Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Secret. And Yarn.

Today I was feeling really wiped out and dragging, so I decided to sit my butt on the couch and knit. I watched "The Secret" on Movies on Demand. One of my many former bosses at this job swore I had to see it, so I decided I'd give it a go. Hmmm...

I am familiar with the Law of Attraction, and do believe it is true, though I violate it regularly. But the movie took a concept that could be explained in 15 minutes and stretched it past the breaking point. I found one part really uncomfortable/offensive, and that was the cheery lady who swears she was cured of breast cancer in 3 months because she willed herself to be well.

I totally believe in the mind-body connection, and that we can have an enormous impact on our own well being by our attitude and how we behave, and that a lot of medical woes need to be fought via a mental game. But this took it too far for me - so this lady was "cured"(we get no particulars) because she watched funny movies and kept a good attitude? There is no doubt that doing this is good for anyone going through an illness, it helps the body heal, for sure, and gives you the best chance to win. But "cure?" What does this say to all of the cancer patients who are doing all the right things and have incredibly brave and cheerful attitudes, who don't win? It's uncomfortably close to the Fundagelical Christian attitude of "God will heal you if you just have enough faith." It can be cruel and ugly in the wrong hands.

While I do believe that the mental game matters, I don't think it's entirely in our control. When my brain hemorrhaged and the blinding pain (literally blinding, my vision went dark like the lights went out) hit me and my knees buckled and my body folded up like a cheap lawn chair, I can honestly say that I was not afraid. Fear never occurred to me. I lost several days after that time, but that moment was very clear, and while my knees were folding on me and I was sliding to the floor, I remember thinking, "Something really bad just happened in my brain. Must tell them to get Dr. SL to fix it." And while everybody was freaking out around me, yelling "Call 911!" I was calm. I just waited. I joked with the helicopter flight crew. I have no idea where this calm and poise came from, I was making a conscious (okay, semi-conscious) effort, but I still don't know where it came from. I was on my mental game, certainly, but I can't take credit for it, because I don't know where it came from. I felt detached from the events, I felt no fear, I felt like it would be alright.

The entire experience was like that - I was concerned that I would die in surgery, because Shit Happens, but not scared of dying. I was just concerned for my kids, that they would be left with a pain in the ass to deal with because I didn't have a will. I wasn't terribly worried about dying, but still, I felt guilty for not leaving my affairs in order. My daughter says I was obsessed with trying to make lists of things for them to deal with, but I couldn't see and couldn't control the pen. I do have a vague memory of that, though in my messed-up timeline, I thought that was post surgery. I do remember telling Girl to cancel the dog's haircut appointment.

Afterward, though I was blind in one eye at first, I just knew to be patient and the vision would come back. When a nurse said I'd be going to a rehab facility, I thought, "No, I won't need that." I do not know why it all happened that way, and I do not take credit for it. It wasn't me doing this, I was just a receptor for whatever it was that was making it all happen. So for someone to say that if you just have the right positive attitude you can heal yourself from cancer, that's incredibly offensive to me - what about the people like my husband, who had the most incredible attitude possible, who lived through hell for two years and was matter-of-fact and positive throughout, who lost the battle anyway?

The only conclusion I can make here is that if you are somehow a receptor of whatever it is that makes that sort of healing possible, it's not a question of having faith. I didn't "have faith," I didn't pray to Jesus or anybody else, I just felt it. It was just there for me. I don't know why. I don't feel like "God felt I deserved it," or any other cheap platitude answer. It can happen, but we still don't know how that happens, and positive thinking and watching funny movies isn't the magical answer. "The Secret" has identified the phenomenon, but doesn't give you a magic bullet (or a Secret) to make it happen, and in the case of medical challenges, it goes for a cheap easy explanation the equivalent of "Believe in JAY-sus hard enough and you'll be healed!" I call this the Clap for Tinkerbell school of metaphysics.

So I guess that's a long winded way of saying that while I don't dispute the reality of The Law of Attraction, I also don't think it's something that we can will ourselves to do in every situation. All we can do is try to make it work. Sometimes it just happens, and sometimes it doesn't. Yes, there was absolutely something outside of me keeping it all together while my body was self-destructing, but I didn't do anything to bring it to me and I don't take credit for it. Something clicked in at that moment and I just used it.

The Law of Yarn Attraction is a different thing entirely. Today I bought yarn. I really want to make the Diagonal Jacket in Debbie Bliss "Home." I didn't want to make it in cotton, though cotton would be very practical for right now, it is too hard on my hands for a project that size. And I am visualizing a new home where wool would be more useful. So I ordered Debbie Bliss Rialto, a DK merino wool, in a deep blue. Because I need to wear more blue.

It's funny how my yarn buying habits have been cured by a less than a year long fast. I had to think for weeks before deciding what to buy. I am cured of impulse buying. I chose to buy this yarn online instead of waiting for Asheville because it's a roomy jacket and it needs a lot of yarn, and it would be asking a lot for even a big yarn shop to have that much of one dye lot in stock in a color I want when I walk in the door. Online, they can scare it up if they have to and ship it when they get it.

And though I felt tired and draggin-ass today, I fought through it and I went to the gym and did a nice fast 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer before the weights. I've figured out that the only way to deal with the fatigue is to NOT give in to it, to keep going as much as I can, and sleep well at night. Aretha Franklin is my new workout partner - though I love all of her music, "Chain of Fools" and "Freeway of Love" are two of my all-time favorite energy songs, and both make for a nice fast pace on the elliptical machine.

And how can you not love that Aretha Franklin's official homepage is called So Damn Happy? Isn't that a great title for an album, and a website? Or a philosophy of life?


Bess said...

Yeah about that part of TheSecret. I too, have a hard time with the guilt trip such a message lays down on someone already suffering with the Cancer blow or a car wreck or whatever. I noticed that somewhere else in the movie another talker says "If you're in dire need, of course use conventional medicine" or something like that. Caveat, hmm?

And repitition seems to be the norm in all the spiritual books, be it conventional religion or any of the newer softer books. And of course - the hint that promisses imortality they all offer is always broken sooner or later. We all die. No matter how great a time you're having, it's going to end. Best not expect (or promise) everything this time around. I think Christ makes the best promise when he says "In my father's house...."

There are a lot of folk out there writing their own version of the Law of Attraction and at the library I've gathered several versions. One for the tomboy gal. One for the business man. One for the soft and fluffy. One for the visual learner. It's a great tool. It really has made things much more fun for me in a life that was already pretty fun. But no matter how hard I visualize or how clearly I ask the universe, I'm not going to sprout wings or turn into a dolphin. thicker hair, maybe, but wings? nope.

hugs to you gal

Catherine said...

I agree, it's a great tool, and positive focus does indeed attract the things you want to you, and being negative will bring you more of the same. If you think about it, we do bring a lot of day to day "misfortune" on ourselves by the choices we make, so anything that makes you consciously focus on goals and move in the right direction is a good thing. And it is fun to do, and gives you a positive way of dealing with life's challenges, as long as you don't take it to the point of blaming cancer victims for not healing themselves, or blame yourself for being there when somebody hits your car, etc. A certain amount of life events are random and inexplicable, and life isn't always fair. But we can control a lot more than most of us were trained to believe.

zippiknits said...

Guilt added to the pain is so thoughtless, and yes, a mother whom I helped through something really terrible for her child to go through used that word, Guilt, too.

It is cruelty to even start moving down that road much less drag someone down it with you. A life is as it is, a personal journey. It has a whole story to it and a pace; there are lessons surely in Loving, Helping, Truth seeking, and even Paradise.

Your words were passionate and beautiful. Thank you Catherine.