Our Winter experience certainly brought perspective to our lives and made me reassess a whole lot. Here’s the next installment of…
Musings from a hospital bed
Grumbling. Ooo, that awful attitude. We all know it and we all know the havoc it can wreak. Why is everything so easy for everyone else? Why can’t I get a break? Why do my babies have to have all these challenges? Why does no one see everything I do? Why am I so tall/small/straight-haired/freckly? When we come across a situation we disapprove of, it’s like the strong-willed child inside of us rises up and demands their way. And it ain’t pretty!
Any reasonable person can see that feet-stomping and wailing is not a rational response to sandwiches that are not cut in triangles. And yet, we go ahead and have a metaphoric meltdown anyway when things don’t pan out the way we expected. Too hot, too cold, too busy, too bored, too caring, too distant, too much, too soon… Well, you get the idea. We are all rather adept at grumbling. Myself included. And it seems that the cushier our lives get, the more the grumbling grows.
Lying in a hospital bed, made me take a serious look at my life and quietened that grumble monster very quickly.
Grumbling has a two-step antidote:
The first step of treatment is a heavy dose of perspective.
Yes, I was in a major car accident and badly injured, but I was privileged enough to be on medical aid and be taken to the second-best trauma hospital in South Africa. Yes, I had shattered my pelvis, but I would be able to walk. Um, hello, that’s a biggie. Yes, I was separated from my little ones, but they were safe. I would see them again… I would hold them again. And all those silly little things that had been pestering me before the accident, simply faded into the background. In the grand scheme of things, things were actually quite peachy as I lay there with time on my hands.
I managed to finish a whole book (And all the other mamas applauded because they know what an achievement that is when you have small kiddies). Friends and family visited me round the clock, and generally came bearing gifts of the sweet-tasting and sweet-smelling variety. And I had pain meds at my disposal. Besides taking away a huge amount of my pain, I can’t say I was completely opposed to the other pleasant side-effects they had *cough* euphoria *eh-hum* 🙂 But seriously, it took the cold wind of winter wake me up and give me a little perspective to see exactly what I had (pre- and post-accident) and what I had been protected from.
The second step is administering plenty of gratitude.
We have so much to be thankful for… So, so much. Even in the middle of a really tough situation or a difficult season, if we step back and take note of what we actually have around us, in us and with us, we have so much to say thank you for. In the rehabilitation facility I went to, I shared a ward with two beautiful ladies who had both had strokes – one was over 80, the other barely 30.
The just-30-patient had to learn it all from scratch… First breathing, then eating, then speaking and walking. I hobbled around shuffling from my bed to the bathroom, sometimes venturing into the corridor (when the nurses weren’t looking). My roomie couldn’t stand on her own. I sat up and enjoyed my 4am tea (yes 4am!) without a second thought, while she battled for 5 minutes to unwrap a rusk from its packaging. I was given the dignity of keeping private things private. But she, because of her circumstances, was not. All I could feel in that place was gratitude and admiration. Gratitude for what I had, and pure admiration for a person of such courage and determination. Never once did she complain about her situation and she always, always said thank you.
I realised then that we can even be grateful for the monotony of our everyday routines. In fact, we should. When you can hardly brush your own teeth or aren’t there to make your son’s school lunch, you realise what a privilege it really is. I felt like sending myself for a timeout for all my grumbling in the months before the accident. I was like a broken record, quietly grumbling about how much I had to do and complaining about not having any “me” time.
But that’s just it, isn’t it? Grumbling is inward-facing. Me, me, me. Gratitude looks out, up and around. Grumbling grabs; gratitude gives.
So how about we take a moment and move from grumbling to gratitude, shall we?
“Winter Perspective” by Norman Hanna