Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Today I Love Divinity

I don’t believe in a traditional view of God. As an Atheist, I don’t think someone or something of omnipotent design would bother with the minutia of our insignificant lives. After all, you don’t see astrophysicists hanging out with high school dropouts, do you? Prayer is a concept of particular issue for me. If it is all part of some divine plan, then it has already been decided and an individual seems to think that saying a few magical words in their head either individually or in a group will appeal to a supreme being and convince he or she to change their mind. I do believe there is something larger than myself. If we are the supreme beings in the universe, then the universe is royally screwed. I cannot deny that every once in a while, it feels as if something supernatural has happened. This weekend was one such an event. 

As a part of my health challenges, I deal with profound fatigue. Some days are worse than others, but even small efforts can wear me out for days. There are days when I’m not sure which is worse, the chronic pain or the fatigue. Both leave me mentally and physically drained and challenges my ability to function. The anxiety which tortures most of my day presents itself in a myriad of symptoms, and agoraphobia is one of many. Just leaving my apartment for a quick grocery trip can tax my ability to cope and leaves me worn and feeling aged. I have been relying on the weekends for a reprieve, since most weekdays I have a doctor appointment or other pressing reason to leave my apartment. My case manager Kristin, who transports me to various appointments and errands has been very patient with the number of times I need to cancel a trip. Sometimes I am too overwhelmed to go out another day even though Kristin makes it as easy as it can be. Despite living in a building with several hundred of other people, I feel safe and secluded within the confines of my small space. It brings me comfort knowing no one or nothing can violate my space without my expressed permission. I can choose to participate in social media, or I can lurk on the threads. I have complete control to what extent I choose to socialize. 

When you live with that level of anxiety, even planning an outing you will enjoy is stressful. This past Saturday was one such event. My daughter wanted to take me to see “It.” Being a huge Stephen King fan, I really wanted to see this in the theater and be able to experience the horror movie larger than life and in surround sound. More than that, I wanted to spend some time with my daughter. I haven’t seen her in a while. I had to take the bus from Akron, OH to Canton, OH. It’s an hour and fifteen minute trip once I get to the terminal. She would bring me home, but I had to get to her. I had planned on taking the bus in early to spend some time with my best friend, who I hadn’t seen in quite some time either. When Friday came, the anxiety began to rear its ugly head. I retreated inside of myself and tried to get some rest in order to better tolerate the trip. I knew I would have fun, but pain and fatigue were going to be my unwelcome companions. I wondered if the fun would outweigh the misery. By Saturday morning, I was already worn out and stressing about canceling the trip.

I awakened the first time around 2pm. I could have made the trip in early if I hurried and got myself together, but I could barely stay awake. I sent a text to my best friend letting her know I wasn’t going to make it. My daughter called me to see when the last bus was going to come in so she could plan which showing time would work out best. I told her I wasn’t feeling well, which was true. She did not want me to cancel. She played the guilt card. If there is a card to be played, that’s a good one. It works almost all the time. I fell back asleep. 

I awakened at 6:08pm and the last bus left for Canton at 6:28pm from the downtown terminal. I gathered my things as quickly as I could and ran out of the building. I didn’t think I could walk the distance quickly enough. I went to the bus stop outside of my building to text an inquiry of when the next bus was heading downtown. The reply was 7:07pm. I forgot the schedules were a bit wonky on the weekends. I was going to have to walk to the terminal. I looked at my phone and the time was 6:16pm. I had just 12 minutes. I started out walking as quickly as I could. I’ve never made it in 12 minutes before, but maybe the bus would be running a bit late. It happens. I had to at least try. I quickened my pace. 

I was breathless as I rounded the corner, near the first stop after leaving the terminal. I strained to see the bus number coming toward me. Nothing makes you feel old faster than a blurry bus sign coming at you. It wasn’t my bus. I didn’t think my bus came in this direction after leaving the terminal, but I kept the slightest vein of hope alive. I was really trying to make it. I didn’t want to disappoint my daughter, or myself. The next bus rounded the corner, and it wasn’t my bus either. My anxiety was rising with each bus I passed, knowing many of the buses were pulling out of the terminal after they all rounded up and waited for transfers. Surely the number 81 was among them. I made it to the stop and read the sign. As I thought, my bus didn’t come in this direction. It was a dedicated bus going south into Canton, a couple smaller cities away. It would be heading for the freeway. I was still blocks away from the terminal. I checked my phone. It was 6:28pm. My heart sank as I tried to figure out how I was going to tell my daughter I had missed my bus. I continued toward the terminal. It’s possible the bus could be late. I didn’t think it was much of a chance, but I wouldn’t know unless I tried. 

