‘I have decided,’ announced my psychologist/coach friend, Krystyna Kidson, ‘to make the most of things while I have them. To that end, I’m going to learn to roller-skate!’*
We were discussing life with chronic illness and, in particular, I was lamenting the loss of predictability and control.
‘How can I go on,’ I moaned, ‘when I never know what my body is going to do next? How can I make plans for the future? It’s like living with a dark cloud hanging over my head, and the storm could break at any moment!’
That’s when Krystyna dropped the ‘Roller-skate while you can’ bombshell in my lap.
‘Roller-skate while you can.’
It struck a chord with me. Many things in this life are outside our control. When you live with chronic illness, your own body is outside of your control. It’s like living with a ticking time bomb. (If you live with chronic illness, you know what I’m talking about.)
So what do we do? Shall we live in fear, ruled by the What-Ifs of what might go wrong in the next year, the next month, the next hour? Shall we withdraw from the world and become cranky old hermits, irritable with everyone and everything? Shall we give up on life altogether?
But the roller-skating metaphor offers us an alternative. It’s a chance to do the things we love, while we can still do them—knowing that any day they might be taken from us. It’s spending time with the people we love, while we still have them. It’s staying in this present moment, rather than getting swept away by the worst-case scenario.
It’s a chance to do the things we love, while we can still do them.
Easier said than done. I often forget about such inner resolutions and get caught up in riptides of depression and panic about the future. It’s times like these when I call on good friends to remind me of the joys of roller-skating.
We can’t do this alone—and we don’t have to.
My version of roller-skating is doing the job I love: counselling. It’s sitting down on my day off to write. It’s playing the keyboard and singing around the house. It’s spending time in nature, going for a walk without having a particular destination in mind. It’s being with my loved ones, people who love and support me and get me back on my feet to ‘roller-skate’ when I need it.
My version of roller-skating is doing the work I love…It’s being with my loved ones.
It’s playing with my cat. It’s having fun, if only briefly. It’s standing in the sunshine for a few extra moments. It’s indulging in *really* good chocolate. It’s being awoken by a thunderstorm—and loving every minute of it.
This life is filled with beautiful and terrible things. Chronic illness is a beast of unique suffering and unpredictability. We never know what is coming around the corner. Even our faith in God is no guarantee of things not going wrong. So let’s dance, sing, work, love, pray—and roller-skate—while we can.
What’s your version of roller-skating? What keeps you going when it seems like chronic illness threatens to take the life you love? Do you have friends to call on when the fear and depression is overwhelming? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.