In a strong community, everybody's voice is important and necessary. Each story told carries a key for understanding our own illness a little better, for finding hope, for not just surviving, but thriving. When I woke up this morning, I thought about how all of us, no matter what "type" of diabetes we have, are still connected by our pancreas. And I thought about where in our body the pancreas is, about how our experiences literally stem from our center. So, just for a second place your hands over your belly button(yes you might feel a little silly)! First think about your own experience of diabetes. Think about your family, your support, your doctors, your choices, your way of coping. Then, think about someone else in this community. Their story will hold different details. They may go for a walk in the woods when the day is rough. They may write a poem, paint a picture, play basketball with their children. They may kneel and pray or stand and sing. They may choose a doctor who would drive you batty or an alternative therapy that you find just plain weird. They may keep their diabetic child on a strict regimen or they may let them more or less fend for themselves. They may cry or laugh or both. What is important, as your hands rest at the center of your body, is that the pancreas is a conduit for the diversity of our human experience.
Sometimes it is easier to stop reading the post by someone with a different approach to life with diabetes. Easier to turn away and find one that is similar to our own. It is more comfortable. It takes alot of effort to step out of our comfort zones with our eyes and hearts open to another side of the story.
If you have ever taken a yoga class, you have probably heard the word Namaste. In India, it is not unique to yoga practice, but rather, it is used when greeting someone and usually accompanied by a slight bow with hands held in a prayer position in front of the heart. It translates as "the spirit within me respects and honors the spirit in you." Several years ago, I met an older man who said Namaste to everyone. I worked in a health food store at the time, and I could hear him saying it to each person he had a conversation with. It seemed like a practice that made sense in a yoga class, but out in public, was maybe a little bit much. Finally, I asked him why he did this. When he was younger, he had served in the UK equivalent of the Navy Seals. He knew about violence and force, about suffering. He said he lived his life with a certain hardness of character, unable to deal with people who saw the world differently than himself. After suffering several heart attacks, he decided to change his life. Part of that shift was to acknowledge that every single person he met had a unique story, often filled with pain. Even if he did not understand their perspective, he could still consciously choose to respect their humanity by incorporating this simple practice.
And, so, ALL of you out there in the diabetes world, I would like to move my hands from my pancreas up to my heart, bow my head, and say to you, Namaste.
[This post is part of the 2nd annual D-Blog Week, coordinated by Karen at www.bittersweetdiabetes.com. Over 150 people in the diabetes online community have signed up to blog about their life with diabetes each day this week. Be sure to check out their stories on this topic here!]