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Author Topic: Service to others and discouragement  (Read 2140 times)

rous54

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Service to others and discouragement
« on: January 23, 2018, 12:57:14 pm »
Hi,

I have recently been recovering from an ailment and I am feeling much better about it.  So since I have been finding the Goddess and considering her the Creatrix I have a different outlook on things and I have been really grateful to her that I am feeling better.  I have even felt a call for action to thank her by wanting to go out and help people.  The way I am thinking about it is that since I am feeling well and I am here on earth I can serve the Goddess.

However yesterday with my new found enthusiasm, I got news that a member of the family who is around 35 years of age is battling again with cancer and now it is spreading.  This unfortunately discouraged me because I thought what would she do to be able to serve the Goddess with cancer.

So how do you deal with this news?  I feel so sad for her and feel powerless in trying to do something because what if one day I get an illness that would eventually become fatal?

Thanks.

Adonia

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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2018, 01:10:49 pm »
I feel so sad for her and feel powerless in trying to do something because what if one day I get an illness that would eventually become fatal?

I don't know if my perspective is at all helpful.

I can't... I don't understand being hung up on this, because I'm fully aware that one day I will get an illness that will eventually become fatal.  Everyone dies, and that includes me.

Since I don't know when that's going to happen, if I'm going to help the world, if I'm going to create, if I'm going to live and love and be, I need to do it now.  That's the only way to guarantee that it's going to happen.
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rous54

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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2018, 01:21:26 pm »
I can't... I don't understand being hung up on this, because I'm fully aware that one day I will get an illness that will eventually become fatal.  Everyone dies, and that includes me.

Darkhawk,

Thank you for your perspective, I am indeed hung up on this at the moment. I feel it is a dim outlook to think that death is imminent all the time.  I don't know if this is a sufficient explanation.

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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2018, 01:27:47 pm »
Thank you for your perspective, I am indeed hung up on this at the moment. I feel it is a dim outlook to think that death is imminent all the time.  I don't know if this is a sufficient explanation.

But you're talking about being afraid to do things because ... sometime you might die?

I consider myself to have an obligation to act - I worry about leaving things undone, because I didn't do them.  Acknowledging my own finitude means acknowledging that if I'm going to do good I can't afford to put it off into a distant future.

(I consider that quite a good thing, as the world as a whole can't afford to keep putting things off into the distant future; I'm also keenly aware that people from my generation and younger are inheriting the bills that others didn't see fit to worry about paying.)
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rous54

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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2018, 01:31:36 pm »
But you're talking about being afraid to do things because ... sometime you might die?


What if it is me who has the cancer? Would I be able to serve others?

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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2018, 01:45:22 pm »
What if it is me who has the cancer? Would I be able to serve others?

Plenty of people do.  (I mean, one of my favorite Kemetic researchers recently developed surprise brain cancer.)

And even if the illness is so disabling that people can't do certain things anymore, that doesn't unmake and erase what they did before they got ill.
as the water grinds the stone
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rous54

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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2018, 01:54:08 pm »
Plenty of people do.  (I mean, one of my favorite Kemetic researchers recently developed surprise brain cancer.)

I don't know for me it seems discouraging.  Still can't understand it.

Thanks anyways.

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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2018, 03:21:33 pm »
What if it is me who has the cancer? Would I be able to serve others?

Hi there. Yes, you would. If you chose.

Let me lay out some different things for you, so this is a bit long, but I want to explain my experiences in case they're helpful to you. I live a life that is restricted by health things already, around the level of many kinds of early stage cancer treatment (though with fewer actual medical appointments.)

I have more than half a dozen chronic illnesses, none of which are likely to kill me any time soon, but two of which have the potential to kill me suddenly if a cascade of things goes wrong. Two of my other conditions put me at a higher risk of stroke. (I live alone, so one of the things I think about is what if something happens when no one's expecting to hear from me, since there's a narrow window for the best stroke recovery treatments.)

