The rain pelts against the window and the painted leaves dance with wild abandon in the autumn winds. The summer has long left us, that scorching dry heat forgotten in the dark misty mornings that greet us when we wake, and the early arrival of twilight. It is the time where the animals take shelter for their annual winter nap, and I tuck into the quiet comfort of my life as it stands today.
October is the harvest season, a time to sow the seeds of gratitude and resilience, to acknowledge our challenges and then move them into the darkness. It’s a month of reflection as the wheel of the year turns bringing us misty mornings and sooty dusks with blushing sunsets. The earth is abundant with life and it’s the time to pluck from our spiritual harvest the assets that allow us to flourish in a life with chronic illness.
The fall is a busy time for me, and the arrival of wet and stormy weather provokes the rise of RA symptoms, alongside flu, colds and the persistence of a pandemic that will not release its grip. The same uncertainty exists as it did one year ago, as we teeter on the edge of a life that is always shifting – but it’s this constant shift that drives me to focus on living my life and not on the disease that has stamped itself into my body.
There has always been this narrative of grieving your old life before disease, but I have never subscribed to it. I choose to honour it, to be grateful for the time and experiences I had before shifting into this phase of life with chronic illness. I look back at that time and am proud of my accomplishments and know that while I may not achieve the exact same thing, I still have an opportunity to achieve something new. It’s not easy to alter the life you’ve always known, but there is no going back – there is only going on. Lamenting on what has already transpired will only stop you from discovering the potential you have for a new conquest. Acknowledge it, mark it for the remarkable experience it was, but don’t let it bring your journey to an end.
RA will always be with me – there will be flares, setbacks, frustrations, pain, and fatigue – but it’s not the center of my life. I’m learning to push it to the peripheral edges and use it to fuel new ambitions and live as boldly as I can. There’s still a long way to go and many things to discover, and there’s no haste to get there. Pluck the seeds from your own spiritual harvest. Honour your life, relish the journey – it is an incredible achievement.
A dusky sunset
Photo by J.G. Chayko
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.