Sometimes I sit around and wonder what my purpose in life is, especially right now when I am struggling with so many physical issues that it makes me feel useless, or like I can’t even live a “regular” life. From what I have heard, this seems to be a common feeling among those suffering from chronic pain or illness, but it doesn’t make it any easier just by knowing it is normal. On bad days where I spend most of my time in bed or on the recliner, I do start to sink into depression and wonder, “Am I really making any difference in this life?” I worry about my impact on others – do I inspire people? Do I encourage people? Do I love enough?
Tonight though, while I was meditating/praying in the bathtub (something I do frequently), I came across an image that made me think maybe I am right where I am supposed to be. Although I am not a Buddhist by religion, I have always respected Buddha and his desire to ease the suffering of others and know the truth. I have often read about Buddha and the great amount of time he spent in self-imposed isolation sitting under the Bodhi tree, determined to stay there until he found some answers. In the traditional story, the evil one sent many distractions to Buddha (beautiful women, bad weather, demonic armies, etc.) to try to lure him away from finding enlightenment, but Buddha continued to sit, determined to become wiser. Eventually, his persistence did pay off and he was granted great wisdom and became known as Buddha, which means “The Awakened One”.
Anyhow, this story flashback made me realize that maybe at this time in my life I am in my own Bodhi sitting phase. Perhaps there is a reason why my illness has come at the same time that I have a strong desire to grow spiritually and find greater wisdom and truth in life. With all the self-imposed downtime that chronic illness provides, I do have plenty of time to read, meditate, study, pray and think deeply. I still hope this illness won’t last forever, I would eventually like to be able to do more and return to a somewhat normal lifestyle, but for now, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for what I’m not able to do. Perhaps, I should focus on what I can do and let the changes happen on the inside for a while.