Sunday, November 20, 2011
Inner Holiday: Three Escapes
Those afflicted with chronic illness, and the ones who live with them, cannot "take vacations"--something most middle class Americans assume happens in everyone's life. I prefer the world holiday, since vacation means to vacate, while holiday means an edifying change of scene, pace, and mood. It originally meant "holy-day."
Since we cannot take two weeks away camping, skiing, clubbing or museum-visiting in New York City (my wish), or anything of that sort, we need to creatively find holidays closer to home or in the home--but without forsaking the needs of our selves or those we (attempt to) care for. One needs a nontoxic escape of some sort, since life is so terrible. Here are two such excursions:
1. Escape into understanding. This phrase is from Marshall McLuhan. We are often helpless to change our situation very much (for the better); however, through reading and reflection, we may come to fathom the way things are to a greater degree. We can know, and find comfort in knowing--specially in knowledge of the things that matter most: God, the soul, and immortality.
2. Escape into beauty. Reality contains some beauty--fugitive and rarefied though its presence may be. Thus, one may enter it and leave the rest behind (for a time). "Mood Indigo" may enter through the portal of the ears into the soul--over and over, and in different versions over many years. Luminous and liminal paintings may be summoned to mystify, massage, and manicure the wounded soul. Behold: Georgia O'Keefe, Georges Rouault, Mark Rothko.
3. Escape into service. Engage in good works outside of helping the chronically ill. Volunteer for a food bank or splurge on someone who is depressed by something other than chronic illness. You do not do this strictly for yourself, of course. But it may change one's soul for the better in the doing of it.
But one must return to the chronic, and hope for grace there, too.