When I was young, I remember lying in bed at night secretly terrified, scaring the crap out of myself as I tried to understand the whole world, life and death and this thing called God. But what scared me most was eternity. Something about endless forever really got to me. And I wanted to know if God really existed, who created Him. What came before all this, I wondered. And what came before that. And so on.
My mom tried to answer my questions but eventually it dawned on me that the adults had no more clue than I had. But surprisingly, they seemed okay with not knowing. Or they had glib answers that seemed to satisfy them but left me confused. They seemed to just take this life and existence thing for granted. This was normal, they appeared to say. It’s all normal. Don’t worry. It helped me that they weren’t worried but it didn’t stop me from lying awake at night, wondering about everything.
A few years ago, I was crushed between two trucks as I sat on my tiny motor scooter waiting for the light to change. Physically, my body was damaged pretty good with two shattered wrists, a compound fracture of my left femur, two broken ribs and a several broken bones in my lower back, but it was my mind that sustained the biggest hit.
Not my brain but my mind. Thanks to my helmet, I did not have a head injury of any kind. And thanks to being in shock, initially I felt no pain and thought serenely as I lay there in a pool of my own blood that the worst was already over. I remember thinking, “It will all get better from here.”
But even though my body healed, it took my mind awhile to catch up. I became afraid of pain and for about four months Norco was my best friend in the world. I took it religiously. And like that little kid I once was and felt I was again, I went looking for answers that no one had. No one could explain why. I didn’t care that I had metal in three limbs or a numb left leg due to the extra bone that grew inside one of my muscles. I just didn’t want the pain. Pain was my master. I would do anything to not have it.
My turning point came when I whispered to the universe, “I’m willing to have this. I’m willing to receive this. I welcome this. All of this.” Once my mind surrendered, my body followed. Eventually the pain left me and for the first time in months, I stopped thinking of myself all the time.
I still worry sometimes when a new pain shows up and refuses to leave. And then the anxiety arrives and sits there poking my nerves with tiny knives. But then I have clients every day who have had it much worse than me and I focus on them. Their suffering. Their relief.
Here is what I wrote to someone special today:
“Some lives are harder than others. Our minds want to focus on the stuff we have that we don’t want or the stuff we want that we don’t have.
“Our minds want to focus on what isn’t fair. We fight and resist reality, which creates more tension.
“Willingness is the key. When we unwilling to have what we have, we still have it and we have our resistance and our refusal to accept it.
“We need to be honest about what we can control and what we can’t. Our life is what it is right now. And to the degree we resist what we have, we suffer.
“Accept this moment as if you chose it. Open up to a universe that wants you healed and whole. We have very little control here and this is a great opportunity to grow. We must continually ask what we can control or change and accept the rest.”
Words are just words but within them, we stumble onto truth. Truth that might heal us and unlock some of the mysteries of being a human. For many of us, this isn’t easy and yet it helps sometimes to know we aren’t alone.
Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 25 years. He believes in magic and is a Sacramento Kings fan.