(Reprinted from January, 2010) There have been a few folks recently who have been involved in either deaths of those close to them or in scrapes with death themselves. With that in mind, I had a reader ask for these 3 posts to be reposted for any newer readers in hopes there are some concepts or tools that might be useful. So, here they are…(this is part 2 of 3).
It’s funny, when it comes to MAJOR belief changes, at least for me; it becomes hard to distinguish the “chicken from the egg”. When beliefs finally change, no matter how long I have been working on something, it happens in an instant, so fast that it can be hard to tell which was first: for me that would be that I “decided” that my life had meaning, just as it was. That there was nothing I needed to DO to make it so. That there was nothing “wrong” with me just as I was, even if there were (and ARE) things that I wanted to change. That it was okay to Love this person utterly and completely, even if he had not “produced” anything. And all of those changing beliefs, all of that letting myself off the hook for who I was NOT gave me the most gentle, silent, delicious moment of my life. All those voices that used to run around in my head and tell me how much I’d screwed up that day, week, year, or life SHUT OFF. All the ones who loudly cautioned me about what terrible things could or would happen tomorrow or this year, or belittled me about all the things I would NEVER HAVE, like romantic love or a career doing something I love, or an end to the panic attacks…they CEASED. And in that sweet, clear silence I understood my reason for being here–and achieved it, all in a single moment. That my purpose, my primary one, was to have just one moment where I could love and accept myself totally and completely, the way that I imagine God loves and accepts me. Mmmmmmm………..
And after that all the pressure was off. As I’ve noted before, this whole process happened over the course of a workshop at The Option Institute called The Happiness Option (http://www.option.org/programs:the-happiness-option,6 ). Funny, to copy that link, I went to the program page and there is a quote from my wonderful friend Paisley, who was in the SAME Happiness Option class as I was–both of us were from California, and both of us eventually moved to New England, something neither one of us would EVER have conceived of at that time!
So, of course, as I’ve mentioned many times, I’ve never had a panic attack since then (May, 2005) after having them pretty much every day, all day for 19+ years. I’ve done so many things I never thought I would, could never even conceive of in fact, am in the greatest, most wonderful, effortless love relationship ever, and continue to fearlessly pursue the career of my dreams. I walk in graveyards–love them in fact–with such a sense of comfort and grace and marvel at the thoughts of these lives, now passed, and how much they meant in the moments of their owners. I’m quite comfortable with dying, content to enjoy each moment of thought and consciousness for its own sake, not as something to be held onto past its time. In fact, I literally had a moment where I was out in a snowstorm (in a graveyard no less), and it was so beautiful and peaceful as I sat out in the lee side of a big tree, that I considered just staying there and having that be my last moment–I felt quite comfortable that I didn’t need to be on earth for anything else, but as I sat there contemplating, I decided that I still wanted to stay so that I could learn and experience as much as I could here, AND that if I died there, in that wonderfully peaceful moment, I wrote in my journal that I “wouldn’t be there for the love of my life to FIND ME”. Mary and I both find it strange that I worded it that way, since my quest for the ultimate love relationship has always been MY search! The fact that I worded it that she would find me seems strangely prophetic, since Mary did, in fact, FIND ME.
It’s the weirdest thing to go 180 degrees on this: from someone petrified of the thought of death to someone who lovingly embraces it so much and enjoys the payoff of that by being able to simply BE with someone, even if they are dying, or contemplating suicide.
I RARELY meet people who see death the way I do, not as something to judge or fear, but simply another moment, another experience as a part of LIFE. I saw this on CNN.com today and that’s what sparked this particular blog, because, as expressed, I have an unlikely kin in how I view death in the person of Jeff Probst, yep, the host of “Survivor”. His quote is in regard to the recent death of a former participant, Jennifer Lyon, who died of cancer at the age of 37:
“If I learned anything from Jenn it is this: Don’t be afraid to ask someone how they are truly feeling about dying,” Probst says. “Don’t shy away from the scary parts of death. They need someone to talk to about what is going on inside their head. Most importantly, encourage them to let go of the expectations of others and give them permission to do what is right for them, even if it means letting go.”