I've had some of these conditions since I was a teenager, but about half of them were diagnosed when I was in my mid-thirties or later (I'm now 42.)

I've had two periods of time where one or more things that go wrong with my body have seriously impacted my ability to function (one bad enough that reading for 5 minutes at a time was beyond me, and then six+ months of migraines that seriously impacted my ability to cook, do household stuff, or drive, never mind work.)

I have lots of friends who have chronic stuff going on, and most of us have periods of being more functional, and then periods of being a lot less functional (because something's flaring, because a med isn't working for us anymore, because we get a cold and lose the next month+ to recovering, because something changes in our lives and suddenly doing everything else is a lot harder.)

When I was 14, my father was diagnosed with cancer, and he died when I was 15 (and a month and 10 days). He was a professor, and he was teaching up until the day before he died. Some of his best lectures were given in his last six months. He checked my homework for me the night before he went to the hospital for the last time. He sorted out ongoing planning for his grad students, so they could finish their degrees. All sorts of things.

And this forum has had several long-term members with serious ongoing health issues, three of whom are remembered in the sidebar, Chavi, Elspeth, and Marilyn. They were all continuing to share and contribute to this community and others up until they died.

All of which is to say, I think about 'how do I do things I care about, even if my body is not able or up to helping with that?' an awful lot.

My answer is fundamentally the same as Darkhawk's. I don't know when my last day is going to be - none of us do - but there's going to be one. I live my life being aware of that - and also being aware I won't get to do all the things I like. (Sometimes for health reasons, but often just because no human can do all the things they want ever in the world: we have limits of time and resources and skills and location.)

Stuff I do that helps:
1) Be thoughtful about what things I choose to do.
I've chosen to go into a profession I love (being a librarian) which doesn't have great financial rewards and has a number of its own stresses, but means I go home from work pretty much every day knowing I've been a real meaningful help to at least one person.

(And in my current job, that's sometimes really major life-changing help for people.)

On a daily level, this comes out as a commitment to a to do list, reviewing longer-term goals regularly so I keep making progress on them (or deliberately decide to focus on something else) and tracking things on a daily basis so I can catch downward health slides early. And I've set up my life so a lot of the daily maintenance stuff doesn't take a lot of effort.

2) Do the things to take care of my self that I can
I have an amazing doctor, and she's been helping me find solutions to some things in ways that work for me. I see her four times a year for monitoring, and we regularly discuss whether adding or changing meds will help with specific things. 

I swim regularly, I get flu shots and other similar things that help me avoid getting sick or avoid the worse complications of getting sick. I regretfully cancel seeing my friends with small kids when there is plague in their house.

This is balanced by a reasonable amount of 'enjoy things while I can' - food, perfume, other physical experiences because I don't know when I'll stop being able to enjoy them.

3) Say no to things. Sometimes a lot
Several of my health issues severely limit my stamina - I'm usually okay to get myself to work and home, grocery shop, and make simple meals, but anything much more than that can be too much a lot of the time. So I don't schedule other things more than about once a week, and keep entire weekends clear on a regular basis, and go on more involved outings maybe every couple of months.

I don't see any of my friends nearly as often as any of us would like, but I talk to many of them online regularly, and balance out the in-person stuff. It's not ideal, but it's sustainable, and it lets me do other things I care about.

I'm never going to be the friend who helps them move or clear out the back yard, or other physical tasks - but I can (and have) helped them organise projects that require lists or executive function, helped with research for problems, or just been there when they need an ear.

4) Apply money to solving some problems
Which gets tricky, because librarian, not a lot of spare in my budget. Right now, more than 10% of my take home budget goes to health related expenses, whether that's meds or costs insurance doesn't cover, or things I pay for because it saves me energy for other things.

F'ex, I get a cleaning service once a month because that turns out to save me about hours a month of working up the energy to do deeper cleaning. That's worth it to me - I'm getting a lot more writing done since I started, much of which ends up on my Seeking site or here, or other places in communities I care about.

