It’s raining today as I write, a chilly, damp, late March Monday. I’m still in layers of sweaters. The heat is on. I’m wearing my spring green wrist warmers to thaw out my fingers and remind myself that warmer weather is on the way. Really.
But this is not what’s preoccupying me this morning. Nor are my latest episodes of living with scleroderma. (Should I write about the odd tic in my left eye? my search for adaptive tools? the challenges of getting dressed?) No. What’s on my mind is just living, right now, right here, wrestling with all that’s at risk around us.
There is the U.S. presidential election, which has me profoundly worried. I have no intent of turning this blog into a political platform for my personal views (or anyone else’s, for that matter). But I have become a political junkie, reading, watching and listening to the best news analysis I can find to stay on top of developments. I also am inexorably drawn to fiction and histories about the rise of demagogues and Fascism. And I am struggling with my own role: What should I be saying, writing, doing in response?
There are other issues that weigh heavily on my mind—not only the proliferation of terrorism, once again making headlines with last week’s attack in Brussels, but the insidious cultural conflicts fueling this evil; the growing disparities between the haves and have-nots of this world and where that will lead as our planet becomes more crowded (which is intrinsically connected to the rise of terrorism); the existential threat of global warming. And, again, I struggle with my response. What will I be able to say, at the end of my life, that I did to help set things right?
I am not one who can easily compartmentalize and shove all this to the back of my mind. In some ways, I envy those who can. I always have to catch myself from spinning in my head about all the what-ifs, whatever is making me feel vulnerable. These days, however, I feel like I’m in a constant state of orange alert. (Obviously, this is not good for my health—physical, mental or spiritual.)
By comparison, my scleroderma and the challenges it presents are just a lot of white noise. I’m confronted by it every minute of every day—how to pick up a cup, handle a pen, turn a key in a lock, put on a sock, brush my teeth. It is frustrating, angering, time-consuming, exhausting, sometimes painful, often a real nuisance. But it is not what concerns me most in my life.
What concerns me are my family, my art, my work, my friends, my community, my country, our planet. What truly preoccupies me is how to live a meaningful life, how to make my small corner of the world a better place. And this is the real point of writing this blog. Living with a chronic disease can absorb a lot of physical, mental and emotional energy—for many good reasons. But it simply is not and cannot be all that we are about. Scleroderma is only a piece of me. It is far from all of me.
Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.
Image Credit: Griszka Niewiadomski