aggie, tiny tin soldiers and paper clips,
All rest together with numerous baby teeth,
Barbie barrettes, fishing weights and bobbers.
His personal favorite is a green glass shooter
Just like one he had as a boy.
All have been reluctantly retrieved from screaming,
Runny-nosed children, strapped to gurneys,
Immobilized to prevent further harm and easier access.
Usually there was a crying mother at the side,
Whimpering , “It’s not my fault,” or “Wait ‘til I get you home.”
The jar filled with treasures
Proves his tangible worth as a specialist
Who knows how to use alligator forceps,
More impressive than any of the numerous
Framed diplomas on the wall.
I fear, as adults we just change venue. We put many things into our bodies, our “cups,” which don’t belong there, whether it’s bitterness, rancor, too many drugs, too much alcohol or just fear of life. We need those alligator forceps to snatch them out. Beware what you allow into your body, your life and your mind. So many poisonous ideas out there, beware.
Put Goodness in your Cup: We all have within us the power for decency, kindness and courage. We need to admit our true selves’ entry into our own lives. We need to stop trying to please others and discover who and what we really are. We can easily say yes to goodness and empower ourselves and thereby those around us. It’s similar to those adages about a smile using less muscles than a frown, etc. Within each of us is the ability to aid, help, carry, give and love. Each day is comprised of 24 hours, as you know. That is life—your life and mine. We are each unique. Isn’t that a wonderful idea to realize? You can do something I cannot do. I can do something I alone was created to do, as well. Embrace that idea. Don’t let this daily pain keep you from finding the unique you. We each have talents, abilities, creativity, kindliness and the list goes on. I encourage you to find and have the confidence to discover who you are, love that person and go out there and drag your pain along with you. Live life in those 24 hours each day. Don’t just exist.
What’s in your cup today? Is it full or empty?
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