I'm currently working on some side business things that I hope will give me a little more money to play with. I've also made choices about things like short-term disability and some related options through work that will help carry me if something does go wrong and I need to recover from it.

(I'm really lucky to be in a position to do both these things: many people aren't. But it's also required extensive commitment to education on my part, student loans, moving three times significant distances for jobs or school, and a lot of other complications.)

5) Think about long-term things
I do regular things that I hope are helpful to people (and sometimes they tell me that in the moment!) but I also think a lot about things that can outlive my ability to create new things. My Seeking site and other writing. Resources or communities I help create.

Over the past few years, I've been tending to give priority to the writing, both because it's easier for me to manage physically, and because of that sense of legacy. (I may well be influenced by the fact my father wrote more than 30 books, and even now, 20+ years later, some of them are still in use.)

If I got told I had a terminal condition tomorrow, what would I do?
(There are lots of conditions that are 'may kill you eventually, but it might be years' or 'this is cancer, but chances are pretty good we can treat it'. In the following, I'm talking about the 'going to die in the near future, within a year or so')

I love my job, but I'd be thinking about easing out of it. I'd want to do a bit more travelling while I still could. I'd go see my friends who live far away or figure out how to have them come visit me. I'd go enjoy London and Tuscany and Rome, and maybe other places. I'd eat great food as long as I could and wanted to. I'd listen to a lot of music and read a lot of books.

I'd try and finish up my writing projects, and work through with friends what to do about them. I suspect I'd end up doing a fair amount of educating medical and care personnel about Paganism, because religion comes up in end-of-life care. (That'd let them help people better down the road, so that's good.)

And I made the decision long ago, that I'd pick palliative care over prolonging life at the cost of lots of medical treatment that wouldn't lead to a possible long-term remission. I am deeply deeply grateful my father made a different choice, but I don't have kids, and there are both financial and emotional costs for long-term care of that kind, and once I had a chance to put things in order, I'd let death come in its own time. My religion believes in cycles and seasons, and I've learned that fighting that ends up badly.

There are lots of ways to contribute, and lots of ways to spend time that's meaningful. But that doesn't mean it has to be like that all the time, or forever. And if I've been having a life which helps others up to the point when I can't do much help before, well, that's not going to erase all the help I've already given, or the things I've contributed, is it?
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rous54

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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2018, 03:51:05 pm »
Hi there. Yes, you would. If you chose.

Let me lay out some different things for you, so this is a bit long, but I want to explain my experiences in case they're helpful to you. I live a life that is restricted by health things already, around the level of many kinds of early stage cancer treatment (though with fewer actual medical appointments.)

I have more than half a dozen chronic illnesses, none of which are likely to kill me any time soon, but two of which have the potential to kill me suddenly if a cascade of things goes wrong. Two of my other conditions put me at a higher risk of stroke. (I live alone, so one of the things I think about is what if something happens when no one's expecting to hear from me, since there's a narrow window for the best stroke recovery treatments.)

I've had some of these conditions since I was a teenager, but about half of them were diagnosed when I was in my mid-thirties or later (I'm now 42.)

I've had two periods of time where one or more things that go wrong with my body have seriously impacted my ability to function (one bad enough that reading for 5 minutes at a time was beyond me, and then six+ months of migraines that seriously impacted my ability to cook, do household stuff, or drive, never mind work.)

I have lots of friends who have chronic stuff going on, and most of us have periods of being more functional, and then periods of being a lot less functional (because something's flaring, because a med isn't working for us anymore, because we get a cold and lose the next month+ to recovering, because something changes in our lives and suddenly doing everything else is a lot harder.)

When I was 14, my father was diagnosed with cancer, and he died when I was 15 (and a month and 10 days). He was a professor, and he was teaching up until the day before he died. Some of his best lectures were given in his last six months. He checked my homework for me the night before he went to the hospital for the last time. He sorted out ongoing planning for his grad students, so they could finish their degrees. All sorts of things.

