Friday, May 13, 2011

That Serenity Thing Again... (Or maybe it's something else?)


When she read the first draft of my thesis, my graduate advisor noticed that I write to figure things out. "In your next draft, " she suggested, "take the final paragraph from each of these sections, put it as the first paragraph and write from there."

Since this is a blog, you are going to get the "figuring things out" pieces too.

How I Returned to the Concept of Serenity
  1. The Notion of Quality of Life
    I recently read an article about Quality of Life and MS research and care that started me on a binge of reading about quality of life.  I took a test from the The Quality of Life Research Unit at the University of Toronto.
    They define quality of life as "the degree to which a person enjoys the important possibilities of his or her life." They go on to divide it into domains (being, belonging and becoming) and subdomains.  "Quality of Life," they explain, "consists of the relative importance or meaning attached to each particular dimension and the extent of the person's enjoyment with respect to each dimension."
    I emerged from the test with a column of scores representing importance, another column representing satisfaction and a series of scores putting me in the positive or negative for each subdomain.
    While I loved reading how the researchers describe and measure Quality of Life, I was disconcerted when my test results showed my quality of life is only "adequate". My lowest scores are in the areas of physical being and belonging.My highest scores in the areas of spiritual being and growth becoming.
  2. The Problem

    "Disconcerted" is a polite way to put it. My quality of life scores were an integral part of a hissy fit that lasted several days.

    See, the problem with any sort of mapping of my life (this is where I am versus this is where I'd like to be) is that I have so little ability to take action to change things. There is very little I can do on my own and while I have a lot of emotional support (for which I thank you) there are few people available to help me (for instance) repair the walls of the living room. (Living space is part of physical belonging.)
 I emerged with a resolution to learn about contentment.


Contentment is being satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.

Contentment is a countercultural idea in my world. Nearly every message I see is about wanting more, wanting better, wanting different.

While I don't want to be part of that culture (and there I am wanting already), I also don't want to be apathetic. I don't want to be unresponsive to injustice or (more selfishly) to my actual needs.

Is there a middle ground between wanting and apathy?


Suddenly, in a blinding flash, I realize I have come around again to the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference

(Sheesh! Sometimes I work so hard to get to something so simple…)

I can tell I'm not done yet, but I'm onto something. Here are some choices:
  • stay tuned to find out what this is all about, or
  • if you think you know, tell me!





Nicole said...

I realized this world doesn't revolve around "contentment" It does seem to imply apathy. I wasn't equip to answer my skeptic. So I just said nothing.

Kate Wolfe-Jenson said...

Sometimes the answers are slow in coming. I'm still working on this one... Kate