Essay, Reflections

A Question of Competence… or is it Commitment?

I notice these days that there are a lot of people out there “selling” belief.  I get inundated every day with emails and ads, suggestions for how to improve every aspect of my life through holistic healing, energy work, prayer, divination, spirit guidance, contemplation practices and fitness regimes.  Everyone has an angle that they guarantee will work for me.

But I’m not sure I agree…  Why?

Why can’t I embrace any of these techniques?  Why can’t I even bring myself to try them out?  Clearly my life needs healing in so many ways, and I’ve always been open to both mainstream and alternative means.  Non-judgmental.  Yep, that’s me…

Or is it?  Because I find myself discounting these believers and teachers without even attempting to test their theories.  I find myself hitting “delete” without even listening to their spiel.  Is it just a question of competency?

To be sure, times have definitely changed.  I remember, not so long ago, when “experts” in any field were judged by the length of time they had invested in an area of study, as well as by the efficacy of their results.  Anyone new to a particular field had to “earn” their stripes, so to speak.

But in this digital era of instant gratification, and You Tube, everyone becomes an “expert” by saying they are, and by earning a “following.”  An interested party does an internet search on their topic, then chooses what site(s) to visit, or what videos to watch, not so much by researching qualifications, but by the number of “hits” or “followers” that “teacher” has.  “Mob rules” defined and practiced…

But I’ve never really been a follower type, preferring to take someone’s idea or theory and research it on my own.  Always looking for flaws in reasoning or data, critical in my assessments, judging what part(s) appear to work, or not, for me.  Self-defined reality…

And I can’t honestly state which path is “better” or makes more sense in the end, because both ways have their pros and cons.  Self-definition provides flexibility and adaptability to any path or belief system, but it also prevents any commitment or benefits of dedicated practice; you basically believe or do what you want, while discarding the rest, and that rarely leads to deep knowledge or wisdom.  But mob rule, while clearly directing your practice and belief, without requiring deep contemplation, also requires you to accept a whole lot of stuff you might not normally agree with; much harm has been perpetrated by those following a path too strictly, without regard for how it may affect the lives of others…

Hmm…

I know that in these tumultuous times people are desperate for something hopeful to believe in.  I know everyone wants to feel empowered, capable and competent.  We no longer believe in the “system” to provide for our needs consistently and competently, and we are correct in questioning it; the society we knew and trusted is collapsing around us.  So spirituality has become big business, and gurus are hawking every corner.  And many are providing (and feeling) some relief.  That’s good, right?

Too bad it doesn’t feel that way.  At least to me…

I have been asked twice in the last week or so, to offer my advice/guidance in a public setting; to “teach” on topics I used to be well versed in and confident to teach.  I have refused both opportunities, claiming “incompetence” as my excuse.  I no longer feel “qualified” to offer advice, even on those topics in which I was formerly an “expert,” recognized by both “time in” and “results of.”  And I find the whole situation rather amusing; but then, I’ve always had a twisted perception of reality, and a great appreciation for irony.

The bottom line for me today is that I no longer know what is “real” or not, or what is worthy of believing anymore.  My daily life is so overrun with time inconsistencies, and “bleed-through” from other realities, that I feel like it’s one continuous, unsubstantial, channel surfing adventure.  It’s like being on one of those rides at Disney World, where you sit in a little car that takes you through different scenes, changing rapidly, each trying to capture your imagination and “feel” real, while a part of you remains focused on the hard plastic seat you’re sitting on, and the wealth of darkness framing every scene.  You want to throw yourself into it, to wholly embrace the vision before you, but that seat is so uncomfortable, and the people behind you won’t stop talking, and your stomach is growling (oh, did I forget to eat again today?), and…  well, you get the drift.

I had a dream recently…

In the dream I was one of a half dozen people or so invited to attend a special retreat.  At that retreat we were to be trained on how to “pray” for others, and to teach them how to pray for themselves.  In this case, though, “prayer” referred to the actual practice of miracles; in other words, we would be taught how to manifest real change in the world, and how to pass that skill to others.

