In Healing, We Must Be “Actively Passive”
February 7, 2019
I created this blog 6 months ago with a very distinct purpose: to invite the reader to journey with me on my newfound walk with Joy. Music, poetry, travel, health – all of these are personal vehicles for what I believe is the true well-spring of universal Joy… connection. Ultimately, I am writing these words hoping that through them, I might connect, with you. And through the exchange, we might both grow and become better people.
On September 2nd, 2018 – the day this blog was published, I was at a high point in my life. After living for a very long time fat, sick and nearly dead – my health was at last, exuberant. Physically I had lost 75 lbs, was running 16 miles per week, had cured a list of physical illnesses a mile long, and had boundless energy. Spiritually I was at an apex; my heart freed from its shackles, my talents in flow, my mind hungry to explore, and my trust in the Creator, abundant. Emotionally, I felt balanced for the first time ever – my Empath nature finally practicing boundaries, while still exercising its gifts of compassion, tenderness, understanding and connection. My career goals were clear and on track to be accomplished. I was healing from a seemingly never-ending cycle of co-dependency and abuse, all of which had culminated in a near nervous break-down, but had then miraculously led me to finally getting serious about getting (in every meaning of the word), well.
To put it simply: my Joy was bountiful. But frankly, it was easy to be Joyful (non-circumstantial), when that Joy was buoyantly floating on a sea of happiness (circumstantial). It was the perfect time to begin this blog. But… I never did begin.
Instead the blog went dark, for five months, that is until today when I’ve decided to light a spark under it once and for all.
I’ve come to believe that perhaps luminosity is not the best place to begin a blog about Joy. Perhaps the best time to begin, is just the opposite. Perhaps despairing, suffering and discouragement, is the best place to begin a blog about Joy. Because it is during these times that we cling to Joy like a warm lover in a cold bed. It is in these times that our understanding of Joy truly deepens.
And so.. I begin.
Two days after I launched this blog, I was at the gym working out, when I suddenly was hit with a tsunami of exhaustion unlike anything I had ever experienced. I came home at 3 p.m to lay down, and woke up the following day at 3 p.m. I slept 24 hours. I had all the symptoms of Strep Throat, but as I would soon come to find, it was not Strep Throat that I had contracted, but rather Epstein Barr Virus- otherwise known as “Mono.”
I knew very little of Mononucleosis. I didn’t know how vicious, debilitating or life-altering the virus could really be, until it struck me down HARD, as “adult-onset mono” at the age of 36, and as a self-employed musician, living alone.
Those first few weeks were hell on earth. I had never been so ill in my life. People will joke and tell you “I thought I was dying when I had Mono” but I called 911… two different times in the four weeks that I was bedridden, because I thought I wasn’t going to make it through the night. Throughout the disease’s acute phase, I took solace in the idea that it would indeed pass, and had faith that my foundation of supreme health would see me through it. And it did. I felt almost like my old self just four weeks later. Almost, being the operative word.. that I did not heed.
I resumed my usual insane pace of go-go-go; working on my 1975 Argosy Joybug all day, playing gigs all night, and hitting the gym in between. This went on for two weeks, until one day in early October, while working on JoyBug, I laid down in the grass, certain I was going to pass out. My body felt crushed with exhaustion and a sudden, all-too-familiar, overwhelming weakness.
This would be the first of several relapses I would suffer over the next several months. It was no doubt that initial pushing that has made a full recovery so difficult for me. I lost another few weeks being totally bed-ridden, no work, no income, no disability or “sick days”, and as Summer faded into fall, I found myself powerless to change my circumstances. My Joybug project went as dark as did this blog.
Today marks 5 months since I was struck down with Mono. Unlike a teenager who contracts the virus, and can sit in bed for 6 months while his/her parents take care of them, I have had to continue working and adulting, as it were, throughout the virus’s hold on my body. The brain fog, chest heaviness, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, chills and flu-like feeling, anxiety and depression – all of it has been scratching and clawing at me without relief. I’ve tried hard to hold onto my Joy, even in the suffering and loss of the exuberance of health. But as the weeks have turned into nearly a half of a year, it has become increasingly difficult to do so.
Until recently, I have been in denial that this virus could, if forever persistent, truly impact the life I have worked so hard to carve out for myself; the life of nomadic adventuring that I am about to embark upon. Just two weeks ago, I went on a solo road trip to Key West, which was a very simple trip compared to others that I have taken in the past. I did this knowingly that I was not in full health, but thinking the trip would be good for me. But after just four days of adventuring, I crashed with another relapse, and despite my happy-go-lucky pictures on social media, the trip was mostly ruined. I had to stay with my parents for two days, untill I had the energy to go off on my own again.
I have been planning a much more epic trip abroad in April that involves 7 countries in 8 weeks. Over the last few days however, I’ve realized that I have not had one symptom-free day in 5 months. I kept feeling certain that SURELY by seven months I would be well again, but as the relapse from Key West would not let go, I began to question if I could really handle the trip I’d been planning. The resounding doubt in my heart was a crushing blow. Looking forward to a future where I give up my belongings, and move into a completely refurbished “JoyBug” and travel full-time, I reflected on what that life might be like if Mono never loosens its grip, and instead morphs into an auto-immune illness that I have to deal with the rest of my life. The thought of it, after all I have endured the last 5 years and survived and overcome, was terrifying.
Faced with this reality – I made a decision: not to give up on my dreams, or even my plans necessarily, but rather to take all my passion, my determination, ambition, and my fire for life and pour it 1000% into my own healing. Two years ago, when I was 236 lbs, I recovered my health by becoming a Nutritarian; a diet which focuses on eating all of your calories from the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. For the purpose of auto-immune healing, I am adopting an even more extreme version of it for the next 8 weeks, under my doctors care – and will be taking my readers along with me on the road back to health.
This protocol focuses on intermittent fasting, green juicing, 1-2 meals consisting of high quantities of leafy greens and cruciferous veggies, blended salads, and other nutritious foods like beans, fruits, nuts and seeds. It is devoid of animal products, oil, salt, and gluten, and very sparingly includes an optional 1/4 cup of grains a day.
I do not believe that when sickness comes into our life, it comes for no reason. Sickness is a teacher, who comes to us because there is a lesson we need to learn that we would not learn otherwise.
I think the difficulty in healing for me, lies most in the resting. In the absence of doing.. or what I have perceived all of my life to be “doing.” I often misunderstand the wisdom of passivity. This comes from a lifetime of being vocally passive, not assertive, and of letting others take advantage of me. It has colored my understanding of the word passive to be something negative. Once I found my voice, my assertiveness, my ability to take control over my life, I began to value action over re-action, and certainly over passivity. But I am beginning to understand that there is such a thing as ‘active passivity.’ This is when we choose to be passive – when we take the ACTION of passivity – to heal, to rest, to grow, to restore ourselves. And this is what I am going to challenge myself to do. To be actively passive.
There is so much I want to share with you all in the coming days. I know there are people coming to this blog, who have followed my journey with Traumatic Brain Injury for many years. Then there are some who have followed my music career for decades. Or my poetry. There are those who have found me through my journey to health with Nutritarianism. There are some who found me through my Argosy “JoyBug”, and the story behind her rebirth. But wherever you are hailing from, I want to thank you for coming along with me. This site has many “rooms” where I will share different aspects of my life. But my hope is that my journey – if shared with a naked, raw, vulnerable truth – will ultimately be a universal one.
For in truth: love, suffering, hope, and fear- these are universal to us all. And when we are open and honest about our experiences, we only serve to connect us, and to bring about the inter-dependency and unity that we all crave deep down – the thread that is woven into our one human life.