At some point I made a deal with the faeries. I must have. I met my beautiful, angelic wife after many years of looking for her; a while later our amazing, perfect daughter arrived; then right after that I was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
The faeries are a tricky and duplicitous folk. They granted my desires, and they are now having a great time collecting on their part of the bargain, inflicting me with disease and its many daily frustrations and torment. The timing of it couldn’t possibly be happenstance. It has to be faeries. How else could I explain it?
My inner Christian needles me, Faeries don’t exist, silly. It is the will of God.
My upbringing as a rational person reassures me, That is nonsense. Neither faeries nor God exist. Shit just happens. (Maybe it’s tetraclods?)
My Buddhist practice chides me, You are asking the wrong question.
I dismiss the first one easily. Perhaps God is a loving God and this is His way of showing me the way to Him. But that can’t be right because it obviously is not working. And anyway, as a father I do not show my love for my daughter by striking her, so why would God do that?
On the other hand, maybe God is a punitive God. I am being punished for my sins. Or maybe God is using me like He did Job, to prove something to Satan. If so this is despicable behavior on God’s part. No one should have anything to do with a God like this.
Rationality wins easily, but still the questions persist. How did this happen? What is the meaning of the timing of it?
But these are indeed the wrong questions. The underlying assumption to these questions is, “This shouldn’t be happening”. This can’t be happening to me. I don’t deserve this. And yet it is happening, right now, in the present. I’m wasting my energy and my time on why and how.
What if I found out for sure it was faeries, or God’s punishment, or tetraclods? It might satisfy my curiosity, give me the illusion that I have a little bit of control. But even if I were to find out, it would do nothing to cure my illness, help me avoid death, or even ease the struggle of dealing with it day to day.
It’s better to ask, “What do I do with this?” What’s an appropriate way to act right now?
So, that’s how I’m dealing with having ALS, and it’s the reason I’m in a pretty good mood (most of the time).
What about you? What are you sad or mad or anxious about? What long-term problem or character flaw are you trying to get to the bottom of? What action are you taking to deal with it today?