As evidenced by my recent posts, I’ve been on a quest to find inspiration and words of wisdom that don’t require an extreme amount of cognitive dissonance from the reality of living with ME/CFS to embrace the proposed positivity and hope. Not long after posting the last blog I found someone on a similar quest in an ME/CFS forum. So with the help of others I’m hoping to update my repertoire soon.
But for now I’d like to take a completely different approach to finding words of solace and incorporate an adage that doesn’t assume you have the energy of a triumphant survivor, unveiling their singed phoenix wings or an expansive reserve of optimism just waiting to be pumped to the surface. What I’ve chosen also helps me to surrender any merit based system of judging my daily activities. It provides a little counter-conditioning to society’s predilection for only placing value on the utility of endeavours or conversely the amount of joy or pleasure experienced. That can conveniently, easily be judged by how well you can distil your fulfilment into a curated social media post.
The words I’ve chosen are not an affirmation or mantra, just a statement that resonates with me, that doesn’t require either a bold or silent strength.
Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life *
This works best if its combined with the maxim that what you decide is art… Is art. That means the little dalliances in arts and crafts activities that range from clay jewellery to photography is a form of art, regardless of the aesthetics (or lack thereof) of the outcome.
It is true that I shouldn’t need a label of “art” to elevate an activity to something meaningful or of value. But the mental gymnastics required to reject society’s expectations of acceptable use of your time is too exhausting. Educating others on why it’s not possible to be living a life out and about in the world is exhausting. Constantly monitoring and pushing back on your internal critique is exhausting. So my preferred coping mechanism is a quick reframe and re-ordering of prestigiousness that helps make a small life feel a little bigger. It also means on the bedbound days, when music or a tv show are the only accessible activity, you can, if you chose, elevate your entertainment options to art.
Art can’t necessarily wash away the metaphorical dust attached to the inescapable limitations and vulnerabilities of a life with ME/CFS. But sometimes you need a song, a character, or a poem to remind you you’re worthy even when you’re not feeling it. To remind you that others are struggling and finding a way to survive. Writers, actors and singers are often communicating through their own open wounds, it is neither idle, frivolous or wasted time to step into their worlds.
Whether its cathartic, entertaining or just washing away some boredom it helped you endure and therefore it was meaningful and purposeful.
NB. The chosen adage has been slightly changed from the original quote due to the problematic source who doesn’t deserve any further credit or acclaim. If you wish to know the source continue reading. I am choosing to reclaim the sentiment of the words while rejecting the speaker of the words.
*Quote source: Pablo Picasso
Image source: University of Luxembourg https://wwwen.uni.lu/media/images/art_is_everywhere3