March 18, 2015

Notes on Making Peace with an Unexpected Life

Sharing some takeaways of my favorite podcast, SEASON 3, EPISODE 9: MAKING PEACE WITH AN UNEXPECTED LIFE, hope this would help me and others to feel a bit better in the unexpected, unknown life.

Sometimes you have to make room for what’s unexpected because there’s a miracle there. - MICHELE CUSHATT


My favorit part starts from 9:52.

There have been quite a few ups and downs and twists and turns. Well, gratitude in many ways is my lifeline, because when you’re in a position where you’ve lost so much, where every time you turn around you’re losing something else, it can be very easy to focus on all that’s gone. I mean, it’s like you just look around and see carnage everywhere you look. You see all of these different things you’ve lost, things you will never get back, and there’s so much grief that’s a part of that.

The only way to push through grief really is to eventually come to some place where you see what you still have left. So I can either focus on all that I’ve lost or start to identify and recognize what I still have.

That’s not easily done. So I don’t want it to sound trite. I mean, that’s work. That’s serious work, but part of my surgery meant I lost some function of speech. I lost some function of eating ability. I lost my ignorance, being able to naively live, thinking that cancer wouldn’t happen to me, that it only happens to other people. I lost all of those things, which were huge things to grieve. They were massive.

Or I could focus on the fact that, gosh, I have two legs that can go outside and go for a walk, and I have a family. How many people don’t have a family to support them through things like this? I live in the United States, where I have access to great healthcare. How many people don’t have that? I could just start making a list of all of the ways I was incredibly blessed. What it did was just kind of weigh the scales differently, so rather than it being such a huge weight of how much I’d lost, now all of a sudden the scales weighed pretty heavily with what I still had.

This Is Bigger Than Me. I Need Some Help.

One thing I want to say on that topic is that my thought was that I was weak. The fact that I had to do this meant that I wasn’t strong enough. The question I kept asking myself was, “What’s wrong with you, Michele, that you can’t do this? What’s wrong with you?”

That wasn’t the right question. I eventually learned how to be a little kinder to myself. “Well, of course you’re exhausted. Look what has happened.”, “Look what you’ve been through.”, “Look what has gone on.” To offer that grace to yourself a little bit more and understand that true strength is being willing to say, “Okay, this is bigger than me. I need some help,” is important.

Overall Whole

If we look at just one particular chapter, one particular scene, we can get really overcome with the weight of what’s happening in that moment, but if we can step back and see the overall transition and flow of the story that’s taking shape in our lives, all of a sudden it becomes something that’s quite a beautiful piece of art. But you just can’t look at it one slice at a time. You have to see the overall whole, and when you do, you’ll realize there is an artist who’s weaving all things together for some kind of glorious end, and you get to experience it, but you have to step back and take that kind of vantage point.

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Qihuan Piao

Qihuan Piao

(aka kinopyo) is Chinese based in Tokyo. Software writer. He shares stories inspired him in this blog. His infamous line - "I feel calm when I kill those monsters, or people (in game)" shocks his friends deeply.

He also writes in Japanese and Chinese.