Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

A traditional Daruma doll, with one eye filled...Image via Wikipedia
Did you know that I am in a multiracial marriage? My husband is of Japanese descent and I am of German, Irish and French descent. Being exposed to different ideas, traditions and legends is one of the benefits of being in a multicultural marriage.

This is how I learned about the legend of Daruma and the Japanese proverb nana korobi yaoki, which translates to “Fall down seven times, get up eight”.

Daruma essentially is a wishing doll. You focus on an intention, then color in one of his blank eyes. That's when he goes to work for you, reminding you of your commitment to your goal. When your goal is achieve, you celebrate by filling in his other eye. Read more about Daruma here.

His rolly-polly shape embodies the spirit of the Japanese proverb “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” Knock him over and because of his shape, he'll spring back into his upright stance. (Which makes me wonder if they got the idea for Weebles toys from the Daruma!)

Could my life with chronic illness have a more fitting byline than “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” or a more fitting mascot than Daruma?

Over the past six years learning to live with fibromyalgia, I have endured many setbacks, flare-ups, brick walls, frustrations and disappointments. What has kept me going is persistence and patience. I don't give up when I fall down, I figure out how to get back up. Granted, it might take me a while to work out exactly how I get back up, but eventually I always seem to push my way back to upright.

Plus the many health adversities
I have faced in the past 20+ years, like cancer, diabetes, Hepatitis C and infertility, have taught me to reframe problems as challenges to be faced and mastered. Along the way, I've discovered that I'm a girl who is always up for a challenge. I have also learned to how to endure setbacks. What makes this possible is knowing that setbacks do not last forever, especially if I am patient enough to wait them out and persistent enough to get up and move forward again.

Which brings me to one last pearl of Japanese wisdom: tamashii. This is the Japanese word for indomitable spirit, a word used to describe the traits and attitude of a successful warrior.

Oh my, how my life with chronic illness has developed my tamashii!

How do you face the setbacks and challenges of life with chronic illness? Do you have an inspiring mascot or byline? Share your thoughts by leaving your comment below.

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Anonymous said...

If I'm having a set back, I try everything I can to get as comfortable as possible and then force myself to rest. I vent in my blog, I call my mom, or just watch a funny movie and cuddle with my cat. I love this entry, he is very fitting for every chronic illness and it's such a great story and way to live! Thanx for sharing it!

Migrainista said...

This is a great post! We have so much to learn from other cultures.