Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ending Our Arguments with Reality

Here's a question for contemplation: What aspect of reality do you argue with? I was diagnosed with a chronic illness (ME/CFS/FM) 35 years ago. Sometimes it involves pain. At other times, there is little pain but a prostrating exhaustion. Really- getting out of bed and walking five steps can take an hour or more. 

Here's what I've noticed: I find it easier to cope with pain, particularly acute pain that renders me immobile, than I do exhaustion. 

When I realized this, I started to pay attention, mostly out of curiosity. With pain I adjust, adapt, focus on my breath, take meds that sometimes help and cancel other commitments. I don't argue with pain. 

But I argue with exhaustion. I push. I limp along when I should be lying down. I quibble with the "reality" of exhaustion. The inevitable outcome of this is more pain- and then I can surrender. 

Why? Why this resistance to, this argument with exhaustion? 

We argue with the aspects of reality that we've learned (often unconsciously) to see as somehow morally inferior to other aspects. My very Protestant-work-ethic-driven family didn't make much room for human frailty in any form that interfered with our ability to work. Or as my mother has put it every time we've spoken over thirty-five years: "What's that thing you claim you have to get out of keeping your house the way you know you should?" 

In my birth family pain was acceptable (albeit something that "should not" stop you for long) but exhaustion was weakness, a moral failing, an illusion, a con, evidence of laziness. 

This arguing with reality is largely unconscious, because a lot of the values we have were implicitly taught. For now, I'm just noticing and being with my argument with exhaustion when it arises. There are, of course, conditions we can change. But efforts to do so are more likely to be successful if we start by seeing and accepting what is. And sometimes what is, is beyond our control. When that's the case, arguing with any aspect of the present moment robs us of joy, ~Oriah

When I saw this photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming, I mentally titled it, "Gentle Morning." Gentleness is the quality I try to bring to myself when I catch myself arguing with reality, because yelling at the aspect that feels compelled to argue just pushes it into the unconscious where it can mutter endlessly and stop me from accepting the gift of the day- even a day lived horizontally. :-)


  1. The picture you shared also reminds me of a Rumi poem you shared several years ago in a book. It was about walking in the pink light of morning and being okay in the not knowing...
    Thank you for the reminder.

  2. This post really resonates with me right now. I started experiencing chronic pain for the first time in my life recently and it's something I deal with in the midst of also being a bit of a workaholic that leaves me in a constant "argument with exhaustion". I seem to only make room to stop for pain but not for when I'm exhausted. Thank you for sharing your insight. Time for rest. The to do list can wait!