On being thankful for what shows up in my life

Some years ago waking up at around 2am pain was present in my chest and breathing occurred as painful and difficult.  “Aha asthma attack, relax, focus on breathing, all will be ok”.  After waiting for ten minutes or so it did not get better, it got worse.  Walked to the windows, open them wide, stood there and breathed.  “This will make the difference, it has always done so before.”  It doesn’t make a difference, pain becomes worse, breather becomes shallower. “Am I going to die?”  Panic.  Then the

Thought arrives with absolute conviction “Time is running out, I am going to die this night”.  Absolutely calm.  “What is there to do before I die?”  Another thought “Ring the people closest to me, those that have contributed the most, the people who will miss my presence.”  Rang mobile phones and then peacefully waited for death to arrive.  Completely calm.   Later, knocking on the door.  Walked slowly down the stairs and opened the door.  “It’s my sister!”  She drives me to hospital, doctor does his stuff, I live.

More difficulty in making peace with ‘ill health’

Spent my childhood in and out of hospitals – didn’t like it one bit.  You can argue that I should be grateful:  ‘Ill health’ was the reason that my father bought my mother and us (2 boys) over to the UK from Pakistani administered Kashmir.  If that had not happened life would have turned out differently – probably would not be writing this.

Nonetheless, ‘ill health’ does not sit well with me, it shows up as unwanted, an unwelcome guest.  ‘Ill health’ signifies lack of control and dependency on others – detest not being in control, detest being dependent on others, that is the story of childhood.   “Death is preferable to being ill and dependent on others!”  That is what shows up for me again and again.  Looks life life has other plans.

Not been feeling well for the last month or so.  Ignored it at first and got on with stuff – work, reading, writing, playing… ‘Illness’ did not go away, just got stronger: stomach pain, loss of appetite, tiredness…… Difficult to concentrate on that which interests me including writing this blog. Not able to eat Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  Woke up this morning with stomach ache, could not eat, just had tea. Several hours later ate a banana.  Pain, more pain, more pain, toilet.  No lunch.  Mid afternoon: hunger.  Ate portion of omelette.  Pain, pain, pain – afternoon of pain.  I started to feel sorry for myself.

Be Thankful: a wonderful, uplifting poem delivered by a friend far away

Just when the temptation to play ‘victim’ to feel sorry for myself was the strongest, I received a gift from a friend:

BE THANKFUL

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

Getting present to that which calls forth thankfulness/gratitude

All the days and times good health has been present

All the times when ‘ill health’ was present and the doctors and nurses who did their best to make me better

The delicious food I have eaten in restaurants around the world – Paris, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Rome, Milan, London, Madrid, Lisbon, Stuttgart, Copenhagen, Amsterdam……

Fine, freshly cooked, delicious meals served by my wife for the last 17+ years – rare is the time that the food was not fresh, not delicious

The beautiful places that I have spent time in / trekked in: Yosemite, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, The Pyrenees, The Alps, Lake Annecy, Lake Geneva, coastline of Senegal……

Sports played/enjoyed: tennis, badminton, table-tennis, cricket, football, trekking, cycling, paragliding – how great it is to be in the air hanging by a ‘thread’!

Today, grateful for the sunshine on my face, the bench in garden to rest upon, love and kindness that flows from daughter…..

Today, grateful for the care shown by doctors and that live in country where medical treatment is free.  Friend in USA is in similar condition and he has no access to healthcare – not rich enough for medical insurance, not poor enough for free medical care!

So much to be grateful for: beauty of flowers in the garden, the wonder/joy of music, ‘taking a course’ in existential philosophy via the iPad that was gifted to me by my sister, listening to the kind words of daughter, hug from daughter, can move, can write, can read, can touch, can be and do so much.

Grateful that am not in living hell like that which lived/experienced by JDB who found himself fully awake and locked into a ‘dead’ body.

Thankful and grateful for the life that had gone by, the life that is, the life that lies ahead.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

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