Surviving a major illness is a blessing and a struggle. The blessings are many and I count them every day. I am alive, spending time with my precious family and friends and continuing to heal my being into wholeness. I have struggles too, dark moments of despair. I think that’s normal. And if I am honest most of my dark moments come because I am trying to control something that can’t be controlled. The truth is nothing is under control. Before a seed can grow, it is planted in total darkness. With a little water, nutrients, and sun the seed will unfold and grow. I need to remember that I am a seed too.
If you have had a major illness like a stroke, heart attack, cancer, or multiple sclerosis then you get it. You understand the duality of blessings and struggles. And for me, messing with the brain is tricky business. When your noggin is jig sawed open and radiated, you’re gonna have issues. I have cluster migraines accompanied with disco balls, when I’m stressed or dehydrated my right hand and foot are slow to respond, I have vision issues and sometimes I can’t concentrate or find my words.
When I talk to my doctors about these struggles, they just nod, and I get that smile. You know the one. It’s the smile that says I know you are disappointed but at least you’re on this side of the grass. And of course, they are right. But the one thing I really want to do is a BIG struggle, drawing and painting. I’ve been doing it since I was 3 years old. Lines and color light up my soul.
The first time I tried to draw and paint it didn’t go well. I decided to wait and continue healing before I tried again. The following attempts were no better. I was depressed and then I remembered Beethoven. Did you know that Ludwig van Beethoven was deaf when he composed his Ninth symphony? He sawed off the legs of his piano and sat it on the floor. He then laid on the floor, played the notes and felt the vibrations. That’s how he wrote a symphony! Some would argue that his Ninth symphony was his very best work. If Beethoven could write music without hearing, then surely I could scribble color on a page. It might not be a masterpiece but maybe just the act of creating would lift my soul?
I set up my drawing pad and watercolors and got busy. It was a frustrating experience that left me heart broken and sobbing. I had lost so much. And then I heard the voices of my ancestors soothing my distress. They whispered for me to let go. Let the ink and paint just unfold on the paper. Just relax. Nothing is under control. I pulled myself together and just went with the flow.
The picture at the top of this post is the end result. It’s a teapot without a spout. The spout just didn’t want to be on the page. Did all teapots need a spout? No. The tea could be poured from the lid. Why not? I re-designed my teapot. Just like Beethoven re-designed his piano. You work with what you’ve got.
My expectation was that I would be able to draw and paint like I did in the past. When I failed, I felt sad and focused on the loss instead of the gain. What I gained was the gift of flow. Of being uniquely me and reflecting my authentic healing journey. Nothing is under control. Not my painting, migraines, or control of my hand. What I can control is how I view it all. Letting go of trying to control brings profound freedom and peace. Just live in the moment. This moment.
I have found a new song to dance to, Under Control by Freeland. When I find myself trying to control something, I crank up the volume and DANCE to this song. If you are having a hard time giving up control and expectations then give it a listen, dance and let your soul soak up the meaning of the lyrics. Just relax, nothing is under control.