Mar 30 2011
I am often asked why I don’t publish a book. I usually give one of several standard answers that are all partly true, but the real reason is that I suffer from chronic fatigue. Balancing my day job, nurturing the Poetry Chaikhana, and maintaining my spiritual practice is often a challenging struggle for me. I just don’t have enough energy left to put together a book, at least for now.
I now find myself with a difficult decision… The company I work for in my day job, my primary source of income, has had to cut my work hours by nearly half. The change should be temporary, for a few months perhaps. But I still have to find a way to make ends meet while keeping the Poetry Chaikhana going.
I may have to consider taking on a second job. But it’s difficult to find work that is adaptable to my up and down schedule due to chronic fatigue patterns. I’d have to reserve as much energy as possible for the new job and either drastically cut back on the Poetry Chaikhana work or possibly put it on hold. That’s not the way I’d like to go.
To avoid that scenario and keep the Poetry Chaikhana going in a good rhythm, I need to reach out and ask for your support. As a community of more than 10,000 regular readers, we can cover enough of the daily expenses to support the Poetry Chaikhana — allowing me to continue to write commentary and send out the daily poem, maintain the poetry database, research and add new poets, update the website, and respond to your emails.
If the Poetry Chaikhana brings something special to you each day, please consider supporting the Poetry Chaikhana by sending a donation or signing up for a voluntary subscription. Your contribution is truly appreciated!
But please don’t feel as if I’m asking you to contribute more than you can comfortably afford. Even a small amount — from many people — is immensely helpful. Many contributions from many people makes the Poetry Chaikhana a stronger community project, maintained by many helping hands.
Ways you can contribute:
- You can send a check or money order in US funds made out to “Poetry Chaikhana” and addressed to:
PO Box 2320
Boulder, CO 80306
- You can make a secure donation online in any amount through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button below or on the Poetry Chaikhana home page www.poetry-chaikhana.com
- You can sign up for a voluntary subscription of $2/month or $10/month by clicking either the “Subscribe” or “Support” PayPal button, also below or at www.poetry-chaikhana.com (A regular monthly amount is often easier on your pocketbook and allows the Poetry Chaikhana to plan finances over the long term.)
I also want to thank everyone who has been so generous to the Poetry Chaikhana already, through donations, through notes of thanks, through supportive thoughts and prayers. Every contribution, financial and energetic, is sincerely appreciated.
A warm thank you to everyone!
I know I’m not alone with health struggles. I thought I’d share an excerpt of something I wrote a few years ago, a meditation on Health, Suffering, and Spirit. I hope it you find it helpful and inspiring.
Here’s the thing: Not every disease or discomfort is meant to be overcome.
That’s a hard thing to say, and even harder to accept. But it’s true. If disease dares to show up in our lives, we want it fixed, removed. We want to get on with life and refuse to see disease as being part of life. Even in the holistic health community which views illness as a teacher, we often want to learn the “lesson” so we can quickly dismiss the teacher.
Sometimes, though, dis-ease is an annoyingly persistent teacher. It teaches us interior awareness. Not something learned quickly. It teaches sheer endurance. And, maybe the most difficult lesson, surrender. Many of us get into the world of “alternative” health as a way to take control. But surrender, that’s much more difficult to achieve with grace. It requires real subtlety to even distinguish between surrender and defeat. I don’t think we should give in or give up. I personally keep trying new things, new approaches, new… strategies. Maybe it’s my Aries nature, but I sometimes think of it as a sparring match. I don’t necessarily get into to it to win. I just like the sparring. Like a martial artist. The back and forth teaches me more about myself.
Don’t speak of your suffering — He is speaking.
Don’t look for Him everywhere — He’s looking for you.
One other thing that has come to me over the years — one of the mental reflexes for suffering is… jealousy. That’s not the first emotion one normally associates with illness, but it’s often lurking in the background. I’ve certainly noticed it.
Why should I have so much of my life and attention diverted by this, when everyone else has it so easy?
I thought I was alone who suffered.
I went on top of the house,
And found every house on fire.
I’m always being reminded that no one has it easy. Sure, some people have less struggle, while others have heartbreaking levels of suffering. But, when the weariness clears, I glimpse a surprising truth: None of that is the point. The purpose of the human spirit isn’t to be free from difficulty.
That may sound like a cold statement, but it is not. When deeply embraced, this understanding opens us to greater levels of empathy and compassion, and it begins to create a profound resilience within ourselves, allowing us to encounter suffering without shutting down. In other words, if you hold in your mind the idea that suffering is inherently and always wrong, then when you encounter it, you will instinctively shut down. If, however, you accept the existence of suffering — in yourself, in others — your eyes and heart remain open and your hands become willing in the midst of struggles. Accepting suffering gives you greater ability to genuinely alleviate it.
Spirituality and Health
There is a related unconscious thought we often carry that suffering and illness are the sign that something is imperfect about ourselves spiritually. Saints get cancer and have heart attacks. Sages suffer epilepsy. Medicine women get migraines. The body, being a limited vehicle designed to operate in a sometimes disharmonious environment, will sometimes ail. The mark of attainment is not a lack of struggle, but how we respond to that struggle.
Our lives are simply stories. Sometimes the drama and the heat are high, sometimes they are quiet. What is important is the meaning we discover and reveal through that drama. It’s a supremely difficult paradox: We have to engage intensely in the body and the challenges of life, yet, at the same time, it’s not personal… it’s a fascinating story being told through us.
The hallowing of Pain
Like hallowing of Heaven,
Obtains at corporeal cost –
The Summit is not given
To Him who strives severe
At middle of the Hill –
But He who has achieved the Top –
All – is the price of All –
Meaning and Suffering
The ultimate question is one of meaning. When we discover meaning in suffering, the suffering becomes endurable. Even comfort and ease, without meaning, eventually become unbearable.
Illness may be devastating, but discovering meaning feeds a hunger even more fundamental than the desire to be free from pain. It feeds the hunger of the soul know itself.
That hunger, when left unfed, is the real source of suffering in the world.
how can the heart in love
ever stop opening
– Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi