This afternoon, I laughed so hard I started crying, called 911 to have paramedics take a workshop participant to the hospital because of a previous injury, ate ginger snaps, and listened to four men read love poems that knocked my (and everyone else’s) socks off. And that all happened within an hour at a writing workshop I facilitated for people living with serious illness.
As I was driving to Kansas City before the writing workshop, I started planning this blog post in my mind, wondering if I might write about how life is so good at putting itself into perspective. Gaining perspective is a frequent by-product of hanging out with people living with cancer, Parkinson’s, MS and other plus-size health challenges, not to mention grief, loss, sadness and tenderness. But as usual, my imagination was surpassed by both the pain of many hues and the courageous imagination people carry and, on occasions like today, share.
As a group, we sent energy and best wishes to our member who needed medical attention, and we drew ourselves into a strong and loving circle as we downed M&Ms, wrote about favorite childhood or current haunts, and laughed ourselves silly. As a facilitator, I practiced my craft, breathing slowly as I rushed down the hall to calmly guide workshop participants into a new writing prompt before gently rushing back down the wall to give the bevy of paramedics more information (“Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes” — Walt Whitman). I’m also humbled by the resiliency of the group and the loving help of one its members in making it possible for me to, for a moment, be in two places at once.
Life itself is a genius at being in two places at once, and showing us — from the vantage point of grief, some of the sweetest love; from the perspective of pain, some of the deepest beauty; from the perch of fear, some of the most exhilarating vistas. I’m grateful to witness the view.