What I’ve Gained

When I started to lose my hearing, I freaked out a lot.

I quit a lot of groups I went to– public speaking groups, capoeira, a lot of other stuff– because I wasn’t hearing what was going on properly anymore. Either that, or they were really loud, and I was afraid of hurting my ears more. It was tough.

That was about 3 years ago– I’ve leveled off now. Sometimes I hear new sounds, and that’s really scary. I realized that if I’m hearing new stuff, it means that there could be new sounds anytime, leading me to consider how bad this could really get. That could mean becoming isolated– after all, conversation is one of the main things that brings people together. What happens when you miss out on that?

All this brings new perspective. You’re freaking out at first because it’s so new, and the first moments where you’re suffering are always worse than whatever you become accustomed to. Eventually, you look at what’s going on in your life and you think “You know what, this isn’t so bad.”

And actually, it isn’t. I have a pretty good life.

The body does break down as we age– this much is true for everyone. I feel like for me, small parts of it have decided to go a bit early. That’s no problem. I think it’s made me more resilient and prepared for change. I know what it’s like to get old, I just have that earlier than a lot of normal people. I’m ok with this.

Tomorrow, the day after, or anytime after that, any number of terrible things could happen, without warning. We can’t focus on those possibilities, because it can paralyze us. We have to take advantage of what we have now.

I have this quote on a magnet on my fridge:

Be Thankful For This Moment– This Moment Is Your Life

Whatever your situation is, there is only one answer: “Ok, so this is how things are. This is what I have to work with. So be it.” Like, imagine you’ve been arrested. You don’t fight with the cops, you just do what you can, once you can do it, right? Getting argumentative about it will just make it worse. It’s the same with life.

Or maybe I’ve been watching too many episodes of the Wire, I dunno. It makes sense to me.





6 responses to “What I’ve Gained”

  1. Annette Schwindt Avatar

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience so openly! This encourages me to freak out less about my own problems (for me it’s not the hearing but the heart that makes me age earlier than others). I also think no-one is without limitations, some just pretend they are. 😉

  2. Tamsen McMahon Avatar

    It’s all about what we get used to, isn’t it? I’ve had tinnitus for as long as I can remember–but it’s a steady state. Hasn’t ever gotten better, nor has it gotten worse. But I always, always hear the high pitch which of a (good ol’ tube) TV turned on. Every now and then one of my ears will decide to sing its own tune–put out a specific tone that lasts for a few seconds to a minute. Again, not bothersome now that I’ve had three decades of it (but a bit distracting when I sang).

    It’s the new things that are difficult, like a panic disorder that manifested for me when I was 16. Suddenly, without warning, was this completely irrational, and yet comprehensively physical response to, well, nothing but my own thoughts (and if THAT doesn’t eventually make you believe in the power of the mind, nothing will). The process of ridding myself of said disorder took, somehow appropriately, 16 years–also a testament to the power of the mind.

    What we pay attention to grows stronger. When we focus on what we’ve lost, or on what separates us from others, we feel resentful, bereft, other. When we focus instead on what we’ve gained, we feel gratitude, complete, connected. We find our place of grace.

    To pick up on your previous post, the path to difference is truth to self. But few of us are willing to embody fully who we are, good and bad, losses and gains. But it’s embracing that unique combination of gifts and gaps that not only makes us human, but makes us whole.

  3. Justin Avatar

    To be thankful for what we have is a gift that many people are not given.

  4. CT Moore Avatar

    In regards to “this moment being your life,” it sounds completely lame, but I think that Kenneth Cole said it well: “Today is not a dress rehearsal.”

    But you’re right, sometimes you have to go with the flow, even if it takes you in a direction you’re not headed. It’s like that Taoist parable where the old man dives into the waterfall and makes it safely back to shore because he goes with the current instead of trying to fight it.

  5. Summer Avatar

    I have to agree. I got sick a few years ago – went from vibrant full life to being full disabled and nearly bedridden in a number of months.

    Now? Nothing beats me. It can’t. I lived through/with that and still do. I could could get sick again tomorrow. I already made my end of life choices. (I’m one of the few folks in their 20’s with a DNR on file.) And you know what?

    Every.single.day is a blessing. I love it. I am grateful for my illness because it makes me live life, now.

  6. Tracy Lee Carroll Avatar

    First, I’d love to say that Tamsen’s reply is spot on!

    I’ve had a major life shift this year that was none of my doing nor was in any way under my control. In the beginning I freaked out a LOT and there are times when I still have problems, but you know what? The one mantra I have developed that has helped me the most is, “right here, right now.” If you focus on the moment, then the pain of loss does not exist. The past is gone, it isn’t part of this moment. To be fully in the moment, is to not be in the past (loss) or worry about the future (fear) but to be in the NOW. That is really all we have that is truly real — Right Now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *