On being a chronically ill writer

When a recent Instagram prompt asked for a quote that inspired me, just when I was rereading John Irving’s fantastic The Hotel New Hampshire – one of my favorite books of all times – this one jumped out at me.

It particularly speaks to me as a chronically ill person and writer, because I live in a reality where my ambition always outruns my energy, and my mind always outruns my body. Now, I could tell you some inspirational bullshit about how that is wonderful in its own right and not a problem, but that would be a lie.
It’s not wonderful. It is a problem.

And so, I find that my strength does not necessarily come from liking my situation. My strength comes from knowing that even if I strongly dislike my situation, I can still be in it.
I still fight for every shower I take, every exercise I do while taking my slow morning walks, every meal I manage to cook for myself. I still fight for ever goddamn word I write. I’m there. Just because it’s not pleasant, or easy, doesn’t mean that it’s not me. Or that it’s not worthwhile.

So. You don’t have to like pain and frustration – I know I don’t. It’s okay not to be okay. But if you can find a way to be with pain and frustration, to truly be with it, then that will make you the strongest person in the world. And that is what this quote means to me.

The Hotel New Hampshire is one of my favorite books pretty much for that exact reason. It is about survival, about playing the shitty hand you’re dealt in a dignified, meaningful way.
Because, and that’s another great Irving quote, no matter what happens, you always have to keep passing the open window.

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