A fundamental precept of ontological work is that there is potential learning in every life experience and perhaps that is even the reason we experience. But when events occur in life that are uncomfortable and potential learning is not immediately recognizable I tend to miss the possibility and remain in the discomfort or spend my energy trying to eliminate the discomfort.
That challenge has been with me the past 3 weeks experiencing an illness the discomfort of which ranged from mildly annoying to leaving me prostrate in bed. When not experiencing vivid fever-induced encounters with people I had only ever seen in the media or read about I wondered what learning was available to me through this experience. One clear direct learning was the degree to which I experienced the sensations in my body more widely, deeply and directly and how my body was continually practicing to rebalance itself literally and in temperature and energy.
Two less obvious ideas emerged as well. One was that the most profound loss I experience when ill is of energy. This, for me, connected with the role energy plays in shaping our lives and movements, our work, our relationships, growing our food.... it may sound obvious but I had a new realization that without energy there is nothing. So maybe what is so distasteful or fearful about illness is that we can sense the loss of energy and realize at some level that without it life, at least as we know it, will end.
The second idea has to do with the expansion of awareness or consciousness. For reasons I can't explain this has always seemed desirable to me and most coaches and leaders I know endorse the idea even if they aren't sure why. I've always been a little uncomfortable promoting it as a beneficial because I couldn't see clearly why it necessarily would be. It occurred to me that it isn't the growth in awareness itself that is of value. But when I considered that the value of increased awareness might be that I have a more profound connection with and ability to see energy I realized a concrete purpose.
What if expanding my ability to observe, increasing my ability to experience deeply and practicing mindfulness are simply tools that allow me to see the presence of energy in people, cultures, work, money, art, systems, health, nature....in short to be closely connected to life itself.
Today is the holiday of Thanksgiving in the U.S. As a native growing up in the tradition it has always been my favorite. Over the years what I've given thanks for has varied widely. Today my thankfulness is for having the energy to write and begin to create a celebration with friends here who find the traditions and foods an exotic mystery, I'm thankful to be aware and to be alive to continue learning.