And this forum has had several long-term members with serious ongoing health issues, three of whom are remembered in the sidebar, Chavi, Elspeth, and Marilyn. They were all continuing to share and contribute to this community and others up until they died.

All of which is to say, I think about 'how do I do things I care about, even if my body is not able or up to helping with that?' an awful lot.

My answer is fundamentally the same as Darkhawk's. I don't know when my last day is going to be - none of us do - but there's going to be one. I live my life being aware of that - and also being aware I won't get to do all the things I like. (Sometimes for health reasons, but often just because no human can do all the things they want ever in the world: we have limits of time and resources and skills and location.)

Stuff I do that helps:
1) Be thoughtful about what things I choose to do.
I've chosen to go into a profession I love (being a librarian) which doesn't have great financial rewards and has a number of its own stresses, but means I go home from work pretty much every day knowing I've been a real meaningful help to at least one person.

(And in my current job, that's sometimes really major life-changing help for people.)

On a daily level, this comes out as a commitment to a to do list, reviewing longer-term goals regularly so I keep making progress on them (or deliberately decide to focus on something else) and tracking things on a daily basis so I can catch downward health slides early. And I've set up my life so a lot of the daily maintenance stuff doesn't take a lot of effort.

2) Do the things to take care of my self that I can
I have an amazing doctor, and she's been helping me find solutions to some things in ways that work for me. I see her four times a year for monitoring, and we regularly discuss whether adding or changing meds will help with specific things. 

I swim regularly, I get flu shots and other similar things that help me avoid getting sick or avoid the worse complications of getting sick. I regretfully cancel seeing my friends with small kids when there is plague in their house.

This is balanced by a reasonable amount of 'enjoy things while I can' - food, perfume, other physical experiences because I don't know when I'll stop being able to enjoy them.

3) Say no to things. Sometimes a lot
Several of my health issues severely limit my stamina - I'm usually okay to get myself to work and home, grocery shop, and make simple meals, but anything much more than that can be too much a lot of the time. So I don't schedule other things more than about once a week, and keep entire weekends clear on a regular basis, and go on more involved outings maybe every couple of months.

I don't see any of my friends nearly as often as any of us would like, but I talk to many of them online regularly, and balance out the in-person stuff. It's not ideal, but it's sustainable, and it lets me do other things I care about.

I'm never going to be the friend who helps them move or clear out the back yard, or other physical tasks - but I can (and have) helped them organise projects that require lists or executive function, helped with research for problems, or just been there when they need an ear.

4) Apply money to solving some problems
Which gets tricky, because librarian, not a lot of spare in my budget. Right now, more than 10% of my take home budget goes to health related expenses, whether that's meds or costs insurance doesn't cover, or things I pay for because it saves me energy for other things.

F'ex, I get a cleaning service once a month because that turns out to save me about hours a month of working up the energy to do deeper cleaning. That's worth it to me - I'm getting a lot more writing done since I started, much of which ends up on my Seeking site or here, or other places in communities I care about.

I'm currently working on some side business things that I hope will give me a little more money to play with. I've also made choices about things like short-term disability and some related options through work that will help carry me if something does go wrong and I need to recover from it.

(I'm really lucky to be in a position to do both these things: many people aren't. But it's also required extensive commitment to education on my part, student loans, moving three times significant distances for jobs or school, and a lot of other complications.)

5) Think about long-term things
I do regular things that I hope are helpful to people (and sometimes they tell me that in the moment!) but I also think a lot about things that can outlive my ability to create new things. My Seeking site and other writing. Resources or communities I help create.

Over the past few years, I've been tending to give priority to the writing, both because it's easier for me to manage physically, and because of that sense of legacy. (I may well be influenced by the fact my father wrote more than 30 books, and even now, 20+ years later, some of them are still in use.)

