By Louise Wild
A few days before Halloween of 2008, I had a bad fall that resulted in four days in the hospital, two and a half weeks in a rehab facility, and several weeks of therapists' home visits. During this experience, I relearned several lessons that I had been ignoring, or to which I was insufficiently paying attention.
Lesson 1 – Appreciate simple things
Being a task-oriented person, I didn't take time to "stop and smell the roses." During my recovery, I was forced to slow down and, in doing so, relearn an appreciation of everyday sights, such as the beauty of nature, one of God's greatest gifts to us. Fall flowers, colorful trees, birds that had not yet migrated, bright sunny days, and clear, star-filled nights were sights I took time to enjoy and for which I was grateful.
Certain everyday experiences became more meaningful to me. Just by getting up in the morning and realizing I had been given another day to spend on this earth made me, as Deepak Chopra wrote, "open to the wonder and delight of living a human life." Being able to linger over my cup of tea and read the daily newspaper more thoroughly felt luxurious to me. My eating habits changed greatly. Rather than rush through a meal, because I had something to do or someplace to go, I ate more slowly and enjoyed the taste of the simplest of foods. A leisurely shower instead of a two-minute rushed one was a treat. Things that I had grown so used to seemed new again.
Lesson 2 – Cherish your friends and family
My family was very solicitous during my whole ordeal. My husband visited the hospital and rehab twice a day, giving up his normal activities, including playing golf. Plus he made calls, did errands, brought me what I needed from home, and generally gave me support. I was so grateful for this. The only other family I have locally is a cousin, whom I see occasionally, but my children and grandchildren called often, and some wrote touching notes. One of my sons even offered to come from quite a distance and build a ramp at our house if I needed one, which I didn't; and one of my daughters was willing to come and get me and bring me to her home in Massachusetts, but that wasn't necessary.
You learn quickly which friends you can count on to be there for you. These friends, including my friends at A.R.E., took time from their busy lives to call, visit, send cards and flowers, and bring me books, magazines, and snacks. They lightened the dreariness of rehab and warmed my heart. I relearned how precious family and friends are, and I wish I could adequately express this sentiment to them.
Lesson 3 – Prayer is powerful
I am convinced that my rapid recovery was due, in large part, to the prayers that were being said for me. The collective effect of prayers of friends, family, the Glad Helpers at A.R.E., and people I didn't even know, was so strong that I couldn't possibly do anything but get better. I could feel that strength urging me on during "down" times, and I realized again that the power of prayer is very real. We have been given examples of that power throughout history, but there's nothing like first-hand experience to really convince one. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have to bring about change.
Lesson 4 – Don't let ego rule
Most of us are concerned about our appearances. We try to be clean, attractively dressed, and have hairstyles that are suited to us. In rehab, being clean was not a problem, as we had daily baths or showers. And looking attractive was not a major concern, at least not for me. I gave my ego a vacation and hung around much of the time in hospital gowns, wore little makeup, and presented myself to people with hair that was badly in need of cutting and styling. And I didn't care!
Also, most of us try to be interesting conversationalists. However, rehab is not conductive to stimulating conversation. Some of my visitors were glad that I managed to stay awake. I imagined that people who visited me talked about how terrible I looked and how dull I was becoming, but I didn't care! I felt that people needed to accept me as I am. It was kind of freeing to let the ego rest.
Now that I'm home and out and about, I'm a little more careful of my appearance and conversation, but I still have my bad days. I try hard not to hurt or offend anyone, but if I'm not at my best, so be it.
This is just a small example of letting the ego go. On a larger scale, I now realize that the ego rules too much of our lives and keeps us from knowing who we truly are. I intend to be more aware of that.
Lesson 5 – Life and health are fleeting
We all realize that we can be alive and feel healthy one minute and be struck down by a heart attack, stroke, or accident the next. Therefore, we should pay more attention to our lifestyles, our choices, and our movements. After the fall, in which I had broken my wrist and fractured my pelvic bone, I felt blessed that I was still alive, did not require surgery, had a good prognosis for recovery, and still had my wits about me. While in rehab, I had seen people who had been mentally damaged and/or who might never make it out of their wheelchairs. I felt grateful that I wasn't in either of those situations. I was determined to pursue my recovery so that I could go home as soon as possible. Compared to average recovery time, mine was considered rapid.
Now, I move around much more carefully, pay attention to my choices, and pray that I will continue to be well.
We've been told that everything happens for a reason. When I was well enough to think about my situation, I wondered, Why? Why me? Well, maybe what happened to me happened in part so that I could relearn some truths, such as those I have listed. After all, aren't we here on "Classroom Earth" to learn, and in some cases, to relearn? So slow down, be careful, be grateful, pray, and keep learning!
Louise Wild received her M.Ed. from Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., and worked as an editor for educational publishing companies and as a reading specialist in public schools. She and her husband, Ken, were introduced to the Cayce material in Massachusetts and, after moving to Virginia Beach in 1989, immediately joined A.R.E. Wild worked as an A.R.E. front-desk staff member for 10 years before retiring in 2009. She continues to volunteer, teaching the Sunday noon meditation class, giving survey lectures twice per month, and spending one morning each week at the Volunteer Call Center. She is a mother of four and grandmother to eight wonderful children.