Every time I gain more mental clarity, I also gain more amazement and astonishment over what has happened to me, to my brain, and to my family since I had that first, fateful seizure on August 30, 2012. After returning from the hospitals and rehab facilities, almost three months later, I launched this current series of Provisions with an issue titled Seized by Life. A nice play on words; but today we kick it up a notch. I am seized to be amazed and I encourage you to live in that place of wonder as well.
Life really is amazing. Sometimes it’s amazingly good; other times it’s amazing bad. Sometimes it’s amazingly exciting; other times it’s amazingly boring. Sometimes it’s amazingly obvious; other times it’s amazingly perplexing. Sometimes it’s amazingly friendly, courteous, and kind; other times it’s amazing aloof, rude, and mean. One way or the other, though, amazement is the common thread.
That has certainly been a strong part of my experience with epilepsy. Epilepsy was not, for me, a congenital condition. It was something that came upon me at the end of August 2012 and no one has been able to figure out, completely, either the cause or the cure. Fortunately, some of the smartest medical brains in the world – including that of my daughter – have figured out enough things to make me functional again.
It’s easy for me to get discouraged by all of this, both by the nature and the extent of the problem, but for today I choose to be amazed. Who would have thunk’ it! On one level, it doesn’t make any sense and it’s easy to start railing at life over all that has happened – as the prophet Job did, in the Hebrew book that bears his name, after losing everything he had including his riches, his family, and his health. There are times when things have gotten that bad.
But then there are those other times when, on another level, the things that have happened make perfect sense and it’s easier to stand amazed over all that has happened. And maybe the two reactions – railing at life and being amazed by life – go hand in hand. I like the comment from William Safire, in The First Dissident, that if the Book of Job teaches us anything it teaches us that it is better to question life and to be irate over inexplicable suffering than to accept things blindly and to be resigned. I also like how Mark Larrimore explores other, meaningful aspects of the story in his conversation with Tom Ashbrook on National Public Radio. I encourage you to listen to it now, if you are able.
Given my experience, with my emotions swinging back and forth between the two extremes, between being angry and being amazed, I can identify with Job. Even though my losses have not come close to his, they have been real, significant, and seemingly unwarranted. Like Job, I have therefore leaned more towards questioning and being irate than towards accepting and being resigned. This is a complex and curious condition, that I would not wish on anyone.
But, perhaps, it is the complexity and curious nature of my condition that makes it all the more amazing. And that amazement has me thinking about life much more deeply and even more freshly than before. It has given me a new perspective on life that is reflected partly in Mary Oliver’s short poem, Song of the Builders:
On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God–
a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside
this way and that.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope
it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.
There’s really no better reaction than amazement to life’s many complexities and curiosities. That we would be here at all. That I would have survived this ordeal and would have recovered to where I am today. That I would write these Provisions every week, for no good reason other than that I want to do so. That so many people would read them and that at least a few of you would reply every week, to offer greetings, feedback, appreciation, and/or constructive criticism.
I can identify with that cricket, moving the grains of the hillside. I expend a great deal of energy in writing these Provisions, get paid no money for doing so, and have no illusions that they or I will make any difference in the world or survive the test of time. I just carry on and write them, building the universe in my own inexplicable way. And that makes me happy.
That also makes me thankful because, whether or not anyone reads them, I am still here to write them. We do not think about our own mortality at the time we are born. Indeed, no one thinks about much of anything at that point. But from the earliest of days we do have instincts and feelings that make us eat, sleep, breathe, reach, laugh, cry, and interact with other people (to mention only a few). We have instincts and feelings, in other words, that make us want to live or as Mary Oliver puts it in her poem, that makes us go on, in our own inexplicable ways, to build the universe.
And that’s not only a good thing; that’s an amazing thing. I never cease to be amazed by the saga I have been on since the end of last August. Seeing them as a saga, as an adventure, is one way to appreciate these seizures as a gift rather than as a curse. Every time I seize, I am amazed by life. I did not ask for this turn of events and I certainly don’t want any more seizures (even though I just had a tiny little tremor of one, while taking a break from writing this Provision). I never enjoy them, even when they are so small that they qualify as “Nips” – a cross between nothing and a blip.
Even though I never enjoy them, in complex and curious ways I find that both my small and large seizures are transformational and, therefore, amazing. There’s no way to be transformed without being amazed. So I would invite you to look for your own sense of wonder in life and to allow yourself to be amazed. When you are seized in that way, it’s impossible to not be transformed.
Coaching Inquiries: When was the last time that you were truly seized by amazement? What happened? How were you changed by the experience? How could you open yourself to being seized by amazement in ever-more wonderful and curious ways? What’s to stop you from making it so, right now?
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.
When we met recently, I promised you an NPR radio link from last week on the program on Job. Here’s the Link! It’s an interview with Mark Larrimore. I found it very helpful. I enjoyed seeing you.
You may not remember me, but I worked with you in Columbus when you were consulting at Borden. I am sorry to read about your health problems. I hope only the best for your recovery. I often work on the Columbus Marathon and always think of you running as a pacer. I think of the folks you encouraged and supported in their efforts to complete this challenge. It sounds like you are facing some pretty big health challenges. As someone who was impressed with your spirit, talent and compassion for others, I have no doubt you will cope with these issues in the way you faced the marathon challenges. You never gave up and encouraged others not to give up either.
Were you perhaps writing today’s provision just to me? One word came to mind over and over – GUILTY!!! Can’t wait to meet you and Megan tonight!
Your last Provision was lovely…. Thank you. Big hug.
Yes! Yes! Yes! There is a major gift in this. What I truly believe and have observed is that each of our “stories” is determined to teach us something – it seems the universe decided to get through to you by hitting you over the head with a 2 x 4. Surely you are awakening now to a ‘less type A’ personality. The better the more you are healing. I say HOORAY!!!!! I support you in creating a new story. Go forward. Life is what’s coming, not what was, and the best is yet to come!
May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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