“Sometimes there are no silver linings.” This is what my daughter said that helped me understand more than I ever have about the Three Principles. Even though my daughter never heard of them, she inherently understood and was able to articulate the concept of innate health.
Earlier this week, I had to put my dog Sabrina to sleep. Sabrina was our little “street dog”. She was tough and scrappy yet incredibly sweet. For almost fourteen years, she was the most consistent part of my daily existence. This doesn’t take away from the joy my family brings to me but in my day to day, she was my constant. Even when my wife and daughter were away for work, relocations, or school, Sabrina was the one living being I was with every day with the exception of overseas travel.
I knew this was day was coming for awhile. In the beginning of 2020, she had a cancerous tumor removed. The surgeon told us that he probably didn’t get all of the cancer. It was likely to spread and we’d be fortunate if Sabrina made it through the summer. While she continued to deteriorate — walking had slowed to a crawl, very questionable hearing and seeing — her spirit was still there. But in the last week, our dog’s once voracious appetite had faded and she could barely move from arthritis. There was no fighting it. It was time.
As I shared with my daughter what I needed to do, I did my best to put on my brave face. I added my best positive thinking noting we should be grateful that here we were, a year later and she was still with us. Finally, my daughter just said “Dad, sometimes there are no silver linings.” She wasn’t saying that to be negative or overly philosophical. In her mind — and as I’ve reflected on it — that is a truth.
While I can share all of the above — gratitude for the extra time with her etc — it still feels like a gut punch. And sometimes things in life will just be that way. For that moment, there may be no bright side and we just have to sit with these feelings. This recent experience has convinced me about the reality that your thoughts help create feelings. You can’t simply push out your thoughts with new, better and wonderful thoughts. So much for the magic of “positive thinking.”
But the Silver Lining thing is what connected some dots for me. If I’m innately healthy, I have the ability to truly experience things — good and bad. I can have thoughts about them — and then not have them as it may happen. So, when we decide we need to think positive thoughts because we’re feeling down, or we should do XYZ because it’s someone’s expectation, we’re acting out of something besides our innate heath. Guilt? A need to please? Whatever it is, it’s going against our true nature. This aspect of being is decisively human and the most beautiful part of our make-up as human beings.
So, have I listened to this inner wisdom in the past few days? Yes and no. I can’t deny that I’ve still tried to think positively. Sabrina is in a better place. Her pain is gone. She’s back with her three doggie brothers (she outlived them all). Yet each time I try this “strategy” my need to create new positive thoughts only serves to remind me about the content of my true thinking.
The strategy is that there is no strategy. There is only our innate healthy ability to feel what we feel when we feel it. Innate health means understanding and accepting that losing someone we love dearly just plain hurts. A lot. Sometimes for a long time. But innate health also means I’m capable of sitting in that hurt and accepting that’s where I am today. I’ll move through it as I can. And I will heal when I heal.
A healthy body works to heal itself in it’s due time depending on the damage done. I believe our hearts do as well.
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
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