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Duality is defined as “an instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something.”

Life is full of duality and so is living with a chronic health condition. Living in a body that does not always want to cooperate has its challenges and there is no denying that. To deny it, is well…to lie. Yet despite these challenges, or actually more likely because of them, I am also more deeply aware of the ease by which life can be lived.

Like most people who live with a chronic condition, I live in a constant state of contradiction. I am in physical pain but it is this very pain that reminds me that I am alive. My disease’s unpredictable nature, forces me to live more simply, more slowly and with more care. Sometimes this is highly annoying and incredibly frustrating but other times, it affords me the opportunity to be fully engaged in the present and I am better able to appreciate the quiet subtle joys of life often missed in the hectic world that flies by me now.

I hate my disease. It changed my life. I cannot say with any amount of honesty that I like all the changes it has made. I miss my work. I miss my career. I miss having more energy. I miss good health. But, true to the duality of life with a chronic condition, I am also grateful for my disease. My disease has given me a new respect for the value of life. My disease has given me more desire to be forgiving. My disease has made me less judgmental of what I don’t understand. My disease has helped me learn to appreciate new priorities in my life.

My disease has taught me how to put gratitude into practical use. I take nothing for granted anymore or at least I try a lot harder to take nothing for granted anymore. I wake each day thinking about my family and the love I feel for them with thanks for the gift of another day. I wake each day more refreshed because I wake focused on love instead of worry. I have my disease to thank for this.

We all live in contrast. We all live a life of opposites…good with bad…but there are certain things that happen in life, when we let them, that can teach us important lessons. I have allowed my disease to be a teacher. I made a choice to see the good despite the bad. I don’t ignore the bad. I don’t pretend it does not exist, I simply opt to make room for both and I have come to understand that many shades of gray is actually where life is best lived and most understood.

I have come to understand that being open to the duality of life, makes it more rewarding. I have come to know that challenge brings change and that it is up to me to decide how to put that change to good use.

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