"In turmoil, I walked wearily along the water's edge, comparing myself to others my own age, people of seemingly boundless vitality. I came up wanting. I remember thinking that this disease had robbed me of my youth. I did not yet know what it had given me in exchange.
"In response to these painful thoughts, a wave of intense rage flooded me, the sort of feeling I had experienced many times before. But for some reason, this time I did not drown in it. Instead, I sort of noticed it go by and something inside me said, 'You have no vitality? Here's your vitality.'
"Shocked, I recognized the connection between my anger and my will to live. My anger was my will to live turned inside out. My life force was just as intense, just as powerful as my anger, but for the first time I could experience it as different and feel it directly. In that first moment of surprise, I had a glimpse of something fundamental about who I am; that at the core of things I have an intense love of life, a wish to participate fully in life and to help others to do the same. Somehow this had grown large in me as a result of the very limitations that I had thought were thwarting it. Like the power of a dammed river. I had not known this before. I also knew that in its present form, as rage, this power was trapped. My anger had helped me to survive, to resist my disease, even to fight on, but in the form of anger I could not use my strength to build the kind of life I longed to live. And then I knew that I no longer needed to do it this way. I knew with absolute certainty that my pain was nobody's fault; that the world was not to blame for it. It was a moment of real freedom."
- Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal
Kitchen Table Wisom is a book of very very short essays drawn from Dr. Remen's clinical and personal experiences with chronic and terminal illness. It's the book I lend to friends going through hard times, because over and over it offers hopeful messages and new ways to look at the world.