Last week I had this dream I was perfect.
I was tall and leggy. I had sweet, brown-colored skin and light eyes.
I had perfect hearing.
There was no ringing in my ears, so when you told me things like, “Your coffee is getting cold.” or “My name is …” or “I love you.” I understood.
I was happy in this dream.
Of course, I didn’t realize I was happy.
I woke up and tried to get back into the dream, but, as you know, that is impossible.
I almost got there, but in the new version of the dream I was short and fully deaf, instead of partially. Everything else was the same as the first dream.
I thought about the dream all day.
I realized later that day that maybe I wasn’t happy in the first dream, after all. Maybe I had just assumed, in that brief moment when I woke by my alarm, and I couldn’t get back, that I had been happy, since it’s our nature to assume that what we can’t have is better.
I have gotten over my height, my skin color, my weight, and the fact that light eyes got passed over on me.
Oh, what it would be like to hear a whistle!
A bird. Ice clinking in a glass. The television. My own yoga teacher. My own breath. Someone saying my name as a whisper.
As I sit here and listen to the ringing in my ears that never goes away, I fall into a state of meditation, as if my tinnitus were actually a constant “Om” in my head instead of torture.
Then it hit me like a ton of bells ringing. This package of me, the sum total of all my parts, is greater than my hearing loss. I am normally terrified of equations, but as soon as I stop and think about the mathematics of myself, I know that I have accepted my loss indeed. I realize that this profound hearing loss, which causes me so much pain and aggravation—so much sadness and loneliness—also causes me so much love.
I had never thought of love quite like that. As if it were an effect that had been caused by something. I always thought it was just something like the weather—it just was. Like love just appeared one day like the wind, and we accepted it as Nature just doing its thing, running its course. We don’t question love most days. I love my mother, I love my husband, I love my students. It just is. This I know.
But there is a cause and effect.
My hearing loss has caused me love because people have been drawn to my compassion, which is my loss transformed. I have been able to turn my deafness into my grace, and that grace has opened me to love I never dreamed possible.
So today I change my mind. I accept this thing about myself that I once hated. By doing that I allow other things about me to shine. Those things, like my sense of humor and my touch. My vision beyond what my eyes can see, and my kindness. My philosophy of “If you fall you must laugh” was born out of not being able to hear. You can’t take life too seriously.
I mean, how can you, when you can’t hear most of it?
My hearing loss has allowed me to laugh at myself, which in turn has allowed others to laugh at themselves.
What a gift!
I had a dream last night and I was me in the dream. Regular old me. Mostly deaf, kind of clumsy, hazel eyes, pale skin, silly. In it, someone leaned over and asked me if I was happy.
I laughed and said, “Of course I am happy. Why wouldn’t I be? Now pour me another glass of wine.”
Jennifer Pastiloff was recently featured on Good Morning America. She is a yoga teacher, writer, and advocate for children with special needs based in L.A. She is also the creator of Manifestation Yoga® and leads retreats and workshops all over the world. Jennifer is currently writing a book and has a popular daily blog called Manifestation Station. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.