If you can imagine it, you can achieve it, if you can dream it you can become it.-William Arthur Ward
Journal entry adapted from April 24, 2021. Today I went outside to plant some seeds and sit—just sit—in the woods for a little while. My body has humbled me yet again. After nine years of working to convince myself that William Arthur Ward’s (1921-1994) words could be true for me, and I could magically cure myself, I’ve come ‘round to accepting this slightly different interpretation:
If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can can make it happen if you can generate enough cash to hire someone to help you.
I was already having a higher than usual morning of pain, but I’m decent at managing that, so I got on with my gardening plans. Then I got dizzy when I tried to plant the seeds and toppled over. This is not new but also not a common thing. I lay on the grass for awhile, glad for my tic-repellent attire, until I felt better. The morning glory seeds still aren’t in the ground, though I did manage to shove in the two pretty trellises adorned with dragonflies that are awaiting the potential climbing vines. I failed on the seeds, but had a nice time looking at the passing clouds. My next wish was to get into the low-lying woods area behind my house so I could actually sit in the place I had been designing off-and on all Winter. I have magickal plans for this area, and I wanted to see how practically realistic they might be.
It’s a short walk to the place, maybe 25 yards, but even “Wheelie Beast,” my large-wheeled chair, can’t make it so I used my crutches. I found a log to sit on after navigating the mess Winter’s toll had deposited upon the ground. I recognized immediately that any pleasure or creative thinking I’d anticipated were now crowded out by nausea, tachycardia, and the rapidly oncoming condition I’ve come to call “The Mack Truck.” The Mack Truck requires me, in fairly short-order, to get horizontal in a quiet, safe place under warm covers. It can take from an hour to days for me to return to some level of normalcy.
Yet again, my body humbled me. My mind, which functions constantly at warp speed and is almost always hopeful and full of work-arounds and creative ideas, is just beginning to wake-up to the reality that my body can no longer keep up with it. I used to be able, to greater or lesser extents, to achieve things I imagined and dreamed up. I had a lot of physical grit. On this morning, my mind finally seemed to grip onto the reality that this physical health situation does not seem to be getting better no matter how hard I try to think or pursue my way out of it. This is why I have begun this journal. It is a journal of acceptance of what IS, rather than of why they are what they are, or what I wish they were.
I am an extremely independent person. Some would say unhealthily so. I recoil from asking for help. Simultaneously, I desperately wish for it. There are parts of me inside crying out into the silent wilderness for someone to please come and help me. There is a long and tortured history behind this conflict, and I am working to heal it. The reality of my current life is this: I cannot wait for my emotional healing to complete (does anyone’s ever?) in order to get over my “thing” about asking out loud for help.
I have made progress with this phobia. I have a deeply practical streak that is conscious of my obvious limits: I know I cannot do electrical wiring and plumbing, so I have have found folks to work on my 18th century house. I know I cannot move the gigantic rocks, saw the high-up dead branches, haul the fallen trees, etc.. So I have learned to make calls for professional help. Unfortunately, I have moved to a home in some alternate reality where it is nearly impossible to hire this help. It is as if I stand in the street waving cash and shouting, “Hello! I want to hire you!” and no one responds. Contractors do not return calls or show up. I asked the few who do about this oddity. Their responses are all similar: a nonchalant shrug and, “Most people around here like to do things themselves.”
That response provides an enormous challenge to my practice of asking for help. It triggers my long-held belief: If I cannot fix it myself, I must live with it as it is. It took me years to make sense of Yoda’s instruction to Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not. There is no try.” I wrote about that in an old blog post; it’s a rewrite of Lao Tzu’s teaching from the Tao Te Ching about wu wei wu–effortless effort. I am learning to practice this in my life. Things that would take a contractor hours take me weeks or longer. I spent more than a month building a wheelchair ramp for my kitchen. I am handy, but I have little energy. Slowly, I am learning that part of wu wei wu for me includes an in-between. I don’t have to do it myself slowly, or not do it at all; there is a middle way.
Part of my work now is persevering in seeking help. I am adjusting to the practice of daily calls to professional people until I find someone who will help me. It doesn’t sit well, but it is getting easier. I suppose it is like anything else unfamiliar–uncomfortable, even miserable at first, then just quotidian reality. I have now elicited an agreement from a landscaper person that he will come and clear the woods area for me and do the other yard-y things I cannot do. That was six weeks ago, and he has yet to appear. I shall have to resume my phone harassments for help.
My practice of asking for help on the personal level continues to be…hmmm. I was going to say an utter failure, but that is not true. My continuing failure when it comes to asking for personal help is this: I don’t know yet how to help myself effectively. This is, perhaps, why when my friends ask me how they can help me I never, ever know how to respond. I don’t even know what I need or want, so I always end up saying to them I don’t need help when really there are dozens of things I do need help with. It’s just that I cannot identify them at the time, or if I can, it seems like too much of an imposition. There’s probably a whole separate blog reflection in the making about the deep difficulties of asking/accepting help from friends versus hiring help.
For nine years I HAVE sought help. I tore apart every rigid fiber of my being that screamed to deal with my illnesses myself and went grasping for every straw that might lead to regaining my health and save my life from the implosion that was happening. From chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons, to acupuncturists and aryuvedic practitioners, to physical therapists and equine therapists, to psychotherapists of various trainings and psychiatrists, to…well I have another entry about all of them coming at some point.
Over time I’ve collected a canyon’s worth of strategies and supplements and prescriptions and herbs and apps and and ideas and interventions and equipment and mental images and physical exercises and…you name it, and it’s in my canyon. Over time, I have also been blessed to have found and connected with a handful of humanfolk who have become profoundly precious to me. Now, I’m sitting on the edge of my canyon with my legs dangling over and surveying the beauty and wonder and chaos of it all. I have an abundance help and healing accessible to me, both internally and externally. I’m hoping those parts of me who are screaming, “Help me!” into the silent wilderness can see this. I simply don’t know how to weave it all together.
I suppose this brings me back, full circle, to William Arthur Ward. “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” In my original social media post, I was feeling angry about how this quote drove me in my life because I got it all twisted up in the way I tend to do. Perhaps now the “it” I can imagine and dream is very different.
“It” is the life I find myself living today. A life mostly outside of time because it is in the present. I’m simply here now with whatever is, and I experience that with gentleness, and patience, and compassion, and great love. Yes, I can imagine that and dream that.