A Cultural Perspective: The art of acceptance

Web Lead

I have been struggling with this column. I had planned on writing something grandiose regarding the differences in cultures, the global Petri dish for varying levels and types of acceptance. What you accept … depends on who you are and where you come from. I had planned on talking about how a lot of what we label good and bad can come from acceptance. How we can accept what is right just as easily as we can accept what is wrong. We are a funny animal.

Lately, though, I’ve been experiencing acceptance on a much more micro scale. Not what is good or bad or what is right or wrong — just what is: 1996, 1997 and 1998 were the years that my younger sister, my younger brother and I were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I had been plagued by mysterious illnesses off and on for 13 years and sought acceptance from a medical community that began to see me as mentally ill. I happily accepted my “diagnosis”; however, accepting MS is something that I find I am still trying to do.

I have relapsing remitting, secondary progressive MS (what a mouthful). My sister has chronic progressive MS. My brother has acute onset MS. We have some symptoms in common but the progression and effects of our MS is different for each of us.

We accepted for fact the statement that misery loves company and other than sharing how tired we were or that our bad leg was acting up we did not talk about MS. It lived in the shadows; we would not give it light. It would not get the best of us.

The last few conversations I have had with my sister Leslie have been difficult to have and accept.

I have experienced some very debilitating periods during my relapses, both mental and physical. They have lasted for days, weeks, months and even years. Recently, I have had to accept that I’ve sprung a leak, and hope I will be able to patch the boat.

I’m sinking and she is under attack.

Fatigue and pain of immense intensity are my opponents daily. I have recently begun to fight cognitive lapses and falling. My sister has gotten leg braces to help her weak legs, but her MS has launched a brutal assault and my sister at the moment (even with the steroid treatment) is too weak to stand or walk unaided. She is experiencing pain to the point of morphine and has been more frightened about “what is” than she thought possible.

We said that we would never let MS get the better of us, but in our talks have had to accept that no matter how valiantly or hard we battle it, inevitably, eventually, we will lose the war.

My sister and I have also accepted that now our talks are a sharing of knowledge in what is happening to us. I know what my sister is going through from personal experience. Now that I have entered the progressive stage of MS where there is no remission, my sister knows how I feel.

We both have had to accept that our “able” can only have a limited use outside ourselves and our families. We accepted we are no longer able to be the community participants we were. I have resigned from all the volunteer activities I had been involved with and so has my sister. It is not what we want to do but … needs do as the devil must. We are not able to regain or recuperate our energy anymore so we decided it must now be spent wisely.

Wildsight, a nature conservancy organization, is putting on its first annual Creston Valley Bird Fest on May 10 and 11. On May 10, they are holding an Art for Birds benefit — an art show and sale featuring bird and nature pieces produced by local artists.

Nature, birds especially, helped me through my darkest hours and I do not know if I would have made it here without them. Because it is so important to me (and should be to us all) I have volunteered to co-ordinate the art show and sale. The sights and sounds birds provided me were so life giving, it is something I felt I had to do. It’s payback time!

If you would like to participate in the Art for Birds benefit as an artist, the deadline for contacting me is noon on April 26.

Birds and/or nature are the subject matter in any medium. Three to four pieces per artist will be the maximum, depending on the number of artists showing and the sizes of their pieces.

If you would like to be a part of the Art for Birds benefit, contact me at loriwikdahl@gmail.com or 250-428-0557.

Little by little, the bird builds her nest.

Lori Wikdahl is a Creston Valley artist.