I suspect I may be literally dying to live.
My friend and spiritual companion Raphael Cushnir wrote a stunning book several years ago entitled SETTING YOUR HEART ON FIRE. The book contains seven invitations that entice the reader to engage more fully with the heart space and so with life. The fourth invitation is “Live like you are dying.” Far from being as morose as it may sound to some, this invitation beckons us to a more authentic and actualized human experience. It invites us to be more conscious within the present moment. It asks us to evaluate our values, and how aligned we are with them. It holds a mirror up to us, and invokes within us the courageous decision to look squarely at them. Resistance and numbing are investigated, and the possibility is entertained that when we live as if we are dying we are actually and literally more alive than ever before.
I read and deeply enjoyed this book several years ago. The invitations have risen in my awareness countless times, and they have informed more moments than I could ever guesstimate. And the fourth invitation in particular has come more fully alive in me since I have come face to face with the possibility of actually dying.
This coming Friday a surgeon and a team of medical personnel will handle the technical aspects of my letting go of the dance I have been doing with cancer. I have been advised and can readily accept the fact that, as I will be henceforth monitored on a regular basis, I will now have an ongoing relationship with this disease that so often causes such fear and suffering in people the world over. I must say to you my readers that it truly hasn't been that for me. It has been unpleasant and uncomfortable at times. But I have not resided in an atmosphere of intense fear since my diagnosis. I have not experienced prolonged resistance to it, so it has not created an internal sense of suffering. My choice to accept and fully embrace the temporal reality of the condition has resulted in many insights and epiphanies, and it has been far more friend than foe. I will continue to dance with this partner known as cancer, but I will not let it lead. I am more awake and alive since this dance began, so I am filled with much more appreciation than I am angst. To live like I am dying isn't resignation. It is a reminder that every day of physicality is a gift to be relished. It is a juice to be sipped and even gulped. The appeal of suppression and numbing is gone as I bring a more passionate attention to every single aspect of this wild and wondrous human experience.
I have every expectation that the surgery will successfully address the immediate physical challenge, and that the prayer support with which I am surrounded will activate the genius both in the medical team and in my body temple. I anticipate many more years upon this planet, and I know that I will be far more alive during the ensuing years as a result of staring disease and death right in the not-so-scary face. I know that from here on out I will spend my moments and my days living like I am dying. I believe that the adoption and activation of that perspective is a major part of the gift that this experience has come to give to me. I have long sought to be more radically and radiantly alive in my body and in my moments, and if it takes a brush with death to ignite that, so be it. I have been dying to be more and more alive, and I guess that got reflected in a way I couldn't miss.
I have lately pondered more intensely the gifts and the message that I came here to give to the world. I want to be completely used up when the time comes to leave this earth. This contemplation reminded me of an exercise that I gave to a workshop in the not so distant past. The assignment was to intuit and to write a seven word autobiography. As I always complete before hand everything that I ask others to do, I relished watching the felt-dawning of a new perspective as it rose instantaneously in my awareness. “AND YET HE CHOSE TO GIVE LOVE.”
And yet he chose to give love. Yep. That’s it. After all the trauma, struggle, abuse, addiction, loss, darkness, pullback, fear, pain, and disease, I still am choosing to give my love. I am here in service of love. Let me be clear that giving love has led me to face deeply ingrained primal fears and grievous emotional imprints. Giving love has forced me to face and cross the boundaries of my comfort zones and the barriers of my woundedness. Giving love has been counter-intuitive and continually frightening. And yet I choose to give love. And yet I choose to live like I am dying, and to drink deeply of the well of this human experience with every moment that I have left. I don’t want to miss one bit of this exhilarating and often exasperating life. And someday, when it really is time to exhale back into infinity, I pray that those who may remember me will say “and yet he chose to give love.”
And now I go about the business of living like I am dying, and choosing in each moment to give the Love I am.