There is a weight. As time continues to pass, a weight comes with trying to write a blog post. A weight that grows slightly heavier with the gathering of so much to say and nothing to say at all. Like unused cargo in the trunk of a car. Camping gear or something useful that is still in its box and needs to be assembled before the joy can be tangible. A bike, in pieces, that will take you to all of the places you want to explore, deliver the wind to your hair and the flush to your cheeks, but will take effort to put together first. The weight of coming back to writing is a truth.
My thoughts meander through the laundry list of life items I want to talk about, to express, to release from their year-long merry go round in my head. But maybe I should start from the present, since the present is all there is anyway. I can work backwards later if anyone is so inclined.
I drove 2,848 miles last month. 1,424 miles each way, alone but not alone because a dog is an underrated companion. Although it would certainly be more helpful if a dog could share the driving load. Nobody is perfect.
I drove 2,848 miles to escape the sweltering, unbearable, literally unacceptable heat of Texas. The kind of heat that doesn’t allow for all kinds of brilliant little things in life, like gardening and walking the dog and hiking and simply being anywhere in the world that is not your own house. The kind of heat that deprives you of all exploration possibilities and makes you start to feel stir crazy, angry and the tiniest bit insane. On top of it all, if you’re lucky enough to have multiple sclerosis, this level of maddening weather can be compounded by extra numbness and blurred vision and all sorts of other fun ailments. For me, a newfound experience of depression and off-the-charts fatigue were the symptom winners that made the strongest cameos. You get it. Not exactly the most pleasant summer and 2,848 miles seemed like a worthy endeavor.
My dad lives 2,848 miles away from my home in Texas, on the coastline of North Carolina. When I planned and embarked on this road trip I was certain of why I was going and what I would encounter. 10 degrees cooler weather with 100 percent more breeze, and a first-ever solid chunk of quality time spent with my father. And it was all there and ready for me with open arms, and just as lovely and as needed as I had imagined. Dog walks every day, concerts in the park, puppy prances in the ocean, and mornings out on the deck with a cup of coffee and a book. What a feeling of perfection to land exactly where you want to, in the heart of a solution to a problem.
But something else just as wonderful and totally unexpected was lurking in the background, just as it was with my MS diagnosis. By the end of my five-week dad adventure I was confident I had been escaping something just as prevalent and undesirable as the heat. In Texas I had been feeling lonely. I had teetered past the point of quality alone-time and dipped a few toes into a life of isolation. And it had been making me very, very sad. Once I was in NC and in the presence of at least one person at all times, that sadness was almost instantly replaced by a feeling of connectivity and energy that I honestly had no idea was missing. Feeling like myself again, with my battery recharging, I was acutely aware for the first time that it wasn’t just the weather.
In 2017 when I was told I have MS, I encountered all of the thoughts and fears any person would imagine. Worry about what it all meant and where it would all lead. But a few months later a distinct revelation snuck into the foreground and has been my guide ever since. Multiple sclerosis woke me up to the fact that I was living a life half asleep. A fully unexpected gift of awakening to the present moment and my body and all things – including disease – that come along with it. Without MS I would have no idea I was lacking gratefulness, compassion, and a loving value for myself. Without driving 2,848 miles I would have very little concept of what was making me so sad.
Sometimes the gift of the unexpected is the only thing that can lift a weight.
Photo by Maizal Najmi from Pexels