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OTHER ITA SITES:
Life's Precious Moments
Learning to fully live during tough times...
"Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ken’s asleep now. It’s been a big couple of days. Seems like a life time has come and gone; perhaps it has. Surgery for the new melanoma was Wednesday morning—early. Ten hours later, it was over. Four hours later he was out of recovery and into the next phase of life, learning to survive cancer. My work with the men at the Oregon State Correctional Institution gave me gave me an appreciation for freedom. Ken’s rollercoaster ride with cancer has given me a whole new appreciation for life and a deep understanding of the preciousness of each of life’s moments.
I know now why people close down and create walls around themselves for protection. Being open is painful when what is present is filled with sadness and suffering, but that is my commitment, to not close down in any way so here I sit wide open, allowing it all to be what it is, without story, without running or hiding. The love of everyone is so present here too. One would miss that if they closed down. You have to accept it all, to remain open to it all, or you miss the joy inherent in the sorrow, you miss the deep connection that lies amidst the pain.
The natural instinct of self-preservation creates walls easily, automatically, lending itself well to fight or flight, and misses the opportunity of being present. It would be nice if we could partition off the good from the bad and experience only happiness and joy, but we can’t. When we partition off the unacceptable, we partition ourselves off from life. We build walls that prevent us from experiencing all of life. Rather than experiencing life, being truly alive, we unconsciously tone down our experience to one we deem more acceptable. Unfortunately what we get is a mental experience rather than the entire experience, one that leaves us feeling disconnected and lost.
"Every life has dark tracts and long stretches of somber tint, and no representation is true to fact which dips its pencil only in light, and flings no shadows on the canvas." Alexander Maclaren
A picture is worth a thousand words, so let me draw one. When we build a wall, it is as if we create a shell around ourselves. Consider yourself an egg inside an egg shell. Without the shell the egg slides all over the place…including into the frying pan…erase that…good for a picture but the analogy, while accurate, will most likely add more fear rather than opening an opportunity to shed it.
Let’s try again with a trip down memory lane. Back in 1976 John Travolta starred in a movie called, “Boy in the Plastic Bubble”, a film about a boy who was forced to live in a plastic isolation chamber because he was born with a non-functioning immune system, leaving him vulnerable to even the most common everyday viruses. The bubble is a great analogy for what we do to ourselves when we say ‘no’ to any aspect of our lives. In “The Grand Experiment” we call it the crystalline shell. Rather than being forced to live inside the bubble, though, we choose it, believing it to be safer than this painful experience of life. The virus we are vulnerable to is fear. When something good comes along, we don’t drop the layers and step free of the bubble. If we did that, the painful energy might find us, so instead, we engage life, the good and the bad from inside the bubble.
None of this is conscious, and though it may sound contradictory, it is a choice. It becomes a choice when we realize what is happening. At that point, we choose either to stay safely inside the bubble or choose to crack it, dissolve it, dismantle it…whatever it takes to live freely. Even knowing, we may continue to choose what appears to be safety, at least until the pain of being ensconced within the bubble exceeds the pain we perceive to be on the outside. In the movie, John Travolta’s character fell in love with the girl next door. He decided that life on the outside, even if it meant his death, was better than a long, safe life, disconnected from the ability to fully love—a true coming of age story.
Coming of age…what does that mean? It usually means growing up and entering into adulthood. Consider using it to mean growing into a true human, into our humanity, into our full compassion, fully aware of what it means to be human and that includes the good and the bad, the suffering and the pain. We are not meant to find the golden bucket at the end of the rainbow. There is no prince on a white horse. We cannot and should not choose only the apparent good in life. If we do we miss out on life…messy life…complex life…real life. We miss out on the ability to engage life. We miss out on the ability to live life fully present—present and accounted for! We look through the bubble and wonder why it feels as if we are missing out on something, why we feel so disconnected, why life just doesn’t satisfy. Inside the bubble we have the appearance of safety, but it is killing us slowly, roasting us one dream at a time. Outside is painful. Outside is joyful. Outside is all full! Outside is life. Inside is mind’s version, mind’s game, mind’s diversion from life.
Live now. None of us know how long we have here or how long the people we love will be with us. These moments are precious. They are God’s gift to each of us when we choose to fully experience life. Hell is inside the bubble of mind’s making. Heaven is filled with sorrow and suffering, joy and ecstatic, full-on living and it is here, outside the bubble. Come out and play.
"Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me." Albert Schweitzer
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