For years I was ill, for days I would vomit if I moved my head or faint if I tried to stand up. I would be lying in my bed tormented with pain and not able to fulfill any of my obligations. Still, the memory is so painful that I prefer not to write or talk about it. I was eventually healed through surgery, today only extreme exertion will trigger a new attack. Needless to say, this gives a special glow to every ordinary day, as to me the ability to live an ordinary life fills me with wonder and gratefulness every day. Even so, in the middle of it all, for all these years I did not know how it all would turn out, I did not really dare to believe that I would live through it, this side of heaven. Gradually I am able to look back and search for the tools that helped me through it all, even when I had no hope for it ever to end.
I read the amazing book “The diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Jean-Dominique Bauby some years ago. The author wrote the book by blinking his left eye, and told the story of living with locked-in syndrome. One of his tools was to go for walks, at once I recognized my own treasured walks when I actually could not walk at all.
He never left his bed, I of course had quite normal days in between. He died, I am very much alive. He wrote his book by blinking his left eye for four hours each day. I have all the tools and time I need and still are not able to concentrate on writing. So of course I do not compare my life to his, what we share is the gift of walking while lying absolutely still.
Here is how I would do it. I would savor and scan every beautiful place I saw. I would look for the details, I would stop and feel the breeze in my face, I would pick flowers and smell them, I would feel the sun or the wind in every limb, then I saved it all in my soul. When I was in bed, I would start trying to recollect as many details as possible. I would tell my self that my pain would not go anywhere so I could safely leave it with my body and take my mind and soul for a walk. Most times I returned to the same morning in the spanish highlands, where I now know every stone,in my mind. Did it take away the pain? No, not to me. Did it make me heal sooner? No, i do not think so. Did it take care of the tangle of the life on the other side of my bedroom door? It did not sound like it.
What it did was to remind me, life is worth living. What it did was to keep me believing that “this too will pass”. What it did was most of all to keep me knowing that I would be carried through this ordeal too. To me it made the promise of the Bible real, there was pastures of green, even close to the valley of death.