For the past 15 years I’ve been mostly housebound because of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). One of the best ways I’ve found to survive my pain and loss is through thoughtful distractions. In this exercise, I’ve found the U.S. Postal Service to be a wonderful ally.
Some years ago, through a local organization, I was sending small amounts of money to help support a child in a distant country. The organization encouraged correspondence, so my little girl sent me pictures and letters telling me about her country, her family and her life. In turn, I sent her letters and hand-drawn maps of California and the San Francisco Bay area where I live (some of these maps were hilarious). We seemed to be equally interested in each other’s circumstances, ideas and values. Her letters were always brimming with sweetness and appreciation. We shared many sentiments, and this happy relationship continued for some years until she outgrew the program.
Now I embark on different distractions. Every so often I decide on a subject to investigate and scan through catalogs that come in the mail, selecting several easy-to-read books on my topic of choice. My pace of reading is inconsistent, depending on how I feel. But I’ve learned that sticking to the same subject for several years can yield enormous rewards.
For example, several years ago I became interested in studying the environment. This soon expanded to include the whole cosmos. It’s exciting to learn about the “stuff” in space from microwaves, to quasars, to black holes. The sky is a very busy place, and spectacular things are happening there.
I’ve learned that all life on earth is dependent on the sun; that the moon, a small pebble in the cosmos, controls the tides of millions of square miles of water; that our bodies contain atoms that were fashioned in ancient stars; that scientists are still proving the theories of Albert Einstein. As I begin to see some of the elegant design of creation, I’m awestruck by its magnificence. It has enlarged my life.
How connected we all are to each other and to the universe! Even our ancestors from ancient times seemed to have been always studying the skies. It’s like a kinship between us and the heavens.
And the opportunities for exploration (my personal form of therapeutic distraction) are endless. How long can everything in known creation travel through the sky at breakneck speed? Where does the sky end? Does it have a front and back side? How can I find out?
There’s always a new question beckoning.