Saturday, 17 January 2009

a curious lightness of being

A friend of mine who is recovering from cancer commented recently that the illness tends to bring on enlightenment. It's a funny thing to say, but it does stand to reason. Facing the possibility of premature death tends to throw one's whole life into perspective. ‘Am I ready to die?’ is a question that springs to mind. For a spiritual being, it should be a question we ask ourselves daily anyway.

It's like that conversation I used to have at dinner parties that started: if you had a year to live and had no money or health worries, what would you do? Laurence LeShan poses it in his workbook in Cancer as a Turning Point. He found that even terminally ill cancer patients, when encouraged to find their deep passion and zest for a vocation, often stifled, made remarkable recoveries from cancer, or at least had a more fulfilling end to their life. Personally, I've always just tended to do what I wanted to do in life anyway, so there's not much I regret not doing. But I managed to come up with a short list and plan to add to it over time. MORE OF: laughing, happiness, intimacy, friendship, adventures, food growing, holistic beekeeping, dancing, travel to exotic places (well, that will have to be by freighter). START: reading about Einstein, learning to play the cello. LESS OF: chores. It seems like such a sparse, undemanding list, given the opportunity to have my dreams come true. But it is what it is.

If it is possible to be frog-marched down the road to enlightenment, I suspect it might go something like this. Gratitude: As I wrote last week, whatever time remains appears more intense. Little details seem like tailor-made miracles. Judgement and reactions: So what? Life really might be too short. Even those nasty people who are trashing my planet are, to me now, simply ignorant; let it all go. Bad habits: Stuff that; I want to live my remaining days to the full, not lost in a cloud. Forgiveness: It's physically much easier to say sorry than to bear a grudge. Living in the moment: More than ever, so much of the busy-ness we call life and where we put our energies seems rather a waste of time. I can't even work myself up into a lather about the credit crunch; faced with possible death, both the voice of the news and even the voices in my head seem tedious. What remains are the core values that we all live with; love, truth, hope, happiness, which, like the vegan-esque diet I've been on, contributes to a rather curious lightness of being.


Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Adrienne, you have put into words the essence of what Life is actually all about.

You say that you will do "more of" several things, the sadness for so many is that they live an entire lifetime and don't do any of them.

The 'Cancer as a Turning Point Vision' worked for a close friend of mine, who said, (in her own words) "Sod it, now for some 'me' time".

You are in my thoughts and prayers,


MAIA said...

Hi Adrienne, I agree with Peter....and the thoughts and feelings you expressed are mirrored by my own after Christopher's premature, unexpected death. I don't have any head-space for the news or any World events, just Love, friends, family, good food and me time, oh and volunteering at BCU school in the jungle where I can do something meaningful for a while.

love, Maia