Sunday, January 2, 2011

The New Year and a S.O.P.

S.O.P. is my short version of Sense of Purpose. Now that the new year is here, and I am slowly getting better physically, I am once again thinking of it. Yesterday a friend told me that it took an entire year for her to be able to walk again without pain. So, that is out as a S.O.P. I am not going to devote this year to just walking without pain. That will have to be a sub S.O.P. When I was in so much pain I didn't worry about such foolishness as a S.O.P. Pain trumps all else. It is all consuming.

It makes me think again about other painful experiences in my life. I had my appendix out when I was fifteen. I remember gazing out the hospital window and vowing to myself that if I could just go outside and not be in any more pain I would be happy forever. Unfortunately, pain has a way of quickly being forgotten. Or maybe that is fortunate. Can you imagine women remembering the pain of childbirth? If we did, we probably wouldn't have over one child each. 

I find myself wondering--What is the purpose of pain? After almost three months of it being my constant companion, I question what lessons it has taught. Have I learned anything from this isolation and pain? Maybe only time will tell. It made me appreciate being able to get out of that rolling chair and walk around, even though each step is still painful. At least I can get around some. I am still stuck in my yard most of the time. I know there are many things to do here. I just wrote an article about all the things to do here. Yet, I am not interested in any of them. I was never a joiner. I have always been an outsider.  So, clubs and classes don't interest me.

What is left? Going out to eat. Well, that gets old after awhile. I haven't been to the lake since my accident. I am not yet ready to return to the scene of all that pain. I can't take Chico for long walks and that was my primary fun activity before I fell into the lake and broke my ankle.

I have learned that a few people I had thought of as my friends were just acquaintances, only there when I could go out and do interesting things with them. And also, many others have become dear friends. I don't know what I would have done without their help.

But back to this S.O.P. problem. I think we all have to struggle with that issue and especially when the first of the year rolls around. It is a time to step back from our lives and question where we are going and what we want out of them. What do we have to give to the world? What do we need in order to be happy and fulfilled? No one can hand the answers to us because no one else knows our real selves. Even our parents and children cannot enter into our private lives and know what we need. It is hard enough just to enter that space ourselves.  It is too easy to be distracted with the outside world and not think about the internal self. But if we don't, then we are likely to suffer from depression, addictions and a constant sense of emptiness. Nothing in the outside world can take the place of self reflection... Okay, I have said enough now. I wish everyone a Happy New Year and that all your hopes and dreams will be fulfilled. But mostly, I wish that you KNOW your real hopes and dreams and not get sidetracked by the unimportant distractions the world has to offer.

Maybe that is what I have learned all these days of being isolated, not to be led astray by the fleeting pleasures of the world but to know what is really important to me. I still don't have a clear S.O.P. But I am aware that I need to develop one.


  1. Interesting post, Patricia.
    It makes me think our resolutions might be hints of our sense of purpose! At least, I think mine are. :-)

    I wish you a wonderful year that is soon pain-free!

    Karen in VA

  2. Hi Karen, Thanks for writing again. Yes, you are probably right about that. Resolutions and dreams.... Happy New Year to you and hopefully, your dreams for this year will be fulfilled. Patricia

  3. hi patricia,

    hadn't commented in a while as we were out of town vacationing with our sons.

    very interesting post, and oh so true. when we are going through difficulties or challenges, something we all face at one time or another, we quickly find out who our true friends are. from your previous posts, i can see that you have a lot of friends because you had a lot of people help you out, visit, take you out for meals. those are definitely true friends.

    you said that you once promised that if you could be pain free after your hernia (or maybe it appendix) you would be happy forever. i remember making a similar promise. "dear God if you bring my son back safely from iraq, i will never complain about anything again." well, i don't think it's humanly possible to be happy forever or never find something to complain about. life will always have its challenges. i think they make us appreciate the good times even more. by the way, my son did come home safe and sound.

    you said that you've always been an outsider so clubs and classes don't interest you. perhaps that could be one of your new s.o.p. how much spanish do you speak? if it's not much, i would recommend you take a class so that you can better communicate with your mexican neighbors. schools always welcome volunteers. perhaps you can help a child with math, not much spanish needed there, or if you are artistic, perhaps you can teach an art lesson or some simple craft. the teachers would be very appreciative and the kids would welcome the change in their schedules. there are other volunteer opportunities that you can do as well. is there an animal shelter you can help out at? there are a lot of things you can do while sitting until you feel more comfortable moving around. volunteer work is very fulfilling. i spent 2 winters in mexico working with students in an after school program. don't think i could have just sat around all that time without doing something that gave me a sense of purpose. i know people who hang out at the beaach and drink all day. well, to each his own i guess. as for me, i need to remain active and involved in helping people in any way i can.

    i hope you have a properous new year filled with happiness and good health. God willing your pain will lessen with each passing day.

    get out there and make a difference in someone's life and you will be more fulfilled than you can ever imagine.

    God bless you,

    teresa in lake stevens

  4. Hi Teresa, Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I will think about it some more. God bless you too. Patricia