I rounded the next corner and I had the terminal in view. It was still a few blocks away, but the number 81 would be parked on the side of the terminal closest to me. There wasn’t a single bus stopped. The terminal looked bleak, quiet and desolate without a bus in sight and no visible sign of anyone else at the station. Discouraged, I sat on the curb, exhausted and in pain. In my hurry, I had forgotten to take my pain medication and pushing myself so hard to make the bus pushed the limitations of my body. I sat there wondering what was the best thing to do. I was close to the terminal, but at this point, I needed to admit defeat and go home. I was too tired to walk back so even if I had to wait until the next bus round up, it would be better than trying to walk back in failure and pain. I got up and began the first steps to returning home. I was disappointed. I had overcome all my excuses in order to meet my daughter, but I had set myself up for failure by waking up so late. Each step I took was heavier than the last.

I got within a block and a half of the terminal when a single bus pulled in and parked where my bus should be. My heart skipped a beat and suddenly I was renewed with a fresh burst of adrenaline. Could it be my bus? I didn’t understand how it could be my bus, but I was too close to risk missing it now. I picked up my pace. The last several feet of the trip was a slight upgrade, and I felt gravity trying to push me down even as my goal might finally be within reach. I didn’t know if it was my bus, and I wouldn’t know until I reached it, but I had hope. I climbed that little hill, determined to get to the bus before it left its assigned slot. I got within a few feet of the bus and I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was my bus! How could this be? 

Breathless, I asked the driver how much time I had before he left. I had 12 minutes, which was just enough time to go into the terminal and get a soda from the machine. Among other things I had forgotten in my quest to catch the bus, I didn’t bring anything to drink and I was mad with thirst. Although it was officially fall in Ohio, typically a time for cooling weather and fall leaves, it was in the upper eighties. I was sweated wet. I made it into the terminal only to see signs on all the vending machines “out of order.” The only vending machine operational was the candy and chips. If that was the worst of my night, I wasn’t going to let it bother me. I had made the bus. 

I returned to the bus and paid my fare. I settled into a seat and relaxed for the first time since I had awakened. I began to fix my hair and apply a bit of makeup. I marveled at all the decisions I made to get me to this point. I awakened so late, I didn’t have much hope at all of making my bus but I got myself together and tried anyway. I watched as buses left the lineup and approached the first stop and I did not give up despite the evidence I was not going to make my bus. I continued on even after I saw the time on my cellphone, with mounting evidence I was not going to make my bus. I sat down in despair when I had the terminal in eyesight and saw the evidence of a vacant terminal. I chose to continue to the terminal to take a bus back to my apartment after clear evidence I had indeed missed my bus. I had made a series of decisions that despite the evidence in front of me, I was going to defy logic and give it my best shot. Because of my determination, I was on my way to see my daughter. I was going to see a movie I wanted very badly to see. Then I remembered the last time I made the trip to Canton. That time too, I had set myself up for failure. I left my apartment a little too late. I missed the bus to take me to the terminal by two minutes. I had to walk to the terminal and was unsure if I could walk fast enough to catch the Canton bus. I gave it my best effort and I had succeeded in making that bus as well. Suddenly it seemed as if divine providence had interceded on my behalf not once, but twice. Both times, against all odds, I caught my bus. It certainly felt like a guardian angel had intervened on my behalf. It felt as if divinity had intervened. 

Both times I had a good time with my daughter, simply having fun and building memories. Those times are priceless but in my misery, I forgot how precious those times are and how seldom they come along. I needed to be reminded my life cannot be about misery, it cannot be about fatigue, pain, and anxiety. Every day I cancel something I would like to do as I give in to the failings of my body, my spirit fails a bit with it. I need times of joy and laughter to replenish my spirit and mend my broken soul. Those are the times that will get me through the hours and days I spend in bed, too fatigued to move more than necessary, or in too much pain to desire a social experience. When you fight pain day after day, you begin to fear doing anything that may bring it on. It’s easy to forget joy when most of your time is spent in misery. 

So today I love divinity. When you look at the odds and all odds are against you, it would seem that something supernatural paved the way to success. Together with my determination, divine providence led the way to create memories with my daughter. I may not believe in a god, but I’m unwilling to discount a supernatural force when failure seemed like the only logical option.

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