Letting go of the good or bad: learning to live with grey.

All certainty slips away when I try to describe a day, my day, as good or bad. Likewise when somebody asks me how I am, how should I respond. Which part of me are you asking about, which aspect of my day, my life, my experience am I to refer to. All my moments weave together to form a complex whole, a tapestry or web of many threads. This is living in the grey, shifting away from being good or bad, this or that.

I sit for a moment, pausing, resting. Breathing into a moment of pain, a deep inside hard to define pain. It doesn’t pass or shift but my attention does. I notice now my breath, short and rapid, I exhale slowly, my pulse still feels like it is racing, but no real harm is being done. I am not at risk nor in danger, not really. I sit here on the couch. Cat sleeping beside me I am propped up by cushions, still I am not comfortable but that is OK. I have learnt that I don’t need to be comfortable. I don’t need to be pain free. I don’t need to be well. I sit, I write, I feel. I pour the heart of me onto the page, this is how I am. I am all of this, pain, hope, joy, love, fondness, curiosity, all of this and more.

My day is full of these moments, of contradictions and clarity wrapped up together. Ambiguity abounds. This is not a good day or a bad day, this day simply is. The attributes of good or bad really do not apply. How can they. A day when I am sick, when symptoms are strong and my body is weak, can also be a day where my mind soars, where my heart sings and I experience the pleasure of connection, of living, of being. A day when I feel well, strong and able, may also be filled with frustration, loss and disconnection. Usually a day will be a mix, a combination, never this or that alone. Expectations, reactions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences all swirling around mixing together in my conscious and sub conscious mind. The past and the future, it all comes together somehow. My mind noticing, interpreting and responding sometimes to the pain, to the discomfort, other times to pleasure. I can shift my expectations my attention, not to avoid what is not wanted, just to notice what else there is.

A friend of mine does empathy training. To help in her work she has created a deck of cards each one with a feeling and a short definition on them. I’ve sat down a few times looking through the large deck, card by card I progress.  ‘Yes, I feel this, and this,’ I place them out on the table before me, love and fear. I feel this, down goes security, and then hope, and discomfort. I continue until the table is covered with cards. How can I have so many feelings inside me I wonder, so varied and contradictory. Where do they all fit, how do they all fit.

So often, even with knowing such complexity is present, I name my feelings instead as good, or bad, I feel happy or sad, pleased or disappointed. This is a simplification that does me and others a disservice. Feelings, and experiences, the physical and emotional, form a finely woven cloth. Threads of varying lengths and thicknesses, some strong and robust, others fine and easily breakable. Twisting, twining, weaving and merging together.

This is how life is. Not good or bad, but bits of almost everything. Nothing feels fixed or firm not when it comes to my body or my mind. Not when it comes to life. There is a multitude of experiences, of present moments, and potential ones, of what has been, of what is, and of what can be. Certainly some days are better than others, but this does not make them wholly good or bad. By embracing the complexity of an honest assessment, one not afraid of ambiguities, I feel a growing sense of possibility, and potential. So many threads to tug on, to follow.

Know your own mind, I have been told, accused of being indecisive, or wishy washy. And I can be. Often though I am simply casting the net wide, feeling broadly as well as deeply and noticing all that is present. This is how I am living with chronic illness, with the lack of control and absence of certainty. I am surrendering even more so to the grey. Hoping that here, without simply good or bad I can live more comfortably with whatever my day may bring.

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