If I got told I had a terminal condition tomorrow, what would I do?
(There are lots of conditions that are 'may kill you eventually, but it might be years' or 'this is cancer, but chances are pretty good we can treat it'. In the following, I'm talking about the 'going to die in the near future, within a year or so')

I love my job, but I'd be thinking about easing out of it. I'd want to do a bit more travelling while I still could. I'd go see my friends who live far away or figure out how to have them come visit me. I'd go enjoy London and Tuscany and Rome, and maybe other places. I'd eat great food as long as I could and wanted to. I'd listen to a lot of music and read a lot of books.

I'd try and finish up my writing projects, and work through with friends what to do about them. I suspect I'd end up doing a fair amount of educating medical and care personnel about Paganism, because religion comes up in end-of-life care. (That'd let them help people better down the road, so that's good.)

And I made the decision long ago, that I'd pick palliative care over prolonging life at the cost of lots of medical treatment that wouldn't lead to a possible long-term remission. I am deeply deeply grateful my father made a different choice, but I don't have kids, and there are both financial and emotional costs for long-term care of that kind, and once I had a chance to put things in order, I'd let death come in its own time. My religion believes in cycles and seasons, and I've learned that fighting that ends up badly.

There are lots of ways to contribute, and lots of ways to spend time that's meaningful. But that doesn't mean it has to be like that all the time, or forever. And if I've been having a life which helps others up to the point when I can't do much help before, well, that's not going to erase all the help I've already given, or the things I've contributed, is it?
Of course it won't as you will have contributed just as much.

Thanks for taking the time to lay out these options one would take.

I felt like celebrating when I was feeling better and I was hoping that it would be a new revelation for me to start helping people more and finding a source of motivation for doing more work in the future since I am having difficulty now with my work situation. Money is not motivating me at all, actually it is a turn off. So when I felt this motivation to thank the Goddess by getting out and finding ways to help others, I felt a motivation inside of me that I  was hoping to build on in the future.

But then I was thinking if I am going to be helping people and there will be something as crushing as someone dying from cancer, where is the value in my contribution? I lost the focus and somehow the call for action.

I am trying to understand it and not take it personally.

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TransporterMalfunction

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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2018, 05:55:06 pm »
What if it is me who has the cancer? Would I be able to serve others?

I like to look at it this way: serve others while you can. Some day, you will be the one who needs help, and you will enrich the life of someone who wants to give it to you.
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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2018, 07:11:06 pm »
First, one forum note - when you quote a long post like my last one, please take a minute to cut down the text. Otherwise it gets hard for people to read!

We do require that people quote posts so others can follow the conversation, but you don't need to leave all the text in there, just the part that makes the link back to the post you're quoting. Normally it helps if you just quote a sentence or two, or only the parts where you're responding directly to specific parts of what someone said. If you've got more questions, it's fine to start a thread in the test forum and play with it, or ask questions in the board question forum.

I felt like celebrating when I was feeling better and I was hoping that it would be a new revelation for me to start helping people more and finding a source of motivation for doing more work in the future since I am having difficulty now with my work situation.

That makes a lot of sense. (And if it's helpful for you to know, this kind of reassessment is a reasonably common thing for people who've been dealing with health challenges.

Quote
But then I was thinking if I am going to be helping people and there will be something as crushing as someone dying from cancer, where is the value in my contribution? I lost the focus and somehow the call for action.

This is where I get confused.

Do you mean that you would feel crushed if you helped someone, and then they died?

Or do you mean that you want to help people, and would feel crushed if you no longer could because you got cancer? (Or some other terminal illness.)

Or do you mean that thinking about this got you stuck on a 'what's the point of doing anything' anti-motivation spiral?

I think if you can clarify what you mean, people might be able to make more suggestions.
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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2018, 07:59:09 pm »
What if it is me who has the cancer? Would I be able to serve others?

Yes, if you make the choice to do so, you can find a way to serve others.

