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  • Writer's picturekelly keena

patience and sitting your ass down

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

Years ago, my husband started calling CF sit-your-ass-down disease. Even before we knew I had CF. Because I am a do’er. Always have been, but even more so since I started getting recurrent pneumonias in my early twenties when I almost died from a staph infection in my lungs. And then I became more motivated to do…more.

A self-proclaimed champion of multi-tasking (even before social media was invented). I said Yes!!! to everything. I committed to all of it. I taught and directed and planned and built and partnered and mothered and…and…and…. The only thing that ever stopped me was my body. Illness. You can physically push through many things, but not your own body. Sitting was always very hard for my mind.

I ran until my body wracked with bone shaking fever and my lungs filled up. Until I was literally unable to function beyond a hospital bed. That’s what we call sit-your-ass-down disease. The only thing to do is to stop moving, be completely vulnerable - stripped of all defenses, and for God’s sake Kelly, be patient.

Chronic illness is an excellent teacher. We know disappointment. In July last year, I woke up early the morning my teen daughter and I were to board a plane for the Peruvian Amazon. And started coughing up blood. Not just a little. An alarming amount. I woke her up to tell her that our trip (in 2 hours) was cancelled and I was going to be in the hospital for the next bit of time. Two weeks. The standard two weeks. We know disappointment. And changing plans.

This is the same kid who is currently a senior in high school. Who is likely forgoing prom and a graduation ceremony. In order of priorities, this is low. We have two incomes for the time being and we have shelter, kindness, and food. But, gawwwwwddddd, it’s a colossal let down.

And guess what? There’s nothing we can do but sit down and start the healing process. Again.

And we know that if we don’t get exposed to this virus by our friends or family or strangers at the grocery, there will be other trips. There will be other times to adventure. There will be a way to celebrate her scholastic accomplishments. Just not now.

The only solution: Sit your ass down.

My dear friend Corrie gave me a piece of smooth driftwood as a gift. It now sits in front of my yoga mat every morning and bedside all other times. It says, “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” I see that and remember to be still, even for a few moments per day, and stop doing. Start listening. Start paying attention to disappointment and sadness and grief and fear. They don’t go away if I’m busy. They loom outside my window until I lay my head down at night.

We are all do’ers - admitted or not. Our lives are a continuous stream of doing. I am not of the mind that this virus is a blessing. I know viruses well enough to know that is hardly the case.

Instead, perhaps this time of global shutdown is an opportunity to reflect on how uncomfortable we are with discomfort. And stillness.

Wouldn’t we all be better off with that lesson from the driftwood? All of us. Not segmented by politically drawn country or regional boundaries or skin color or check book balance or education. All of us. Because like nature’s pace, she also doesn’t give a shit about any of that socio-cultural stuff.

The lesson is that we cannot “do” ourselves out of this. We cannot force this virus end its course for the sake of our economies (also socio-cultural, by the way). We will not beat this thing until we all just sit down. We must be patient. Compassionate. Loving. Flexible. Tolerant. Giving. Receiving.

We must all be in or we’re all going to be out. Of life. Of loved ones.

So please, despite what a misguided "leader" may be saying through the boxes on our walls, sit your ass down.

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