problem-solving isn’t always necessary

illustration by elisabeth gilbert

The following words are from author Elisabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), but they resonated so deeply with me I was compelled to share them with the readers of this blog. My humble, transparent comments follow hers.

Dear Ones:

I woke up this morning with my mind in a tangle and my emotions in a storm.

I lay there in bed for a long time, wrestling with my thoughts and fighting hard against my feelings. But I was losing ground. No matter how hard I used my powerful THOUGHTS to try to extract myself from my other powerful THOUGHTS, it didn’t work. My THOUGHTS just got darker, and then my THOUGHTS about my THOUGHTS got darker, and then my THOUGHTS about my THOUGHTS got more panicked and distressed until new and worse THOUGHTS arose, and now we have a tornado, folks. (This has happened to me before. But only once or twice.) My mind thought: I NEED MORE THOUGHTS, TO FIX THESE THOUGHTS! THINK HARDER! FIND A SOLUTION TO EVERYTHING! STOP THIS! GET CONTROL! DIFFERENT THOUGHTS! BETTER THOUGHTS!

Then I remembered: I cannot use my mind to help my mind when my mind is in distress. At these moments, only the heart can help.


My heart stepped in quietly and said to my tired mind: “Come and rest your tangle here with me. I’ll take care of you, just the way you are.” My mind said, “But, but, BUT – ” My heart said, “Shhh. I’ve got you.” Then we all rested together – me, mind, heart.

No solving happened this morning.

Solving doesn’t always have to happen.

Sometimes it can’t. Sometimes all you need is a safe place to rest.


Then I got up and drew this picture, for the next time I forget.



So… this post has been a while coming in some respects, but putting together all the pieces has been a real challenge until I read Ms Gilbert’s thoughts. As it happens, I’ve been quite lost at the bottom of an emotional stream, unable to find my way to the surface. Though I should have known much better, I continued to fight the battle in my head, with my head, which led to disastrous results.

A little background:

Though I am a whopping 68 years old, I have struggled with seizures much of my life and was only recently correctly diagnosed with Mesial Temporal Sclerosis. In a nutshell, my MTS was the result of a severe blow to my left temporal lobe when I was a child a the resultant scar tissue that led to ongoing seizure activity. I was misdiagnosed with epilepsy, which provided little relief.

A dear friend referred my wife Joy and me to the University of Indiana Epilepogy Center and their first words in December of 2017 were, “You should have come here 20 years ago.” Long story short, after several intense tests, including briefly taking me off all my meds to monitor how many seizures I would have under observation [8], it was determined I am an excellent candidate for brain surgery.

Here I am Friday evening 06 April 2018 considering everything as it was, is and hopefully will be. The surgeon who is doing the major portion of the surgery has told me the removal of the scar tissue {about the size of a nickel, I’m told) will leave me totally seizure-free. He said this type of surgery absolutely guarantees such a statement. I believe him… but I have years and years of thoughts from a belief system in my head that is quietly arguing back — a belief system at the bottom of the emotional stream that tells me life will always be this way, that I will always be on powerful, mind-altering drugs, that every waking moment is nothing less than a quiet, life-stealing dwelling on the inward life. And of course, that’s all interrupted every two to three weeks when I quietly step out of myself and all that is real for about 15 or so minutes.

You are probably wondering where this puts me in the context of Ms Gilbert’s heartfelt expression. As I see it, it has taken me coming to this place of relief and rescue to confront my demons, and realize what a grievous coward I am in life. What would life have been like for me had I not begun to receive treatment from Indiana University Neuroscience Center and Goodman Cambell Brain and Spine? I have spent literally countless hours in my life wondering who I would have been had my dreams not been derailed…

But I have gone far enough down that road. It’s critical to note that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and David has blessed me with the most amazing and godly bride of over 30 years and counting. She has saved my life time and time again, and it is not me who loves her so much as it is Jesus in me who loves her through me. I some good friends in my life who keep me constantly lifted up in prayer — and bathed in it when necessary.

God is good and life is good. I am in no way out of the stream, but I am swimming near the surface. I am nowhere close to the bank yet, but I am strong enough to not be pulled under again. And for that, I am grateful for Ms Gilbert’s writing.