• kelly keena

tipping the scales and writing again.

Updated: Jan 23

I saw a quote from Dr. Vivek Murthy today, thanks to On Being. This wonderful conversation was led by Krista Tippett with our Surgeon General Dr. Murthy and Dr. Richard Davidson from the Center for Healthy Minds.

It read,

What can we do in our lives, through the decisions we make, the choices we make, to tip the scales in the world away from fear and toward love?

Maybe because I’ve begun writing again, my senses were attuned to the message. Dr. Murthy seemed to articulate the reason I stopped writing on this blog for more than a year in a fascinating dialogue about well-being summarizing what I’m doing here blogging at all. Reintegrating the concept that our minds and bodies are inextricably connected and this needs more attention in physical medicine.

I stopped writing because I was edging on perpetuating more fear than love. As the pandemic wore on, and the world around me felt more full of anger, I became angry. I could not focus on love and my writing became rantings and ravings about anti-maskers and non-vaxers. I was tipping the scales toward the vocal minority of fear therefore amplifying their voice.

It should be noted that when I use the word fear in this context, I am not talking about precautions. There is an appropriate level of fear in a pandemic - fear that we will lose loved ones, fear that we will become sick and lose our jobs, fear that we will continue to see the broken systems and structures goes without notice. Fear, in this case, is anger and vitriol and hatred. The opposite emotions of compassion and love.

In many instances, I opened up the blog and started to shut down altogether. The site represents a singular experience of a chronic disease and was really more about my way through healing after an illness before the pandemic than as information for anyone else. This was not intended to be a writing project about one virus. Each time, though, I hesitated and listened to a place deep in me that said, “just wait a bit longer to make that decision.” I would close my computer and ignore the site, and writing, for a few more weeks before doing this again. Rinse and repeat.

Then, I got Covid. After all of the anticipation and concern for my already battered lungs, the precautions and false alarms, and there it was. The positive result arrived as I lay in bed knowing the virus was in my body before the email came through. Viruses look for the path of least resistance in our population. This particular easy path is what is commonly known as our “vulnerable populations.” Elderly and the chronically ill. I don’t know how or why I thought I could avoid the virus. As my doctor said, “It’s everywhere.” But, as it goes, my physical symptoms waxed and waned while the survival became a marathon challenge for the mind.

No way out but through.

In her book Real Change by Buddhist and author Sharon Salzburg, she says,

“Many people say these days that society is broken, but as we consider repairing its fractures, we also need to look to see what is not broken,” (p. 118).

The physical and mental isolation of living with CF in a pandemic also isolated my senses of what wasn’t broken.

I opened up the notes app on my phone and started dumping words, sometimes sentences, about my experience. Dump the rubbish, find the good.

The goodness came in the form of texts, poems, flowers, a kick-ass cozy sweater, cards, soups, books, tea, and voicemails sending me love. A tidal wave of small efforts done with great care began to tip my own scales away from anger and blame to what actually matters and the people that matter. The system of community is not broken.

So, I’m (slowly) back. I’m making choices and decisions that feel helpful to me and hopefully work in support of others lying in the path of least resistance.

I'm back to this blog because writing is one way that I heal. To heal my body, I rest and take walks. To heal my mind and spirit, I write (and take walks). I am back to my belief that it is quite useful to have my singular narrative about living in a chronically healing body during the pandemic. Maybe it will create touchpoint for compassion or empathy or even a twinge of recognition for those who continue to tilt toward fear.

Cystic fibrosis is challenging to understand during non-pandemic times. I hope it will create compassion for those who’s are are the path of least resistance and how we tilt toward love.

KK | 12 06 2021


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