At first, I was excited, but then the doubt set in.  I knew that these prayers (this technique) came from a tradition I was familiar with, but not a follower of.  I began questioning whether I had a “right” to attend, coming as I was from curiosity rather than belief.  I found myself speaking about my concerns to a friend I know in real life.  We do not “believe” the same, but we share a mutual respect for each other that often allows us to discuss ethical or moral concerns, and actually learn from each others’ perspective.  When I finished explaining the situation to him (in the dream), he grew very stern, pointed his finger at me accusingly, and said, quite seriously, “you better make damn sure you can commit to this, Lisa, before you go; otherwise, don’t go!”  His whole demeanor spoke of dire warning, as though this were not some trifling matter, which is very unlike him in real life.  I woke, telling myself I’d better test my commitment to this path before attending the retreat…

When I shared this dream with him in real life, he pointed out my use of present tense in the waking world (as in “I’d better be sure before attending…”).  I started to say that it was just a grammar/language error, then stopped myself.  He laughed, quick to catch that, as we both know how careful I am with words in the real world.  I believe our language affects our reality, so I am meticulous about saying what I mean, and meaning what I say.  So there is no room for such a “slip of the tongue” in my world, especially when speaking to him; he will call me on any bullshit he hears…

So…

It’s not really a question of competency plaguing me, I think, but one of commitment.  I know I could learn these “techniques,” whatever they are; I’m basically intelligent, well studied, and own a long tradition of learning and practicing competently.  I am a born teacher.  But I am hesitating, even knowing that such “techniques” may bring actual relief…  Why?

Because I am reluctant to commit to any particular path these days.  I am thoroughly enjoying the free flowing nature of my reality these days.  Because I do not want to be restricted by rules or expectations if something new and more appealing reveals itself to me.  Because I do not want to accept responsibility…

Ahh…  That’s it, then, isn’t it?

Commitment comes with responsibility, and I do not want that in my life.  I do not want to be responsible for others, to be held accountable for what they do with any knowledge (complete or not) they may gain from our interaction.  And that’s what’s missing in the wealth of big business based spirituality, too.  No one wants to be responsible.  No one wants to be held accountable for the “wrongs” committed by their beliefs and believers.  And while I have always believed that people should be held accountable for their own actions, rather than blaming their past or their preacher/teacher, I recognize that there is a line marking where such independence becomes hypocrisy. Because some people truly do influence others who want to be influenced, and we do become at least partially responsible for anything they do “in our name”…

Could I actually learn to change the world?  Could I make it a better place? Could I then competently teach others to do the same?

Can I wholeheartedly commit to finding out?

That is the question, isn’t it?

 

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Conversations, Reflections, Stories..., Visions

“A Lesson on the Evolution of Rocks… and things.”

The Teacher led us to a rocky ledge, basking in the early morning sun, and bade us sit and make ourselves comfortable.  “Steady your breathing and claim your space,” she instructed us.

After some time had passed, she sighed deeply, and began to speak…

This stone I’m sitting upon is warming beneath me…,” she said.  “It’s almost as if it’s absorbing my own heat energy and reflecting it back to me.  Why do you suppose that is?”

No one responded…

Hmm…,” she mused aloud.  “Rocks evolve in a crucible of heat and pressure.  When the proper levels of each are achieved, they transform themselves into entirely different form.  Same matter, maybe (?), but a totally different expression of it, with different qualities, different strengths, different weaknesses…  The same, but different…”

She paused a moment, seemingly lost in thought.  Silence reigned upon the rocky knoll…

So the question then becomes, for me anyway… [a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth] … are the rocks then feeding me (by warming me), or are they feeding off me (by draining off my heat energy in the first place)?  Is the growing heat beneath me reflective of my healing or my weakening?”

Silence held the listeners’ tongues…  Laughing, she turned to look at each of us in turn…

Did you all follow me up here to listen to me talk to myself?”

