31 Mar 2014

Being Blind: BENEFIT #1 - You Are the Rose among the Thorns

Maribel with Roses
“But he who dares not grasp the thorn, should never crave the rose.”

Anne Brontë

 Have you noticed how life has a habit of cultivating nasty surprises when you least expect them?

One day, you are happily going about your own business, living a normal life when suddenly, your eyes begin to blur: something is not quite right. You think maybe a visit to the optometrist will fix it, a new pair of glasses perhaps – next thing, you are sitting in a specialist’s office who bears the shocking news – you are going blind.

So here you are, caught in the prickly truth – your life is about to change.

How can you possibly let go of living without sight, to accept the terrifying prospect of having no vision at all?

It would seem unthinkable for most of us but I can offer some good news.

There IS a better way to take hold of this thing they call blindness.

When we choose to look for the symbolic rose among the thorns, life takes on a new perspective.

Rose Wisdom

Believe it or not, it was a yellow rose bush  that recently brought my attention to this valuable life lesson.Rose Wisdom

I was pruning her thorny branches carefully when a huge prickle grabbed my bare arm and hooked deeply into my skin.

Naturally I yelled out, “Let go, you rotten thing. Let GO!”

Then something very strange happened.

With my arm still trapped by the grip of the thorn, the rose bush aligned her wisdom to my thoughts and said, “That’s right. Consider this lesson: you have to let go. You can choose to see the thorn or the yellow rose at the top of my stem. Life is like this.”

Releasing her grip on my skin, more wisdom flowed, “Have you considered how much energy this rose bush has to produce in order to open the tight bud into a flowering bloom for you to admire?”

She released her hold on my bare skin and I considered her message.

When we are gripped by a life-challenge, it is fear that holds us so tightly, we don’t know how to release the pain. We feel afraid, caught up with so many emotions, and, having landed among a patch of brambles so thick, we feel deeply wounded.

So what can you do?

Grasp a brand new attitude!

Let go of fear and put your energy into transforming the thorn of disappointment into a marvellous bloom. Acceptance is key.

“Acceptance is not submission; it is acknowledgement of the facts of a situation,

then deciding what you're going to do about it.”  Kathleen Casey Theisen

Second Hand Rose

When my children were young, it was often at their bubbly birthday parties where the only rose I saw was an inferior one. I desired so much to provide a beautiful day for them, that I became entangled by feelings of vulnerability and limitation.

My competence as a visually-impaired mother was truly challenged. What would seem like a simple visual task to any other sighted host was terribly difficult.

The cake I had so lovingly prepared leaned as magnificently as the tower of Pisa, which only served to cut me up with deep feelings of inadequacy. Inferiority reared her ugly head and congratulated me on being as hopeless as a second-hand Rose.

The children were blissfully unaware of the bitterness trapped in my thoughts. Beneath my smile, I feared not being able to perform as other ‘normal’ mothers I  knew. But my children’s squeals of laughter and exuberance during party preparations was the tonic I needed to encourage me to keep baking the party food.

At Play

I did my best and involved the children to help when they could. But second-hand Rose always managed to push her way into my thoughts with devastating effect at the ironically happy moment of sharing presents.

I heard squeals of delight from the little people and had no idea what they were all looking at.

As laughter ran from one happy child to the next, feelings of exclusion deepened: I was the only person in the room not able to see. I had to mask my feelings of pain of isolation within my clan.

“Oh wow, that’s beautiful. Look at that. Great. Just what I wanted. Cool.”

The chorus of delight continued with the next present in rapid succession, leaving little blind me to ask, “What is it? Can you show me?”

It was hard not to feel a measure of inequality when second-hand Rose insisted on injecting hurtful thoughts into my motherly pride.

 At some point during the festivities, one of my children or a friend glimpsed sad little Rose sitting on the edge of the circle and would kindly fill in the details and describe the present under admiration.

The truth hurt: I was completely dependent on the sensitivity of others to include me in the visual celebration.

The beauty in losing sight

It took me many years to stop listening to second-hand Rose. Quite frankly, her mantra of despair stank. I was forced to scent my inner thoughts with a kinder perfume.

As acceptance of my life became easier to embrace, it was as if I had pruned away the nasty thorns intent on hurting my perceptions of life.

I eventually learned that, if I could see past the pain and disappointment my own thoughts created, I was more likely to gain a sense of empowerment by choosing to see differently.

With the non-judgmental support of my loved ones, I was able to surrender my grasp on the thorns and began to recognise the bud of my true potential – as mother, wife and friend.

It’s true - We can’t escape pain in our lives altogether but knowing we can limit our own  suffering by being in control of our attitude to any given situation is like doing daily positive pruning!

So ... When the bud of a rose first appears, rejoice.

 You have chosen to lift your gaze to the potential in your own life.

Please leave a comment about the personal garden of thought you like to cultivate in your own life.

©Maribel Steel 2014

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