Seeing Stars


(Today’s blog post is part of a continuing series of personal stories about living with Trigeminal Neuralgia, the most painful diagnosis known to man.)

“We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” 

That quote up there, penned by Oscar Wilde, is one of my favorites.  Okay, I’ve got to be honest, the first time I heard it was not from Wilde’s work.  Rather, it was lifted by The Pretenders for the song, “Message Of Love.”  But it resonated with me just the same.

While I have always appreciated that line, over time I have come to take umbrage with it.  I don’t think only some of us are looking at the stars.  I think each of us do it every night, albeit in a way that is perhaps meted out in different weights based on the lives we live.

What do I mean?  Well, I have Trigeminal Neuralgia, an extremely painful medical condition that impacts my life daily.  Initially, it kind of sunk me mentally.  But after a while, I began shifting my expectations for what constitutes a successful day.  In the past, the stars on which I hooked my wagon were mainly professional – putting together a successful annual business plan, not making a fool of myself in an important presentation, being recognized and promoted to a higher position.  After the TN hit with a vengeance, the stars I followed became more modest.  Meeting a friend for dinner.  Writing a blog post.  Taking a shower.

Okay, that sounds totally depressing.  But here’s the thing…when I really thought about it, I realized that almost everyone is dealing with something.  True, I have a debilitating condition, but others have illnesses that are terminal.  Some are dealing with the loss of a loved one.  People struggle each day with mental illness that is as paralyzing is TN.  Good people, hard working people, are striving not for luxury cars or fancy clothes but rather for keeping the roof over there heads and food on the table.  Others are painfully lonely.

And in our own ways, we are all looking at the stars finding just one that we wish upon to guide us to a brighter future.  Yes, there are those that lose hope, and there are moments I can understand why.  Yet by and large, I think we all look to the heavens with an eye toward a future we think is possible no matter how small the improvement may be.  And in our quiet moments, our most desperate moments, we also wish upon the stars for much loftier aspirations.  A cure for TN.  A cure for cancer.  Peace in this world.

So on this day, when in the past the dark of night brought forth a star which some believe led the Magi to begin their trek to the town of Bethlehem, my hope for us all is simple.  One star, no matter how bright or dim, for each of us to follow, to guide us to a life that is just a little better than it was yesterday.

And remember, in the words of John Lennon, “We all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.”



4 responses to “Seeing Stars

  1. Wonderful thoughts from another person living with TN (and an autoimmune illness).

  2. Thanks for writing this. We all need hope.

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