In previous entries I’ve written about the Cardinal Virtues and Heavenly Graces. As quick recap the cardinal virtues include justice, fortitude, prudence and temperance while the heavenly graces are faith, hope and charity.
I grew up in a largely Christian country but was never pressured to adopt any specific system of religious belief. I tend to consider the virtues and graces from a philosophical standpoint rather than a sacred one although I appreciate the variety and richness of the many spiritual connotations. I’m not faithless or heathen, far from it, but I feel the absence of any pressure to conform to an exact religion during my formative years was beneficial to me. It facilitated some soul-searching and wide consideration of the merits of many different belief systems over time. Growing up I tried to integrate the most positive aspects of the many faiths that accorded with the development of my own values and convictions – sometimes successfully and sometimes not. As is the case with any process of complex integration in a constantly evolving system, some things work and some don’t. My approach might be viewed as cheating – cherry picking across centuries of deeply sacred knowledge. I saw it as a means to be open to the best of the many different cultures that exist today as well as those long since lost to the mists of time.
In its archaic form hope is a feeling of trust. I trust that in being open to others, their values and beliefs, I might in turn open the door to shared understanding, compassion and generosity of spirit. I certainly hope that’s the case. Hope in its more modern form can mean salvation, not in strictly religious terms but in common everyday terms such as recovery, escape and rescue.
In my case hope kept me going by insulting me from too much cynicism or despair following the cancer diagnosis. As a simple human rife with a multitude of human failings there were times when I thought things looked very bleak. The tale of Chicken-Licken came to mind on more than one occasion and during those periods I did my best to maintain an alternate stream of thought. Something good would surely happen if I could manage to stay positive and ride out the storm.
In dealing with the tempest I sought to actively adjust my expectations regarding what something good meant for me. I’ve now accepted I will never be physically perfect. I acknowledge that I may never be as physically able as I was pre-treatment. I could chastise myself for these terrible shortcomings or instead I can treat them as ‘what’s so.’ By adopting them as ‘what’s so’ I rediscovered what really matters. I’m here and I don’t have to be this, that or the other. I am and that is all I need to be.
The things I enjoy most don’t come with a big book of rules about how I look, how fast I can run or how quickly I can solve a puzzle. I don’t have to be an athlete, a genius or a super-model to live here. I do it just as I am, flawed, blemished and constituted of some non-human parts thanks to a skirmish with cancer, the kind donation of a pig and the wonders of silicon. Somewhere deep inside I always knew this but a busy life leads to clouded thoughts and confused priorities. I rediscovered the something good that matters most to me is very simple. Love, friendship and the beauty of nature.
It doesn’t matter how long I’m here because these things are all around me and I’m grateful to be well enough to enjoy them, in this moment and for however many moments are yet to come. Miracles are truly wonderful things and I would grant them readily if I could but in their absence I’m happy enough that my simple hopes can be realised.