|Photo by the author|
Recently, I stumbled upon in my notebook what I wrote while I was discerning whether I should go for a major operation or not in 2018. I was extremely uncertain then what the future was going to hold for me. After almost two years I see the relevance in what I jotted down just out of my curiosity.
Readiness for a life of self-encouragement
"Be ready always for a good death" is a common phrase that you would hear from devout people while growing up. But I never heard how well you should be prepared when long, chronic illness sets in you at your young and prime age. More and more I try to grasp at the mystery of life and death, I’m compelled to think more about our life here on earth. Life is precious and our time on this universe is certainly short. However this shortness should never allow me to live a life unhappiness and burdensome, instead our life should be blossoming, energetic, positive, fascinating and full of passion. Even though chronic illnesses or other health issues creep into our mortal body, but we should never give up our passion for a fruitful and enjoyable life. Whether we like it or not we are living in a digital world in which individualism is going to stay and grow. Each one would be looking for self reliance, self sufficiency and self satisfaction either in good health or in bad.
Be ready and prepare yourself
Since the chronic disease of ulcerative colitis hit me a few years ago, I have been struggling to make sense of it. A question that keeps on coming to my mind is that how long I should be in this state of drudgery, hopelessness and dryness, however I’m also passionate of living with the condition that my mortal body has to live with. I see that external things are very essential to live our life fully content. Often people prepare for old age, retired life but not for a life of sudden physical suffering caused by chronic illness or accident. I would say that this part is very essential to keep in mind that any moment of our life we could be helpless physically and we need help from others including to move our body.
My experience in religious life has shown that a good number of priests and nuns suffer from some sort of helplessness and depression having not learnt how to make life interesting in their senior years or when the chronic like illnesses strike them at a younger age. You become what you contemplate! If you think that you are useless, unprofitable after your retirement you would begin to show the signs of old age and that you don't like to do anything. Therefore, we need to prepare for future eventualities with simple things. For example when you are terribly sick or bed ridden either because your limb is broken or chronic illness has hit you, you cannot use your formal clothes but you need something conducive to wear and be comfortable on your bed and in your room. When you are terribly sick you will be spending your time either in your room or in the house/apartment.
Interestingly, St Ignatius of Loyola was very particular about the kind of domicile that the Jesuits would have. For him, in a residence Jesuit would pray, carry out his mission and as well rest. Here is what the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus speaks about: "Keeping in mind apostolic poverty and our witness to those among whom we must live, our houses should be made suitable for apostolic work, study, prayer, relaxation of mind, and a friendly spirit, so that our members will feel at home in their own house and so more efficaciously carry on our apostolic mission (No. 327 §1). That means, the British would say, "Englishman's home is his castle".
Moving an inch closer everyday to our final destiny
Every human being that is born in this world after one's youth years are passed gets embroiled with either one sickness or other ailment. Many build their houses and furnish apartments only for healthy men and women. Every day is a day closer to our graves and here in our context, everyday we are getting closer to our old age. That means you should have your domicile conducive for your living. A clean, neat, well furnished apartment or house with all the facilities at your disposal will serve a lot in making your life hassle free when physical abilities begin to diminish.
When sickness in your body is dancing, reading a book is a terrible nightmare, instead you might like to listen some classical and soothing music. So you might like to have a collection of such soothing music to your ears with all the facilities related to it. Music heals say many. You might like to do some painting in order to kill the time and boredom that is at your disposal at plenty. You might like to get back to your childhood hobbies like reading story books, novels, etc. Get all those things to read or do some painting in your home. You might also like to play some music; get hold of synthesisers or musical instruments which come handy, easy to learn and play. This might bring some relief in your new situation to kill time and utilise time more creatively and profitably.
We have spent almost six months now either state or person imposed lockdown at the wake of Corona outbreak. Probably we will be spending some more time in this marooned situation until Corona vanishes away from our sight. This home arrest has taught us how important space in our homes and communities is. Our domicile has to be liveable for a happy and comfortable life. That means we need to have things which are very important to make our life possible. We need to be wise enough to understand the necessity of making our domiciles conducive and hospitable for ourselves first.
- Olvin Veigas, SJ
23 September 2020