One seeker spoke up, hesitating and awkward…  “I feel only good coming from the rock I’m with.  The experience is pleasant, comforting, blissful…  I feel more grounded, more centered, more… whole somehow…  I think the rock is helping, rather than hurting me,” he concluded quietly.

Ok, then,” the Teacher responded.  “From your perspective the rock is serving you…  Beautiful!  Wonderful!  How empowering and validating it must be to be loved in this manner!…”  She turned and looked sharply at the speaker.  “But why do you suppose the rock should choose to serve you this way?  Does it gain nothing from its interaction with you?”

Another seeker spoke up…  “Perhaps the good feelings are merely a side effect of the draining of energy…?  Some predators drug their victims so they don’t realize they’re in danger until they are too weak to respond,” she suggested.

Ahhh…,” responded the Teacher.  “In which case, the very rocks upon this Earth may be our enemies, draining us, enslaving us to fuel their evolution…?”

The student did not respond…

Seems curious to me,” mused the Teacher, “that we have so many ‘stone masters’ in our collective human history, if we are indeed their slaves.  Perhaps that is part of the shared delusion the stones create to bend us to their will…?”

Silence settled once more upon the small group.  The sun warmed as it rose higher in the morning sky.  The humans warmed,  absorbing its heat and light.  The rocks warmed, creating a haven of peace and serenity, soothing city souls…

“It seems to me,” a third seeker began, “that everything in the Universe, in Nature, revolves around the principle of exchange…  From the grossest planetary matter, to the tiniest sub-atomic particles, all forms freely exchange energy.  Each expression of matter may use that energy differently, but we are all using the same energy…  Why, then, would this be any different?  Why cast it as an either/or question?”

He looked directly at the Teacher…  And continued.

“Can we not suppose, perhaps, that the exchange of heat energy between us and the rocks is of mutual benefit somehow?”

Interesting question,” the Teacher responded.  “Perhaps we could explore that a bit…?”

When no objections were voiced, she began to speculate aloud…

So, the rock absorbs my heat energy to use for some internal process, and then returns that heat energy to me, making me feel good…?”

No one in the small gathering responded…

But is there then a purpose to this exchange, beyond the mere cycling, or recycling, of energy…?”  Chuckling softly, she continued, mostly to herself.  “Talk about the proverbial waste of time…”

“Unless…,” the third seeker began.  “Unless the rocks transform my heat energy in some manner before returning it to me…?  In which case, it’s not precisely the same energy…?”

Smiling broadly, the Teacher looked directly at the third seeker…  “From which we might conclude that we also transform such energy before passing it back to the stones…?  Or other beings we might encounter along our way?”

“Like bees!,” another seeker exclaimed.  “We, as humans, have mobility that the stones do not innately possess.  I mean, they move, of course, but not nearly as easily as we do.  Perhaps our mutual exchange allows us to carry the stone-transformed energy elsewhere, while leaving some residue of our travels behind!  Such an exchange would benefit both parties, empowering, informing, even directing the evolution of all matter…”

Another seeker jumped in, excitedly… “Gently pushing us all in the same general direction…”

And yet another seeker found her voice…  “Both pushing us forward while reigning us in, so no one form alters too dramatically in a single step!”

All eyes focused on the Teacher…

She sighed deeply, drawing in the early summer morning, then lay back upon her warmed rock.  The seekers waited, expectantly, though none could voice their need.

The same… but different,” she murmured softly.

Soon the Teacher’s gentle snoring became part of the ambient summer soundscape…

 

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Reflections, Visions

“12 Trees…”

I see 12 trees,

standing in a ring,

swaying back and forth in time

powered by a swift spring wind…

The early morning sun kisses their upswept arms

granting each a halo

befitting their stature

while shadows rule beneath…

Birdsong echoes in this forest place,

rustling in the fallen leaves…

Beltane celebrated the old-fashioned way

By those who need it most…

Wishing All a blessed season of growth and healing!  ❤

 

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Dreams, Reflections, Visions

“If you want to lead…”

Interesting dreams and experiences this week, summed up by my dreams last night.  I don’t remember details so much, but the message was clear…

“If you want to lead… lead.

