Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A NEAR-LIFE EXPERIENCE

Me, and My Life :)
photo from the internet
Sometimes it feels like I'm having a near-life experience:)
My life has had so many challenges that, at some point, it all became hilarious. I am hard pressed to list any one obstacle. First I'd have to decide "which week?" A sense of humor has greased my wheels. All the women in my family cackle. So much so that my great-grandson learned to cackle as an infant. From his carseat in the back seat, he would punctuate our conversation with "blah-blah-blah", followed by a wicked cackle, cracking us right up.
Rather than "oh, no, this is WAY too hard!" I learned to say, like Ram Dass, "What an INteresting Curriculum About Challenge!"
Life has always expected a lot from me. If you resist the lesson, it comes back to you. And it keeps coming back until you get it right. I am a slow learner. I have repeated the lessons, been "kept back", finally grudgingly admitted to the next grade.
I overcame my childhood by loving my children. I mothered them as I had wanted to be mothered and, while I managed to make mistakes that I still hear about, I gave it everything I had.
A sense of wonder has accompanied me all the way along. When my store on the ocean in Sechelt was lost by fire, we were left with no livelihood, owning only the clothing on our backs. We moved into my mother's attic, my fourth child was born, and we went on welfare.
"How can you be so unaffected?" my mother asked. "You've just lost everything you had."
"But we're all still alive," I replied. "And everything I love most is free." My children, the world, the blue sky, trees, sunshine, literature and music, hope and possibility: all abounded. Out of this generous smorgasbord of raw materials, we started our new life.
The blue sky has gotten me through it all. I have been a skywatcher forever and never met a sky I didnt love.
A sense of peace rides in my breast pocket. My lifelong quest for a peaceful life bore fruit. I stripped away everything that wasnt peaceful and voila! Aside from some very vocal dogs, I have an utterly peaceful life. A Peace rock sits by my front gate, warning: Abandon chaos, all who enter here:)
My current challenge is chronic health problems and financial struggle. I finally made a home in my little trailer out Beaver Creek, and the land under it went up for sale. At first I was in a panic. I owe the bank for it, it cant be moved, what will happen? Then I decided to simply release the struggle, and let the river carry me to where I am supposed to be. At other times in my life, I have had to do big trusting, and the universe took care of me. I have to believe it will again. On the other side of this uncertainty can be....something great! I hear the message now in Change: it is time to move on, for the further development of my soul. I have become too placid here.
A quote from Wendell Berry shines the way:
It may be that when we
no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work,
and when we no longer know
which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
I have to remember "There is a landscape larger than the one we see." When you look through a small window, the vista may be bleak. But if you go outside and gaze at the whole sky, there is usually a break on the horizon. Often there are rainbows. I once sold whale tour tickets to a boatload of people when the sky was black and lowering. "See that patch of blue over there?" I pointed. "In an hour, it could cover the whole sky." And, amazingly, in an hour it did!
Medicine man J.C.Lucas of the Nuu chah nulth nation, once said to me, "Your greatest pain is your strongest medicine." All my life, I've been drawn to stories of people transcending difficult circumstances with grace. My heroes include Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy and John Lennon. (I try to ignore the fact that all but one were assassinated.) The author of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is my hero. Jean-Dominique Bauby was at the top of his game at 42, editor of Elle magazine in Paris, when he was felled by a stroke. When he returned to consciousness, he could move only one muscle in his body, his left eyelid. With that eyelid, he and his aides devised a means of communicating on an alphabet board. They recited the letters repeatedly and when they hit the right letter, he blinked. In this fashion, letter by letter, he dictated an entire book! He explained the diving bell in the title was this body he was now entombed in, the butterfly was his spirit.
If he can do that, how can I complain about anything??!! Complain about writer's block? I dont think so!
These stories act as beacons that keep me pointed in the direction of hope. They show me the impossible is not impossible - it just may take a little longer.
Some days the advanced curriculum about challenge feels a little wearying, in this, my sixth decade. Shouldnt I have passed to the next class already?
But then I reflect on where the next class might be located, and decide I'll happily settle for repeat lessons if it keeps my feet on this beautiful planet, with more time to walk around, head tilted back and grinning at the sky.

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