How do I live a good, full life in the midst of infertility? Two practices have really helped me in my healing:
1. Staying present.
2. Paying attention to ordinary things.
Let me show you what I mean:
I started listening to the RENT soundtrack over twenty years ago when my freshman year roommate introduced me to the musical. I know that music backwards and forwards. But, you know how when you’ve listened to something so many times and then you hear it, I mean really hear it, for the first time? Well, that happened to me while driving home from Tennessee yesterday.
The song “Life Support” came on — a group of AIDS patients were gathered together for a support group. They sang, “Forget regret or life is yours to miss.” Then one of the participants chimed in that he wasn’t so sure about this because his T cells were low and he regrets that news. The leader asked him how he felt that day. “Okay.” “Is that all?” “Best I’ve felt all year.” “Then why choose fear.” “I’m a New Yorker, fear’s my life!”
This exchange really spoke to me — maybe for the first time. At least for the first time since I was diagnosed with infertility. It’s easy to get caught up in what was or what might be and forget about this moment. I have robbed myself of joy in front of me because I am focused on the sadness of the past or the uncertainty of the future.
Listening to this song, being present to what I was hearing, gave me an opportunity to receive a powerful lesson while driving home. I was reminded that the present is all that’s promised to me, so I need to appreciate it.
Soon after hearing this song, I found myself driving in a really strong pop up rain shower. I could barely see the cars in front of me because it was raining so hard. Soon it started to let up a bit and the sun came out, but it was still raining. I knew there had to be a rainbow somewhere. I was looking out the windows and in the rearview mirrors and then — there it was! A beautiful rainbow! I think I even said out loud, “There you are!”
For the next several minutes I kept looking in those mirrors trying to get another glimpse of the rainbow. However, whenever the highway turned, I’d lose sight of the rainbow, so I’d have to search again. In that moment, because I was paying attention, I realized what I was doing… I was looking backward trying to hold onto the beauty behind me, instead of focusing forward on beauty that was in front of me. And there was beauty in front of me! Big, puffy clouds in a bright blue sky.
Not only was I missing the beauty in front of me, I was putting myself in danger by constantly trying to see what was behind me instead of what was in front of me! By holding on to the past, I was missing the future. By always looking backward, I was increasing my chances of an accident.
In this experience I was present to the moment, while also observing my own behavior. In doing so, I was able to gain a valuable lesson about keeping my eyes forward. It didn’t hurt to look back occasionally and remind myself of the beauty behind me, but my focus really needed to be in front of me, preparing myself for what’s to come.
In total, I think these two experiences encapsulated twenty minutes of my 4.5 hour drive. And yet, because I was present, because I was paying attention to ordinary moments, I learned a great deal about myself and the life I want to live.
If you want to live a good, full life in the midst of infertility or other challenging experience in your life, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter. Beginning in September I’ll have a monthly newsletter focused on this topic — living a good, full life. Each month I’ll offer a practice or ritual to help you find new ways to live a good, full life in the midst of infertility. I hope this newsletter will also help us grow together as a community. I’ll offer a hashtag so that we can share our practices on Instagram and support one another in our desire to live a good, full life.
I’m excited for this new opportunity! I hope you’ll join me.