Monday, August 2

The Spoon Theory, or Living With Chronic and Catastrophic Ilness

There are two videos included here.  If you are reading this post from an email subscription, it's likely that you'll have to link through to the site to view the videos. They're both worth the time and effort.

I originally encountered The Spoon Theory when a dear friend with MS sent me it in the form of a feature article.  Subsequently I found it posted in video format on Us Verses Lupus, whose post was reblogged by Kim at silentlyheardonce. Thank you, ladies!

The Spoon Theory is a clear and vivid way of explaining what it is like to live with any chronic, catastrophic and potentially life-threatening illness. I suspect that it is also explains what life is like for those who have lived long enough to be described as "elderly."

The first step in living successfully with catastrophic illness and advanced aging is to recognize (acknowledge/understand) the ramifications in terms of everyday life and its details. The Spoon Theory (video above) helps with that.

The second step is acceptance. That's about letting go of your story. It's about not being defined by the circumstances of your life. It's about living with not struggling against. This requires something much more profound than positive thinking, which does offer some help but only at a superficial level.

Letting go of our story means letting go of judgement and attachment and a sense of victimization, which are the root causes of many of our very human pathologies. The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote of this my-story mentality as "striving, disappointment, and boredom" or a life that is devoid of Spirit. Songwriters, who often make their living by stoking the "pain body" or the residue of emotional pain that stays with us [Eckhart Tolle], call this the IFD disease - idealization, frustration (the ideal cannot be achieved) and demoralization.

The third step in the journey is to adapt, a business of the heart. Adapting is not about giving up. It's about joy and gratitude and no one says that better than the beloved Benedictine Monk, Brother David Stendl-Rast (video below), who combines the wisdom of traditional Christianity with the wisdom and pragmatism of Buddhism.

© 2014, words, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day), All rights reserved


  • Thank you so much for this! Both videos are so powerful. I have been living with so few spoons lately that I haven’t been able to even read much. And yet when I think about all I have been given, I feel so rich. Albeit rich and tired. Thanks again!

  • Thank you for sharing your situation. I’m happy to know you found some comfort and perhaps encouragement with this. I found the videos helpful and thought outher might as well. Yes, my spoons are litmited now as well, but we soldier on. Blessings, Jamie

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