You know, I hate swimming in the same direction as everyone else. I've spent most of my life swimming up stream, either because it is my nature or it is by choice, and I'm just determined not to be the same breed of fish as everyone else. (Interesting topic for another time!)
Either way, it kind of bugs me when I fall into thinking about "what I'm thankful for" on Thanksgiving. Ideally, I would do that every day of my life. But for many varied reasons, it is impossible not to fall into step with the rest of the world on this particular weekend.
During the past 13 years I have experienced euphoric highs and devastating lows. Being diagnosed with Lupus in 1997 was a defining time in my life, even though I was determined that the diagnosis would not define ME. But in some ways most surprising, it did.
As a result of this diagnosis I have made some fabulous choices and I have made many that were on the verge of cataclysmic. Being faced with one's own mortality has a funny way of bringing about profound change: Challenging everything that was once the norm; examining my interaction with the world around me; being forced to look deep into the core of my very being and coming to the devastating realization that mine has not been a life of purpose, but rather of reaction fuelled by anger, hate and hurt.
Living with a life altering health challenge that's here to stay has forced me to face issues head on which have deep roots in my childhood and have profoundly affected my past, to a lesser extent my present - but I have determined, not my future.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse at the hand of an extended family member. It is not something that I ever planned to parade for the world, but my need to close a dark chapter in my life once and for all precludes my silence on the subject any longer. And the fact that I was, at last, recently able to share this with my parents 30 years or so later allows me to finally turn a corner and be free.
Over the past year and a half or so, I've done some very difficult, painful, intensely private, introspective work in order to be well again. Where my personal demons consumed me and caused me to behave self destructively at times, I'm finally learning to live with purpose; I'm learning the meaning of forgiveness, and I am realizing that the journey we know as life is much easier when one doesn't have to carry such heavy suitcases filled with remorse, regret, anger, hate, and self loathing.
So back to the light bulb. Sometimes over the past while, I've struggled to get my head around certain concepts as I focus on building a future of fulfillment, joy and peace. And I want the answer for something in particular to come so badly that my brain hurts. Sometimes I wait for what seems like an eternity. And then, it happens - a light bulb moment, and its brightness fills even the darkest reaches of my being with a sense of calm understanding and and the light of knowledge. And the joy and delight in these revelations is that they just happen, sometimes at the least likely of times and in a manner that seems completely random, even though I know it can't be.
I wonder if Thomas Edison understood that his invention, while important to modernization of the world, would also provide strong symbolism to our quest for deeper knowledge and understanding of the universe and the supreme being that created it.
I have so much more work yet to do. But I continue to be thankful for Thomas Edison, whose invention shines light on the fledgling seeds of all the good things I hope will grow and help me become the best person I can be.
"Many of life's failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." - Thomas Edison
May I never give up.