If you want to teach… teach.

If you want to heal… heal.

If you want to speak… speak.”

***

For months now, the messages I’ve gotten have been consistently about stepping back and allowing Others the space they need to decide their own course of development.  I’ve actually become quite proficient at minding my own business.  Not perfect, by any means, as there are always times and situations that create a compelling urge to react, but much better than I previously did.

And now that energy has shifted.  Now, I’m told, we may begin act-ing again, though perhaps not in the traditional sense.  For example, if we envisioned our selves as leaders in this “new” world we wish to co-create, we will not achieve that end by handing down orders or controlling others, as leaders did in the old world; rather, we shall lead by example only.  Get your hands dirty, or get out of the garden!

Likewise, if we fancied our selves as teachers, then we must live our truths rather than preach them.  Words mean nothing today without action.

If we imagined our selves as healers, then the work must begin within.  It is not enough to use words like “should” and “ought to” to describe the path to wholeness.  We must become whole ourselves, and guide others by those actions…

And if we have something to say, we must take responsibility for both the words and the tone of our messages.  Communication is a two-way street, and while we cannot take responsibility for how another interprets our words, we must endeavor at all times to say what we mean, and mean what we say.  Freedom of speech is not a free-for-all arena anymore, by which anyone can justify and legitimize whatever stray thoughts may leak out; consequences will occur…

That being said, I feel lighter and more energized than I have in months.  Obviously, these have always been goals, but now they are imperatives.  And with that comfort of certainty, that awareness that rightful action can once again lead to just outcomes, I feel relief as well as a tightening of the reins of self-discipline.

We are, as always, who we choose to be, and we are free now to reclaim the power of becoming who we’ve always wanted to be.  Be brave.  Be wise.  Be responsible, my friends.  And be free!

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Reflections

“Just Unplug, dammit! Do it!”

I had a dream the Monday before yesterday of which I recall very little.  All I remember is a feeling of frustration as I struggled to make sense of what someone was telling me, and a voice yelling at me as I woke up: “just unplug, dammit!  Do it!”

I don’t know about all of you, but when I hear the term “unplug” in this context, I interpret it to mean get off the internet; take a break from all things electronic, including email, cell phone, games, tv, even blogging.  I wondered at the purpose of unplugging, and figured it had to do with tuning in more to my natural self and the rhythms of nature.

Two days later (on Wednesday) a massive windstorm blew through my city (winds of change, perhaps?), taking down trees and power lines and leaving some 200,000 households (including my own) without electric.  For those of us with forced air gas furnaces, that also meant no heat.  And, of course, no internet or tv…  Unplugged, indeed…

Luckily for me, our house has a woodburning stove, functional and useful, though usually only used for “fun”.  In addition, I have quite a stash of candles (because I love them) and flashlights (from my camping days), so it seemed we might fare better than some.  After all, they were going to be out repairing the damage, right?  And I could easily live without the internet and social media for a day or two, so I was eager to prove I could “survive” this test.

My only concern, really, was my phone and keeping it charged, because we don’t have a landline.  But my workplace never lost power, and they allowed me to recharge there.  I also have a car charger for backup, and a friend lent me a portable charging unit just in case.  All was well…  At first, anyway.

But who knew it would take the power company two and a half days just to assess the damage and develop a plan for restoring power?  And that it would then take several more days, and the helpful intervention of crews from multiple other cities and provinces of Canada to actually make the repairs?  Or that the weather would snap back from “early spring” to “dead of winter,” with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees?

For the first full day and a half, my roommate was here to keep the woodstove burning, and though cold, it was survivable here.  I missed my electronics that first night, but then hardly thought of them again, except for keeping my phone charged for emergencies.  By Friday morning, her asthma (aggravated by the fire) forced her to leave, seeking shelter for her and her dogs at her daughter’s.  And while I received many such offers of shelter, none could accomodate my cat, so I chose to stick it out here, with him.  After all, how long could it take with all these extra crews on site?  And I could surely survive another day… or two.

