I would like to talk briefly about how fragile we are and how vulnerable that makes us. We don’t have long on planet earth, a few decades if we are lucky, and then we are gone again into the eternal unknown. The majority of people kind of like it here, despite all the terrible things that happen, and all the suffering, the personal and global difficulties and the struggle just to live. We get used to it, we build relationships, we have family, loved ones, and attachments. That’s the nature of life.
And we expect that to last for at least 70 years, and maybe more. That’s not too much to ask, we think.
And then illness may come along and throw that idea under the bus. We might be 30, or 50, or (god forbid) even younger. In truth, in many ways, it doesn’t matter what age we are (except for the very young, and that’s an utter tragedy I can’t address here), it’s always going to be too soon, and it’s always going to mean the arrival of very deep emotions. That is to be fully expected.
It’s going to herald the arrival of fear, and enormous vulnerability. Some of the depth of feeling will of course depend on the severity of the illness, but in my experience many of these mystery chronic illness’s trigger these fears BECAUSE they are completely unknown.
Illness knocks us sideways, and it catches many completely off guard. There is a totally new reality that arrives, a new context for everything. The truth arrives suddenly, we can call it impermanence. The facts of impermanence affect each one of us, no exceptions, but for those who are hit with illness, or even live in the unknown, this impermanence becomes a new reality. It changes everything.
For the spouses, partners, relations, children etc, it is very hard. I know this only too well in my relationship. This marriage with Amoda my wife is our entire world. Neither of us have much family, we have no children, and we came to America and gave up whatever little we had in the UK. This is it, and we are in the boat together. To be ill triggers such a vulnerability, even guilt and sorrow. And it hits her very hard, destabilizing plans and possibilities.
But life is like this. Life is sudden and dramatic. It is disappointing and distressing. And it is impermanent. Life doesn’t play by our rules. It is unconcerned with what we want to happen and when. And the stark truth of illness bursts our illusions, sometimes dramatically and usually distressingly.
The key to making it easier, if there is one, is to know this and to embrace it. In all my years of being ill, and walking the path of transformation, embracing the vulnerability, the let down, the heartache, the fear, anger and pain, the only way I have found is through love’s acceptance. I know that might sound new agey and trite, but when you are sick and suffering, such things begin to mean something real. Sarcasm and cynicism are the stronghold of the defensive ego that lives and dies in the matrix. They don’t make for good companions when the chips are down and we need to get real and intimate.
Consciously embracing the vulnerability might not change anything, it might not get rid of the fear, or anger, or heal the body, or cure you, but it will open the door to a deeper acceptance of reality. That is the best we can do, and it’s the best gift we can give others. Everyone has to face the same thing. I have not met anyone who hasn’t had dreams shattered or had to face deep disappointment and heartache. It’s in everyone. And everyone will have to meet death.
But the difference between those who turn and face themselves openly and those who turn away in fear or blame, those who become bitter and twisted, is the difference between heaven and hell.
I am one who is bold and brave enough to turn and face the truth, even though it hurts like hell. I am not writing this because I have received some dreadful news, don’t worry. I do have some strange symptoms going on in my gut that I would like resolved and it’s creating a lot of discomfort and uncertainty, and we are in the US which means access to some health care stuff is more difficult (like getting a colonoscopy), but its more that it’s triggered my own sensitivity and vulnerability, and I thought I would share my insights with you.
I hope you are well, and if not I hope this brought you some solace and comfort. Maybe that’s the best we can do for each other.