The title of a seminal album by The Moody Blues back in the 70’s.
An important principle of accounting.
A buzz phrase for getting our lives in shape; physically, mentally & emotionally.
But it is also something the majority of us take for granted each day.
We get up, walk around, do our daily activities, perhaps drive a car, ride a bike or sit in a chair without even thinking about it.
I take it for granted too although some of the drugs I received during my recent illness certainly left me with an interesting perspective on direction, most days I was able to get up & function.
However, more recently I have been forced to re-visit this aspect of life.
I have a good friend for whom most days, getting out of bed is a real challenge because getting out of bed means standing up & standing up involves her balance. My friend suffers from Ménière’s disease, a condition that affects the inner ear balance mechanism. I won’t go into details here because she is starting her own blog which I will showcase once it’s up & running & will be well worth reading.
What I want to focus on is this aspect of looking at people & not seeing.
Ménière’s disease is, like so many other diseases, invisible to those around us. My friend looks perfectly normal; she doesn’t have a big MD on her forehead or anything like that, but like anyone else who has one of these invisible diseases she suffers! The list is long but not only does she suffer with the physical symptoms, she has to bear the stress of chronic (prolonged) bouts of illness that can literally force her to stay in bed, flat on her back, feeling as if the whole room is spinning & the associated nausea that goes with it.
She has also suffered a great deal through the misunderstanding or unwillingness to understand by others. She lives in continual underlying fear that if she’s out shopping or socialising or at work & she has an unexpected attack, not only will she be ill, but she also runs the risk of being completely misunderstood!
Ménière’s disease can make one look drunk & hinder speech so anyone looking on may easily come to the wrong conclusion & pass her by when she needs help most.
As with all people who suffer from chronic illness she has a philosophical side which brings out a great sense of humour.
And that’s what I love about her & people in similar situations; despite days when she is isolated, feels like hiding away, maybe even feeling as if it’s all too much, she still presses on against the odds & inspires those around her.
I walk past people & make snap judgements based on what I see rather than what I know.
I was speaking to my good friend Swanny yesterday whilst my daughter was getting some new ink on her back & he recounted a story of a friend, who was a seriously hard case struggling to control his anger. One day he walked into a store when a man walked out nearly taking him out with the door & then walked off without so much as a backward glance. Incensed by the lack of respect & overcome with anger the friend followed the man & gave him a headbutt in the face. Standing there with blood running from his nose & mouth the man looked-up & said, “What have I done?” When the friend told him in no uncertain terms, the man apologised & said, “I’m really sorry, I’m not with it today; I walked in to my 86-year-old mum’s house to find her dead on the floor.” The friend was devastated. That single incident led to a complete change in his life for the better.
He had looked & assumed & acted without knowing the facts … the results were disastrous!
So with my friend: people look, make assumptions & then impose their views on her without knowing the facts or giving her chance to explain.
We walk a very dangerous line when we jump to conclusions from what we see. As Swanny’s friend said recently, “I can no longer get angry with the driver who cuts me up, or the person that treats me badly because I do not know what they’re going through.”
By knowing some of the background, I can begin to appreciate all the more how determined, strong & sometimes worn down my friend is. I can’t always help (nor should I expect to) but I am thankful that she has patience with people like me who can judge out of ignorance.
She is a great encouragement, not only because of how she handles what are almost impossible odds at times, but that she still perseveres when hope may seem to be fading.
I count my daily blessings because I can walk around & do normal tasks without worrying about it.
I also count my blessings that having got to know her a little better I can appreciate how I see others & where I need to change.
What we see isn’t always what we get.
Taking a breath before we act or speak may save ourselves & others from unnecessary hurt, worry & pain. It also gives chance for us to be able to help rather than just speculate, hinder or ignore.
The question I am left with is, “Am I prepared to change?” & only I can answer that 🙂
Take care until next time …