How blindly optimistic of me to assume I had the necessary survival skills, and supplies, to make it through…  Repairs didn’t even begin until Saturday, and it was late on Monday before our power would be restored.  Just in time for the blizzard blowing into town last night, keeping us holed up for the next three days supposedly…

I share all this with you for two reasons.  First to explain my absence and lack of response to comments and emails; being off the grid has left me way behind, and I may, or may not, catch up.  My apologies to you if I don’t get around to acknowledging you here.

Second, I want to share a few things I learned over the last few days of being totally, and literally, unplugged…

*  Frontier style living is hard work!

I know… “Duh!”  But it looks so easy when other people do it.  Yes, I expected it to be physically challenging, especially with my disabilities (severe joint pain in my lower spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet).  But I had no idea how challenging!

Take hauling wood, for an example.  How easy it looks to pile up a few pieces in your arms, carry it in, and stack it neatly by the stove.  The truth, though, is that it is incredibly dense and heavy, with sharp, uneven edges, and the bending, lifting,  and carrying it upstairs taxed me to my limits.  I thought my job was painful on my body, but this was a whole new level of pain…

And when you order wood, and tell them your stove can only handle pieces 12-14″ long, and you mostly use your woodstove for fun, you tend to be content just eyeballing the delivery, and saying, “yeah, that looks pretty good.”  But when your survival depends on it, and you discover that every 3rd piece is too long to fit in the stove, suddenly you wish you’d actually checked before accepting delivery…

Ditto on the tendency to be lax in protecting said wood.  When fire is just for pleasure, maybe you don’t regularly check to make sure the tarp covering it is in place.  But that’s one of the first things you notice when hauling wood for survival; wet wood doesn’t burn well…

Speaking of which…

Starting (and maintaining) a fire is not as easy as it seems, even with modern tools available.  It is a skill that must be learned, and a survival situation is not the best time to start learning how…

I received a quick how-to lesson before my roommate left Friday morning, and I thought to myself, “simple enough!”  It’s about the proper ratio of fuel, air and flame, she told me, and I, being a strong, intelligent, independent woman, thought I could figure it out; sure I might fail at first, but I learn quickly.  Usually…

But I failed to get the fire really going on Friday night, and finally had to give up and sleep, trusting my blankets and cat would keep me warm enough.  They did not.  Freezing, I had difficulty sleeping, and more difficulty getting up.  It was 40 degrees in my house (I will likely never complain again that 68 degrees is too cold…lol!)  Getting that fire going was essential to my survival.  So taking the lessons I learned the night before, I headed out for supplies and a hot meal before tackling it again.

This time I did get it going, and kept it going, and I felt a renewed sense of confidence and competence.  But after about 15 hours of a strong, steady fire, it was still only 46 degrees in my house.  I had thought that, once going, I could sit by the fire and relax.  Maybe meditate or something similar to take advantage of this down time…

But no…  I had to boil water for dishes and bathing, haul more wood, try and feed myself, and prepare for when darkness settled once again.  And when I did sit in front of the fire, I was fraught with worry every time it faltered.  Not exactly the relaxing time I expected.  And eventually I had to sleep, which meant trusting I could restart the fire on Sunday…

I woke on Sunday to a bed of hot coals, and the fire roared to life when I added fuel and air…  Then it faltered on the wet wood.  I would not succeed in getting the fire truly going again.  Period.  Not Sunday morning before work, nor Sunday night, nor Monday morning.  And, as the temperature in my house continued to drop, and the estimated time of restoration of power kept getting pushed back (until it passed the expected start time of the incoming blizzard), I genuinely started considering other survival plans…  It was no longer a joke or a vacation from the grid…

* Stubbornness is both a curse and a gift…

It was stubbornness that allowed me to haul wood when my body said “you can’t do this!”  It was stubbornness that allowed me to linger on, against hope, believing that I was not meant to die this way.  It was stubbornness that got me to actually use the bathroom when I could no longer hold out (because it was too cold to face), and stubbornness that allowed me to dress and undress.

