Why I Feel Less Angry with People That Don’t Understand MS
While it’s true that I feel less angry with people that seem to enjoy wallowing in their callous ignorance, my newfound magnanimity has cost me dearly. Forgiveness, as I’m sure you’d agree, requires a gradual, painful process of breaking down one’s self-importance in favor of living in an unfair world. At the advanced age of 59, I’ve been whittled down by life experience to the point where I’ll gladly sacrifice some self-righteous indignation because, frankly, I’m afraid to die alone. Sad, but not that sad. As much of a loner as I’ve always been, I can’t afford to be that way so much anymore. Ask not for whom the bell tolls/ It tolls for thee.
We with chronic illnesses soon become painfully aware that being alive is, well, complicated and stressful! On the one hand, the healthy young “we” as children are encouraged to feel entitled to the best life we can imagine and realize. But on the other hand, we are also taught to not steamroll over others on our road to self-fulfillment. It takes a village to raise a child, who can then build other villages, sustain them, fund road maintenance, and fund the schools so future children won’t have to rediscover fire.
No one should be an island
No one should be an island. But if you are, you still need others to survive. Best to market your island as a popular vacation destination. That way you’ll soon have a village, etc., but still have your “me” time during the off season. Because folks, if you value your oneness above all else, then I’d be tempted to guess you are still a teenager living in your teensy corner of a tiny bubble.
But, you might counter, isn’t my anger with the mainstream justified? Is not the world a cesspool of greed and indifference? Though you might disagree with Liebnitz that this is the best of all possible worlds (I know I do!), his optimism is nothing to shake a stick at. We can’t live the best of all possible lives on a steady diet of cynicism.
Still, I think we’re onto something if we believe this isn’t the best of all possible worlds; that we can do better than what counts for the status quo. Problem is, we don’t all achieve magnanimity at the same time. Think parking lot confrontations with bullying blue space vigilantes. No sooner do we attain a loftier mindset through illness, we want to dope-slap those still in the dark. I do, anyway. But I’m a thug, everybody knows that. There is hope for me—and if there is hope for a thug then there is definitely hope for you.
So how do I go from snarling at clueless people to playing finger cymbals with the Hare Krishna? Hint: it isn’t by following a straight line. It isn’t condensed to a pithy message in a bottle that washed ashore, either. For me it’s by pushing a soft message into the endless loop of negative thoughts streaming through my mind all day and all night. A calm voice that says lighten your load by keeping your feelings out of those daily little errands. Whenever I move up to the counter and the sales associate asks how I am, I now feign a good-natured, vacuous smile and assume a pretty darn convincing dumb blonde character. My voice goes up an octave, my head falls to one side, and I shrug my shoulders a lot as if to acknowledge that I’m much too idiotic to be alive, so I must be the luckiest dumb girl on the planet. People seem to love that. They tend not to say stupid things to me when they feel a mixture of sympathy for and familiarity with the dummy standing in front of them. It’s as if we are connecting on the level of our universal dumb blonde-ness.
The moment I started playing an airhead, the chip on my shoulder shattered on the floor. My new mantra? Dumber is better. My latest revelation? Blondes do have more fun!
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