"Rise, awaken, seek the wise and realize. The path is difficult to cross like the sharpened edge of the razor, so say the wise." Katha Upanishads, verse 1.3.14
SURPRISED TO HAVE MADE IT TO SIXTY-SEVEN
In 1999, I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and given two years to live. (No, I have never smoked in my life.) Thanks to the boundless patience and kindness of my son and the compassion and good offices of an extraordinary medical team, I'm still here, sometimes home-bound and always bound to toting an oxygen tank. These complications don't keep me from enjoying the CitySon Philosopher, my beautiful, smart, fab and funny daughter-in-law, and the friendship of many including my friends from our Group for people with life-threatening illnesses, my neighbors, the members of our spiritual congregation/social justice network and my arts community of poets, writers, artists, musicians and bloggers.
Regarding the latter, I hold Jingle Yanqui (no longer online) most especially in heart. Her vision for forming a cohesive and supportive online poetry community has facilitated a network of poets I could not have hoped to manage on my own. It makes up for being unable to take part in off-line poetry readings and groups.
Without a doubt, I cherish the friendships and shared values among The BeZine core team members and guest contributors. They rock ... and they're helping to rock the world into peace.
Celebrating poetry, prose, music and art with you through your books and blogs numbers among my most treasured gifts. Thank you for your honesty, for sharing your wisdom, your joys and sorrows, your laughter and pain and very human folly, your faith and despair, the rough knobby wool of the human condition. As my workload and commitments have expanded over the years and my disease progresses, I don't get to visit as often as I like ... but I do peek in on you and you continue to endear yourselves to me.
LESSONS FROM THE SHARPENED EDGE OF THE RAZOR
Over the past few days, I have been thinking about life lessons learned from years of living - as you do too - on the razor's edge:
- We are not meant to compare ourselves with others. Our beauty is absolute, not relative.
- Freedom is a state of mind. It requires a recognition of Madison Avenue values and programming and a disconnect from them and from any other received values that are not consistent with our own inner truth.
- Committing art is spiritual practice.
- We are meant to immerse ourselves in beauty: family, friends, flowers, music, poetry ...
- As long as we live on this earth, we have to make a living, but we were not meant to be wage-slaves. Find the balance between making a living with making a life.
- Health is a relative thing: We will always be more-or-less healthy. We may have to modify our activities because of health challenges and/or aging, but as long as we're alive, there's no reason not to stay engaged.
- When we receive a terminal diagnosis, it takes time to process and to deal with the shock. Eventually we find our way to peace and continue our lives, albeit within the limits of disability. The terminus - as you can see from my experience - may be a long way off.
- The only difference between people who are living with a terminal diagnosis and those who are not is that the former are no longer in denial.
- Don't turn good time into bad by worrying about what is an inevitable part of life. There comes a point when we accept that things are just the way they should be even though we don't understand the whys and hows.
- As long as we insist on identifying with the painful experiences of our lives, with the insults received at the hands of others, we feel desolate and somehow less. The order of the day is reframe and reinvent. The need is to rewrite our stories.
- People who are at peace with themselves are never cruel. If someone hurts or has hurt us, it's because of their own pain.
- Best policy: let go, trust yourself and get on with life.
- Consciousness is not the mind attached to the brain. It is a Light independent of the physical. We may not always have form or human personality but we have always been and we always will be. The challenge is to be a worthy spark of Being.
- Love - true love - is not romantic love. Love is found by seeing the reflection of Being in ourselves and all life. It is the ability to recognize the sacred everywhere and in everyone, even in our frail and fallible selves, in the most unfortunate conditions and the most unfortunate people.
May every day be a rebirth for you in the light of Love.
Metta - the Buddhist practice of holding self and others in loving kindness, a value shared by the world's religions.
2017, words and photographs, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day) All rights reserved. Family photographs are under copyright. Please be respectful. The Om illustration is in the public domain.