Deepak Chopra teaches that everyone has unique talents and that using them to do something you love, especially if in service to others, creates a sense of purpose in life. For many years, I lived without that sense of purpose. My physical symptoms were so limiting that I gave up trying to participate in the things that made me happy. I’ve recently changed that situation.
After decades without music in my life, early this summer I rejoined the Sweet Adelines, a women’s barbershop harmony group. Singing in general, and in this group in particular, was near and dear to my heart, but for years I had neither the energy nor motivation to participate. However, in June, my local chapter held a recruitment drive, inviting newcomers to attend the group’s rehearsals and learn a few patriotic songs, then perform in a public concert on the Fourth of July. In a moment of weakness, I accepted a friend’s invitation. I reasoned I could do anything for four weeks.
I’m pleased to announce that after that recruitment month, I became a full-fledged member again after a nearly 20-year absence. Each Monday night, I attend a rehearsal from 7-10 p.m. A year ago, I would have said that I was incapable of such a commitment. Even staying awake until 10 p.m. was incomprehensible.
But Chopra was right. Expressing unique talents makes one lose track of time. Yes, I’m exhausted on Tuesdays. I’m careful not to schedule anything requiring physical effort at all on that day. Regardless, the joy of Monday evenings is worth every bit of resulting exhaustion. Not only can I stay awake until 10, but I also become so energized that sleeping that night is often a challenge.
Am I able to participate to the extent that the others do? No, I am not. While others stand on risers, I’m often seated on a chair nearby. I admit to feeling guilty that I’m not putting forth as much effort as the others. But no one cares except me. I was careful to make my energy limitations known to the director before accepting membership. As long as I could manage to stand during performances, being seated during the three-hour rehearsals was acceptable to her.
This effort has reaped many blessings. I have a new group of friends, all sharing the common bond of music. I have something positive to think about besides the discomfort I routinely tolerate. I have an activity I look forward to with great anticipation each week. I have an opportunity to feel part of the community, part of the world, and part of life — all of which were lacking for a long time.
I would encourage each fellow fibromite to self-examine. I know very well that your life includes pain and fatigue and a myriad other ailments that come and go. But does it include any of the things that you most enjoy? Do you use the talents that are uniquely yours? Perhaps some modifications may be required, similar to my being seated while the rest of the chorus stands. But I guarantee that it’s worth it. Your life will be richer, and your symptoms will become more tolerable. Reach out! Take a chance! What’s the worst that could happen?
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