Thank You to Our Wise Elders!

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When I was offered the chance to write this blog, I was excited by the opportunity to share my thoughts with other people who have diabetes. I was excited for the personal growth this weekly writing exercise might inspire in me. And I was hopeful that I might be of some help, some benefit, to the people who would be reading each weekly column.

Well, it’s now been over five months since I started this endeavor. I’ve written faithfully each week, sometimes coming up with “inspired” ideas, sometimes searching every last corner to find something that might be moderately interesting to put out. I’ve been through some high times in my own life, and some low times. As a country, we’ve been through an election, a devastating storm in the Northeast, unfathomable tragedies in Connecticut, Colorado, and elsewhere, and a Super Bowl coached by two guys with the same last name.

Thinking about my topic for the week, I thought I might spend some time reflecting on the five months I’ve spent writing this blog, and share my impressions with readers. And so I sat down to reflect on this journey. I leaned back in my chair, coffee by my side, and starting “musing.” I was about five minutes into this when my phone “pinged” me and stopped my “quiet reflection period.”

You see, my phone downloads e-mail (something the cell phones of most six-year-olds probably can do in this day and age). Every time someone new comments on one of my entries, it gets sent to me as an e-mail. I might be walking through the grocery store, sitting drinking coffee, or waiting for a client who fails to make an appointment, and my phone will give me a soft little “ping,” and I’ll find a new comment.

I love these comments. In fact, this has been my most cherished reward for these weekly writings. In particular, I have cherished receiving comments from those readers who have lived for 30, 40, or 50 years with diabetes. Their wisdom and grace shines through their words in a way that gives me some faith in the capacity of the human spirit!

America has always been obsessed with youth, with what is new. I’m reading Team of Rivals at the moment, and even in 1850’s America, life moved quickly. Life was full of excitement, and the country looked ever toward the “new.” And to be sure, a great many things have come of this — not the least of which was the discovery of modern medicine and the isolation of insulin!

Nevertheless, reading the comments of older readers, readers who have lived with diabetes with grace, skill, and acceptance for so many years, reminds me of the power of wisdom — the kind of wisdom that cannot be gained quickly; the kind of wisdom that grows steadily, slowly, and deeply.

Quite often, reading such a comment will serve to remind me of what’s important. Just the other day, I was stewing in my own emotional reaction to a day of high numbers (followed the next day by a cold now working its way through my lungs, nose, and throat) when one of these e-mails “pinged.” I thumbed through the e-mails on my phone and read a comment from someone who has lived with diabetes for 45 years. The author spoke with a tone that’s hard to pinpoint, except to say their words made it clear that diabetes was a lifelong practice, one that they had come to understand on a level that goes beyond “good or bad,” “like or dislike,” or reactionary emotion. It was akin to hearing a monk talk about the spring flowers; there was a sense of calm, acceptance, world-wisdom, and grace that reminded me how precious our lives are, moment to moment.

Of course, I have enjoyed ALL of the comments I’ve received — I certainly don’t mean to leave out those of you who are new to diabetes, or fellow middle-age Diabetians (did I just write fellow middle-age Diabetians? Wow…). But it seems to me that a special thanks should be given to our wise elders. You are the pioneers, the ones who forged the path, and all of us who follow are wiser, better educated, and better situated for your efforts. I can get upset about the numbers my modern meter is showing me, but I’ve always had the privilege of using my own meter. I can get upset about an unexpected spike in blood glucose, but for the majority of my Diabetian life, I’ve been able to correct it with rapid-acting insulin.

So, thank you. Thank you for the perseverance, thank you for your sacrifices, and thank you for the wisdom you have shared with so many of us. We are, and will always be, grateful followers in your footsteps.

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