It was also stubbornness that convinced me it was better to avoid eating and drinking, than to face those dreaded bathroom runs, which allowed me to weaken and become dehydrated.  It was stubbornness that kept me here in survival mode, rather than abandon my cat to seek shelter elsewhere; I abolutely refused to do so.  And it was stubbornness that cut me off from my loving “community,” as they became more vocal and vehement about my leaving the house.

Stubbornness is a double-edged sword…

Philosophy, politics, economics, even spiritual practices (like meditation, yoga, or going to church) have no place in survival mode, but the need to believe in some higher-order Other does…

As the situation developed from bad, to worse, to sometimes seeming hopeless, I found my interest in all things non-essential wavering, and finally dying off.  I no longer cared what Trump and his cronies were doing, or what new disasters were befalling the planet and its inhabitants.  I didn’t meditate, or remember my dreams; only focused on how unrested I felt, as the cold made sleeping difficult, and I desperately needed rest to continue.  I no longer worried about the long-term damage being done abroad, or who was responsible for it; I could only focus on the next thing I needed to do to survive, on what had to be done before the long night, and its bitter cold arrived…

And as my confidence in my own competency wavered, I found myself reaching out in prayer to elementals and the Universe, seeking help and strength to survive.  And it did help, much to my surprise.  Maybe these spiritual beings did not directly intervene, but the asking gave me the strength to carry on…

***  ***  ***

So I’m sitting here today, snuggled with my cat and multiple blankets with the heat working, yet still unable to feel warm.  I ache deeply, not just in the usual places, but in my shoulders, arms, hands and head; and I’m dealing with muscle cramping from dehydration, yet am still unwilling to drink a lot (lol!).  I am trying to take this momentary reprieve to consider what I’ve “learned” from being unplugged, and discovering that much of what drove me before still feels irrelevant.

I’m so far behind in emails and reading, not to mention catching up on others’ blogs and comments, but it doesn’t seem to motivate me.  Instead, I’m staring out the window, contemplating the increasing snow and wind, wondering what I need to do to prepare in case the power goes out again.  So laundry is going while it can.  And I’m trying to talk my way out of the pain I feel, knowing that the arduous task of shovelling out is looming…

And keeping my phone charged, of course…

And it occurs to me that survival trumps all other motivations, and renders everything outside my immediate world irrelevant.  And I wonder if all my sense of self – my confidence and independence, my compassion for others, my “enlightenment” and understanding of the world, even my ethics and morality – aren’t just distractions, “false flags,” perpetuated by my own ignorance of what truly matters.  For I have discovered that, as survival gains primacy in my life, all else falls to the wayside…

I think I may actually be “unplugged” now.   Dammit!  😀

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Essay, Reflections

On Sickness and Health…

Today I want to talk about health and healing.  I want to talk about sickness and disease.  I want to talk about living and dying.  And to do that, I want to briefly tell the stories of two very dear friends of mine…

On the one hand is M.  A non-smoker for probably 30 years or so, she nonetheless contracted lung cancer.  Being among the 98% of us, she did not have access to cutting edge, experimental cancer treatments that target only cancer cells, and so had to settle for traditional chemo and radiation treatments, which made her feel a lot sicker.  But she was a fighter, kept an incredibly positive outlook most of the time, and relied on faith, prayer and strength of will to see her through the process.

And she defeated the cancer three times!

But then one day, feeling off, she returned to the doctors to find her “numbers were off.”  After running diagnostic tests, they determined she was having, or might have a heart attack, so they put in a stint to prevent it.  She developed sepsis (a systemic infection), which the doctors eventually got under control.  But while in hospital, she also contracted pneumonia.  The antibiotics they gave her did not touch it, because, as the doctors said, her immune system was so compromised by the cancer treatments, that she couldn’t fight off the infection.

