Stories of Our Lives

I recently watched this hour-long video posted by John Folk-Williams, who writes the Storied Mind blog. The speaker is Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings. Dr. Remen has cared for patients with cancer, and their families, for over thirty years, and is recognized as one of the first physicians to accept the mind/body connection to health. I personally could listen to her speak forever and highly recommend this video and her books. Dr. Remen uses stories, her own and those of her colleagues and patients, to help us find the deeper meaning in our lives.

This video is meant for the general public, and is filled with inspirational, entertaining stories.  I was struck by how much of what she says might be of particular interest to OCD sufferers and their loved ones. For example, Dr. Remen encourages us all to “befriend the unknown.”  It is human nature to seek knowledge, to want answers, and to make sense of it all. But in always following this path, are we missing out on the mystery of life?  As we know, living with uncertainty is a major issue for those with OCD, and part of effective treatment for the disorder involves learning to live with this uncertainty. Dr. Remen takes it one step further and suggests that we should not just tolerate living with uncertainty; we should embrace it. As she says, “Know a little less, wonder a little more.” While no doubt this is a lofty goal for OCD sufferers, it may be one their loved ones could also strive for. When Dan’s OCD was severe, all I wanted was assurance that he would be okay. I needed to know, for sure, that all would be well. It is now clear to me that nobody can predict the future or give us any guarantees. Of course, once our family learned that even severe OCD is treatable, we had a lot of hope for Dan, but hope should not be confused with certainty. Since all of our lives are bound to have unexpected twists and turns, I think the advice to “befriend the unknown” is well taken.

Another point that Dr. Remen makes through her stories is that we all touch others lives in ways we will never realize. I immediately thought of all of the OCD sufferers and their families, as well as doctors and therapists, who share their stories through blogging, speaking, or connecting one-on-one with others. This sharing makes a difference. Their stories matter.

Dr. Remen closes her talk by saying, “So in the end we may measure our value, and the value of our lives, not by our knowledge, not by our possessions, but by our stories. In the end our stories will bless us, and enable us to know at last who we are, what our true value is, and to find peace with our lives.”

I could not have said it better myself.

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8 Responses to Stories of Our Lives

  1. J. Jones says:

    what a wonderful video. It real ly gave me something to think about. I could listen to Dr. Remen all day, she truly is a gift of Holy. Seeing
    my 10 year old struggle with OCD at present and not knowing all the answers to the “whys” maybe I should start knowling a little less and wondering a little more. Thank you for sharing this story.


  2. ocdtalk says:

    You’re welcome……I thought it was definitely worth sharing!

  3. Tina says:

    I can’t watch the video just now, but will make time over the weekend.

    Embracing the unknown is very difficult. I have found that in circumstances where I have had to accept that I would never know the true answer to something, I was actually able to relax and let go.

    I think there’s the tendency for us to think that if we accept not knowing, somehow we’re giving up, that we should continue to try to find out the answer. We think assurance must be around the next corner.

    The trick for me is figuring out when it’s OK to be uncertain. But maybe we can never be “rationally” certain of anything? Not sure if I’m making sense here. It’s a difficult thing.

    Great post, and I look forward to watching the video.

    • ocdtalk says:

      Thanks for your comment, Tina. While there are lots of things about OCD that are hard for me to relate to, not personally having the disorder, I definitely get the uncertainty dilemna…….your thoughts make perfect sense to me…..thank you for your insight.

  4. douglaslisa says:

    Thank you for introducing me to Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen and giving me the opportunity to listen to her sharing these ever so inspiring stories. I feel honored to have had the ability to listen and learn from all she imparted. She is certainly correct that “there is a web of connections that can only be seen through the heart.”

  5. ocdtalk says:

    I’m glad she resonated with you, Lisa. I think she is great also!

  6. 71 & Sunny says:

    I am always struck by your insight into OCD in spite of the fact that you do not personally have it. What I really appreciate is that you remind me that a lot of the basic feelings and fears we have are common to all of mankind. People with OCD just live with these things in the extreme.

    I’ve not had a chance to watch the video yet, but thank you for providing the resource. I’m just starting to understand the concept of living with uncertainty. When I am able to release myself to it, it really is quite freeing.

  7. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for the comment, Sunny. I think you are right. Those with OCD have the same feelings and fears as those without OCD, only taken to the extreme. This allows those of us without OCD to understand what OCD sufferers go through…. but only to a certain (or should I say uncertain 🙂 ) extent.

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