Sunday, September 2, 2012

The reason you have to face death

Portland - a survivalist supply store
next to an excellent Lebanese restaurant.
Also a 'Historic District' street sign
The reason you have to face death is that the only alternative is to live locked down by fear.

If you have cancer and you're fighting it, and you're thinking, I just can't die. I'm not going to die. Dying is not an option, NO! Then you have to live in fear of something you cannot control. You have to hide. You have to pretend that what is real is unreal. You have to act like you have a choice, that choosing life is an absolute choice. It's true that we can choose life, but that choice is simply an openness.

Cancer is not only part of life, cancer is its own life. A friend wrote to me recently:
I'm taking a therapeutic yoga training and am hearing all sorts of wonderful and miraculous healing stories, in addition to practicing the tools. I heard one today that reminded me of you when you talked about 'not wanting to fight your body' -- an older woman with cancer had a little talk with her cancer on a regular basis. She told it that she had no problem coexisting with it, but it was simply too big, and if it took over and she died, then it would die, too, and that wouldn't help anyone. So she regularly asked to shrink, and you know the punch line! She's alive and well years later, with no chemo, just regular check ups to see that tumors are staying very small!
Sculpture in Bellevue
I like this approach. (It's also true that her talks with cancer did not necessarily cause her recovery.)

Life and death can't be denied or affirmed separately.

So if life is OK, death is OK...Not for someone else, for oneself. Of course I'm glad my friends and family do not want me to die! But none of us has a choice either. It's life's choice. We can influence life. It's all about the difference between control and influence. I constantly mistake one for the other.

And trace it all, or much of it, back to not wanting to die. Social death. Losing everything, wanting to hold on. Everything we want: love, power, agency, prestige, talent, money, stability or excitement. Symbols we use to control life...

Why shouldn't everything that is horrible also be interesting?

I'm in Seattle now, actually Bellevue, Washington state. I wasn't so bad driving here (about 15 hours) but of course I can't sleep. 1:30am. My feet are much more numb than last time..up to maybe around 40% from 10 or 20%. I've almost fallen down two different sets of stairs, my own and the BART stairs. I'm a bit worried about what's going to happen as this increases with my next two treatments.

Across the street from Misha's, I saw two little mice lying on their sides on a piece of paper on the pavement. How'd they get on the paper?* One of them was dead, the other was on the way. When I took this photograph, the live one convulsed more. I thought about moving this paper with these poor mice on it so they could die or be dead somewhere better than the curb, but it seemed that might disturb them more so I left them. So I thought, in spite of what I wrote above, death is awful. At least from the outside. I suppose from the point of view of the dead, being covered for example with blood or shit or lying on a curb is of no concern. The time for concern about dignity or appearance is over.
Because of the sores in his mouth,
the great poet struggles with a dumpling.
His work has enlarged the world
but the world is about to stop including him.
He is the tower the world runs out of.
(Dean Young, "Elegy on Toy Piano")

*The piece of paper with the mice said 'Catchmaster' on it. I looked it up and it said, "Manufacturers of adhesive pest control products."

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