Every one of us has limitations of some form or another - time, money, health issues, etc - but those limitations do not diminish the value of our contributions.  For many of us who live the situation that you're talking about (hi, two time cancer survivor here), there is a mindset reflective of Theodore Roosevelt's statement "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Circumstances may change tomorrow and our ability to give may be increased or diminished in ways we cannot imagine in this moment.  Life, after all, is a terminal condition for all of us. So we give of ourselves when we are able.
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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2018, 09:01:23 pm »
But then I was thinking if I am going to be helping people and there will be something as crushing as someone dying from cancer, where is the value in my contribution? I lost the focus and somehow the call for action.

I am trying to understand it and not take it personally.


I'd like to share with you a story. Last semester my nursing school practicums had me rotating through several different wards of the hospital. One of those wards was Oncology (Cancer patients). My first day in Oncology I was assigned to a patient who was in her 90's and clearly dying from the cancer that she had fought off 10 years ago but had come back with a vengeance. Being a student, and since this patient didn't have a whole lot going on (she was slated to be discharged the next day, as they had drawn off all the fluid in her lungs that was suffocating her already) I had the opportunity to just sit and chat with her. We ended up talking for over an hour, mostly her talking and me asking questions. You see, she had been a nurse herself, first starting as a candy striper in WW2. She was by far my favorite patient of the semester, because although she didn't have a lot to teach me about current practice it was fascinating to pick her brain about what nursing used to be.

In talking to her I was also healing her. You see, we're trained that healing is not simply the process of curing disease. Healing, we are taught, is a lifelong journey into wholeness, harmony, and balance. Healing encompasses all aspects of the self- body, mind, spirit (or as we call them physical, psychosocial, and transpersonal). Even on the brink of death there can be healing, in that we are finding ego integrity and the knowledge that we lived a good life. Healing is always possible.

I know better than most about the bad, inexplicable, unpredictable things that happen. I'm right in the midst of it on a daily basis. Despite all the pain I see on a daily basis, I know that I'm there to help make healing possible. Even when I can't give medicines that cure, I can have a listening ear, a soothing voice, a gentle touch. Pain and suffering in the world only makes me want to work harder to turn the tide, to be the lamp in the darkness.

rous54

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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2018, 04:55:47 am »
I like to look at it this way: serve others while you can. Some day, you will be the one who needs help, and you will enrich the life of someone who wants to give it to you.

Thank you.  You are right.  I hope to find the motivation and energy always to be serving others.  I might have gotten discouraged, for lack of a better word, but it is good to be able to find this call again for action.

rous54

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Re: Service to others and discouragement
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2018, 05:10:19 am »
Firstly, I want to thank everyone for your passionate responses which are very insightful.  I am new to this community and I really like it.

Do you mean that you would feel crushed if you helped someone, and then they died?

Or do you mean that you want to help people, and would feel crushed if you no longer could because you got cancer? (Or some other terminal illness.)

Or do you mean that thinking about this got you stuck on a 'what's the point of doing anything' anti-motivation spiral?

I think it is all of the above. I ended up being caught up in the anti-motivation spiral.  The thing is that my dad always used to tell me that I am lazy, and with my current situation of not being productive this is kind of getting to me.

Pain and suffering in the world only makes me want to work harder to turn the tide, to be the lamp in the darkness.

That is great.  I don't think that I am there with my spirituality yet.  I am trying to understand things but it is quite difficult for me.  For instance I was at the hospital the other day and I was wondering how can the workers there deal with seeing the sicknesses all the time.  Maybe it will come with time.

Yes, if you make the choice to do so, you can find a way to serve others.

Every one of us has limitations of some form or another - time, money, health issues, etc - but those limitations do not diminish the value of our contributions.

I know but I don't feel that my contributions have started yet, yet I am feeling a little discouraged.

For many of us who live the situation that you're talking about (hi, two time cancer survivor here),

Yayyy that is awesome.  I am very happy for your :D


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