on-going mostly unedited stream of thoughts

blessings and curses

I just recovered from a migraine a couple of days ago. It was interesting to note that:

  • it didn’t occur in the usual time periods: before, during and after my menstrual cycle, but almost near my ovulation phase,
  • before this attack I went slightly more than 2 months without having one, which is I think a record for 2017,
  • I seem to be coping with it better emotionally,
  • It is less painful than my previous attack and lasted 2 instead of 3 days

I think when one is chronically ill we need to celebrate small victories, so I am appreciative that this time around it seems to take less a toll on me than the previous attack. Of course this is just a one-off observation and not a trend, so I can’t be too optimistic.

It is still upsetting that despite all the work I have done, I am still experiencing these migraines, but I need to learn how to take a step back and observe the longer-term trend.

People ask me what am I up to, these days I tell them I am practicing zen. It sounds like a joke, but it took me 2 years to realise that it is really the most important and yet the most challenging to cultivate an inner state that would be resilient in facing life’s ups and downs.

I have lived enough to know that what seems to be a blessing may turn out to be a curse, and vice versa. I thought moving to SF was my fairytale, but I ended up moving back voluntarily after barely 3 years. I thought one year would be more than enough to recover from my ill-health, but here I am 2 years later and I am still learning how to manage my health.

We are conditioned to believe in binary outcomes, but life is way more complex than that. Moving to SF was still one of the best things that happened to me, if not the best, despite the outcome. It was because of having moved there that enabled me to come back out of my own agency. Before, life simply happened to me. I didn’t feel like I have much of a choice in anything I did.

Choosing to come back was a massive exercise in courage. I now know I have it in me to be brave, to make the uncomfortable choice. Yet the entire experience also broke me in many ways.

But looking from my vantage point now, I can now see that being broken is also one of the best things to have happened to me. If I wasn’t as sick as I was, I would have continued to live like I did without any serious evaluation or examination if that was truly who I wanted to become or was I simply a product of society’s conditioning.

In practicing zen I want to cultivate the capability to be able to experience life without putting labels on my experiences. It is the labelling of something that causes me to suffer: the perceived loss of something that is supposed to be good, the perceived pain of being in a situation that is not supposed to be.

But in life, there is very little we can control ultimately. We can plan for the best career, have the best health, but we cannot control the loss of our loved ones. We can even try to maximise everything, but sometimes the greatest suffering comes from the unawareness that we ourselves have changed, or that the dreams our younger selves had, have become mental prisons to our current selves.

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