Today I listened to the Podcast 10% Happier with Dan Harris. This episode #218 is titled, “The Profound Upside of Our Mortality,” and I found it soothing on so many levels. And for anyone who wonders, it is not a morbid podcast.
It has been my goal to be as present in every moment as is possible. When I was a hospice volunteer, it was one of the most important things in my life because I knew every moment of our life is important so why would people on their deathbed be less important? Because if they are breathing, they are doing life. Being involved in hospice work was my happy place and exactly where I wanted to spend as much of the rest of my life as I possibly could. Who knew I was getting ready to learn about hospice from the inside? A bit of tongue-in-cheek, because I am not ‘expected’ to die in 6 months. I have learned about relying on others because of failing systems in, or components of, this body.
There are more everyday choices than I want to count which I have given up. Acceptance enough to release what people call ‘my autonomy’ has gone through many phases. I go through periods of mourning, which is potent at times, yet I’ve learned that sorrow for watching myself disappear feels pathetic after a day or a week (depending on how invested in, or identified with, the thing being taken over by MS). The gastroparesis is fed by quite the underground river of sorrow and is a constant reminder of how fragile our humanity is. Yet our humanity is fragile. Still, I have a new normal to attend and being real, gentle and kind about the new normal is essential for my life happiness. And I am still alive. Why would I practice a perspective that will hold me captive with misery? So, I take in new style of food with open arms and watch this underground river of sorrow for this loss with respect for the part of my existence for losing this part of what I used to call self. I also learn to live in my ever shifting reality and let the underground river be my background music. Good thing I adore dissonant music.
But I am still the human called Kalah. So, the idea of what or who myself is, is now a function of my choices, perhaps. Something to consider.
Life is funny and irreverent and surprising. I recommend looking with a brave heart and a wide-open mind. My new life motto to relax my hold on the outcome of everything I’m able to loosen my grip on: “YeeHaw motherfucker! What’s next?” (After which I use the smiling emoji with a cowboy hat.)
It also helps to check my narrative in effort to let be what is. I recommend Brene Brown’s Netflix show. The word Brave is in the title. (Crummy deal to throw a recommendation without the link, yet this blog and my use of time for the blog is evolving. And I vowed to make as many blunders as I can because fear of being inaccurate or wrong has kept me from putting my thoughts anywhere others could see them. Something in me shouts to write and make a mess of it doing so.)
My intention is to stay with all the experiences, even the pain. And the way to do that is something I learned from Pema Chodron, a Tibetan Buddhist nun. The concept is not hers, but the delivery made a lot of sense to me, which is: Consider this discomfort or these feelings as you would a wild horse in a small pen. The way to get it to settle down is to move it to a more open setting. It’ll settle soon.
The night wins and I must go to bed. But just so you know, my goal is to continue to syay with the pain, and instead of my lifetime habit of constricting around it, to turn toward it with respect and give it room. It could be my last breath and every moment counts. Like Dan Harris’s guest said, “everyone is successful at dying.”