The decision was made to not pursue any other treatment, and two days later, she died.  From pneumonia, though all official claims were that she died from “complications arising from the cancer.”  Though certainly we all understand it was complications from the treatment of said cancer, as the cancer was gone…

When I tell that story, people nod their understanding, almost everyone I know having known someone who experienced the same tale.  We accept that; it’s “how it is,” however sad that might be…

Then there is R.  She has died, or nearly died multiple times, yet she keeps coming back.  And she continues to smoke occasionally.  Most recently, she went off in an ambulance believing she was having another heart attack (she also has a stint in place from a former attack).  Turns out, according to xrays and countless other expensive diagnostic equipment, that she had a collapsed lung instead, though the doctors could not say for certain why.  They thought she had pneumonia, and so treated her for that.  They also discovered a mass in her lung they thought cancerous…

Three days later they released her from the hospital with a boatload of medications, the most important of which (that is, the one that would allow her to breathe with only one lung functioning) was not covered by her excellent insurance for some reason.  They put her on oxygen 24/7, and set up further testing and follow-up to address the likely lung cancer.  That was on Sunday.

She struggled, reeling from the diagnosis, and the reality she might be on oxygen for the rest of her life.  She tried to stay mentally positive, but accepted she was physically helpless, unable to really care for herself.  She started considering end of life options.  She relied on others to “do” for her what she felt unable to do herself…

Tuesday she met with her primary doctor, discussing potential treatment options for the cancer, should it be confirmed as such.  Wednesday she had a follow-up xray in preparation for the scope and biopsy tests which would follow.  Thursday morning she told me something was terribly wrong; even with the oxygen, she couldn’t catch her breath.  She couldn’t decide if she should wait until her scheduled appointment at the hospital later that day, or call an ambulance to go in sooner.  She decided to wait…

When the doctor showed her the xray taken Wednesday, compared to the one taken when she’d first come in by ambulance, he was thrilled to tell her she was completely healed!  The lung was reinflated, the mass/spots on her lung were gone, and there was no pneumonia present.  He called it “spontaneous healing,” to which she responded, “we call it the power of prayer.”

These two women were only about 5 years apart in age.  Both dealt with cancer, heart attack, stint, and pneumonia.  Each dealt with it her own way; one fighting to the bitter end, one giving up with hardly a whimper.  Yet one died while the other lived.  These two cases intrigue me both in their similarities and in their differences.  I sense something for me to learn by looking at them side by side, since both women were important friends of mine, though neither knew the other…

My own experiences with the health care system have left me less than impressed.  I am appalled at their inability to diagnose even simple conditions, in spite of thousands of $’s spent on expensive equipment and tests.  My last encounter with them was in 2008-2009.  Almost two years of my life, and countless money wasted to get absolutely nowhere fast.  In summary, I went to the ER in 2008 when a stomach ache I’d had for weeks became unbearable.  Here’s what I was told:

  • Several doctors argued outside my ER cubicle over who should have the right to treat me first, as there were so many things wrong, requiring different specialists.
  • The surgeon told me I should already be dead, and likely soon would be, because he kept getting overridden in subsequent discussions.
  • I was released after 5 days, and a huge hospital bill with no medication, and a referral to my primary doctor.
  • I was able to work a day and a half, before I was back in the hospital for emergency surgery.  It was too late, as the damage was done.  I had peritonitis from a burst cyst.
  • I required 6 weeks for recovery from surgery that should only require 10 days.  When I informed my surgeon that green goop was leaking from my incisions, I was told that wasn’t right, but it could wait a few more days until my appointment.
  • When I told my endocrinologist, who happened to be director of a local diabetes clinic, that my pancreas was still inflamed, I was told that wasn’t his area of expertise.  For those who might not know, the pancreas is part of the endocrine system, and the primary producer of insulin in the body.  For this specialist to say it wasn’t his area of expertise was an insult to my intelligence, the medical profession, and his patients.  But when I fired him, no other endocrinologist would take up my case, claiming I was a difficult patient.
  • When the joint problems started, and the eye disease, and the medication they wanted to prescribe exacerbated other ongoing conditions, I was told I needed to get another job!  That was my prescription…

Needless to say, I haven’t been back since, and I am often criticized for that.  I am told that we must address the actual sicknesses within our bodies if we are to heal.  And that may be so.  But here’s my point:

My friend M acted as though she was well, because the doctors told her so, when the truth was that their treatments had made her very sick instead.  Meanwhile R acted sick even after she was healed, because the doctors told her so.  And today M is dead and R is trying to make peace with all she cannot do anymore.  And the doctors helped them how?

