Today's HAWMC prompt invites us to visit some past mistakes and look at lessons we've learned the hard way. This may be the only way I ever learn anything, aside from some academic, linguistic and culinary stuff! An additional difficulty for me in writing this is that there are so many things I'm still in the process of learning, still slamming into the wall over--I'm not in a position to say I've learned them yet.
On the other hand, there's an obvious "hard lesson" theme that's been in resonance from the very first paragraph of my very first post on this blog. I confessed to being "in recovery from black and white thinking," which is part of why my blog has the name it does.
I'll say a bit more about that in the current "health activism" context, but first I want to talk about it in the context of the eagle.
Eagles don't usually like to land so close when we're around, but juveniles like this one are sometimes a bit more forward. Goofy guy... But then we noticed something wasn't quite right.
He couldn't put weight on his right foot. He ended up lying down like a pheasant, right on the edge of our bluff, in a patch of sun...
...and stayed there for a couple hours. I've never seen an eagle lie down like that before!
Legally, you're not supposed to feed eagles, and it's a federal offense to kill one. But at this point, with the eagle in our yard, clearly suffering, Phil was wondering whether he should put it out of its misery. And we definitely thought it right to put out some food nearby, to give the poor bird a chance.
As it turned out, he did take off eventually, and flapped raggedly away. I wonder if he'll make it--probably not. Been a long, rough winter, there are a lot of eagles here, and they are merciless toward weakness. But this is definitely an example of where black and white did not apply!
In terms of health issues, here are some lessons I've learned or am learning about black-and-white thinking:
(1) "The mainstream" isn't all toxic. Many people who are drawn to alternative health believe everything about the mainstream is toxic and evil, from the government to the water supply to all and every pharmaceutical medication in every and all contexts to conventional diagnoses. Cancer is a disturbance in the energy flow, mental health issues are invasions by unwanted guests that need to be released or exorcised. For a person holding these beliefs who suffers any kind of health issue, it quickly becomes impossible to participate in any kind of regular society. You can't work for "the machine," you can't wear regular clothes, or keep up with world news.
I lived like that for many years, and kept company with some amazing people. However, it wasn't an overall positive for my health or my forward momentum in life. Recognizing that there are good people in 'the mainstream' and good work I can do there has been an emotional and beautiful process, and I have Phil to thank for tutoring my transition.
(2) Diagnoses can be useful--especially if you have (a) health condition(s) and are wanting to function in the mainstream. Diagnoses offer self knowledge, and also offer the opportunity to connect and support/be supported by other people with the same condition, who are able to relate to one another in ways never before experienced. If you don't have a framework for identifying the problem, how can you find a solution?
If I hadn't been willing to re-enter the mainstream, I wouldn't now be in my MFA Program that I love so much. I wouldn't be teaching, or participating in and facilitating writers groups. I wouldn't be getting invited to share my poems at local events. And if I didn't see my naturopath and therapist regularly, take my meds, acknowledge the triggers and freakout tendencies and strive to find ways to smooth those over, I wouldn't be able to do any of the above.
My life is richer and more functional (yes, even now when I'm at the end of my rope!) as a result.
What's something YOU learned the hard way?