I have been wrestling with an earache for a couple days now; no doubt a simple infection.  But I refuse to seek treatment knowing that my earache will only give them permission to start labelling all my other health issues.  And I do not want to know.  I really don’t care these days about living forever; I would much rather die in peace.  And if I am truly as “sick” as doctors would have me believe, then sooner is likelier than later.

But I reason I can push my body, push myself, to live what time I have.  And when I cannot push it any farther, then my body itself will let me know.  So far that has not occurred, though it amazes me that I continue day after day, in spite of everything.

I’m sure the “proper” path winds somewhere between these three extremes, but moderation has never been my strong suit.  And today, anyway, I continue to breathe…

Though I might just shove a screwdriver in my ear if the buzzing and the pressure don’t relent soon!  😉

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Reflections

“Thoughts About Not Dying…”

Inspired by the recent writings of Sha’Tara

https://shatara46.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/thoughts-about-dying/

***

How would you feel if someone told you, or showed you, that you could not die?  If someone pointed out to you that Death himself had died, and this life was all you had?

Would you take the common sense approach and start living healthier in order to preserve this body of yours?  Or would you challenge those nay-sayers by living dangerously?

I know that personally, I have challenged Death, refusing to accept this life sentence, taunted him, tried to piss him off on multiple occasions, all in the futile hope or expectation that He would react by claiming me.  But he has not done so yet.  In fact, his door seems more barred to me than ever.  We continue to dance the dance of life and death, yet he manages always to avoid me.  Which makes me wonder…

Is it truly the fear of death that motivates us in life, or the fear of non-death?

Imagine, if you will, an immortality of flesh; not one based on the immortality of spirit (whether that be experienced as an afterlife or through multiple incarnations), or the unnatural, superhuman immortality of mythical figures who never age, and who heal quickly from whatever damage they incur.  No, I’m talking about flesh that can be weakened, harmed, and maimed, complete with its concurrent suffering, but which cannot be escaped.  How would that change things for you?

I realize, as I ponder these questions, that fear plays a much larger role than it otherwise would, were death an option for me.  Because suffering is something I’d like to avoid…

I am much less likely to challenge authority because I fear torture and maiming.  I actually have nightmares about such things!  I am also much less likely to stand out in a crowd, as anonymity may be my only shield…

And surrender, as a concept and a practice, becomes a much more intimate partner on this journey of mine.  I have so often found myself “sick and tired of being sick and tired” (a recovery motto), that I cease fighting completely, allowing things to simply develop around me.

Sometimes surrender works for me, as I stop trying to control all that surrounds me, and simply let it be.  Other times it feels like a cop-out, just giving up when things are tough.  Either way, it is a non-productive path, and it explains so much “wasted” time for me…

Trust me, I hold none of this in high regard; there is nothing respectable about this path for me.  I see nothing noble or empowering or inspiring in these words I write today.  Only honesty; and that I feel in spades today.

And no, I am not bashing my self today.  I recognize my motives, and I own my choices.  But it is nonetheless disheartening to see how much of this life of mine has revolved around the fear of non-death.  For if there is no escape from this flesh of suffering, then what hope can there truly be?

***

An endless road ahead of me,

an endless road behind.  

And nothing here beside me,

or within me,

to justify (or mitigate) such time-

-lessness…  

Eternity…  

A curse?  

Or a promise?  

Which shall it be?  

I think that if Death continues to elude me,

perhaps I will just murder Time…

Guilt free,

endlessly,

killing time

while being me…

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