For about 2 weeks last month it looked like I possibly had cancer.
Turns out I don’t, so NO WORRIES. (a little extra emphasis there just in case you’re inclined to waste a good worry on me. No need, I promise.)
Perhaps this will sound strange but in those couple of weeks, I was oddly unafraid.
‘Course, certain of my family and friends were hyperventilating, so maybe they had my share of the panic pie covered, leaving me to be calm just for balance in the universe.
It certainly wasn’t always like this for me. In my 20s I'd anxiously check for illness despite actual ridiculously good health. Or I’d wake at night in terror of death when an ambulance or fire truck siren went by (which, since I lived in New York City, was often.) And airplane flying used to be the kind of adventure where the slightest sign of turbulence was clearly the start of a painful, miserable death, in my feverish little mind.
And yet here I was with a real possibility of cancer, and… nothing.
This calm wasn’t the kind of nihilistic not-caring-if-I-live-or-die stuff I see floating around Facebook or with clients sometimes. At this point I enjoy living as much as the next guy. Although again that wasn’t always the case; I spent much of my earlier life with suicide comfortingly tucked in my back pocket for just in case.
Isn’t that funny? I was terrified of death that might be imposed on me by illness or fire or airplane gods. But death at my own hand spelled comfort.
“Nooooo, don’t make me see where I might be powerless, helpless or not the ruler of all I survey. No, show me instead how I have absolute power over life and death.”
Yeah, not deluded at ALL.
So how to account for the change in Judy-attitude? I mean, I’m a lot older now, statistically much closer to the potential reality of death. Shouldn’t I be morefreaked out, not less?
Well who knows for sure why, but looking back over the last decade or so, it appears that seeing the power of powerlessness... changes things. There’s such huge relief and such soaring beauty in surrendering to the truth of not being in charge, that fears of lack of control just... melt.
Experiencing that I have zero power over absolutely anything- not breath or heartbeat or body temperature or health and certainly not over death- (not to mention other people and situations) set me free of a lot of that fear I lugged around most of my life.
Which left the opportunity to enjoy life’s ride, however long it lasts, without having to be the boss of it.
There’s also been the blind luck and immense gratitude of personally experiencing, over and over again, that this body-thingy is simply not what I am, that what I am is not biological, not meat, and not a physical thing, which not only can’t die, but… can’t go anywhere.
I mean, it’s everywhere. Where would it go that it isn’t already?
So I'm no longer afraid of leaving, being gone, not being here.
Yes the body dies. It dies at all kinds of times from all kinds of things. And yes the ego or personality likes to stomp around crying, “But I don’t wannnnna die. I don’t wannna hurt or be sick. I don’t wannnna not be here anymore.”
And still it’s been so repeatedly clear that none of that has anything to do with what I am.
If this sounds like pie-in-the-sky BS spirituality, I do get that. And of course you don’t have to ever take my word for anything.
On the other hand, just for fun, we can play a little with this right now, if you’re up for it…
If you close your eyes and get still for a moment, you can begin to notice that your breath and hearing are effortlessly supporting you, and have been, all along. And then feel into whatever it is you really are. Don’t bother trying to define or name that- we could call it consciousness or awareness or god or essence or Ralph - but naming it is a hindrance, not a help. Just feel into it as best you can; however you do that is perfect.
And then you can ask “what I really am” a question, and listen for a prompt very quiet answer. There’s no need to know anything or figure out what is answering or agree with what it says. You're just asking the truest you, the real you whatever that is… if its name is (your name).
And listen for a yes or a no.
I’ve yet to find anyone who gets a “yes” answer.
You’re not (your name). There’s nothing wrong with (your name), in fact (your name) is pretty darned dear with all its dreams and likes and imperfections. It’s just not what you are.
(Your name) can be foolish or ferocious or not loving or weak or angry or deficient. And what-I-really-am?
It just says yes.
And knowing now that the mind focuses on the small (Judy), on her pain and likes and dislikes, and misses the bigger, vaster truth….
Well, whatever that is, it’s calm. And not afraid of no stinkin’ cancer.
I’m not telling you this because it’s what you’re supposed to experience. I’m just sharing with you, because it’s a kind of shaking-the-head wow. And it’s lovely to have company with so much wow.
So Judy’s still here, cancer-free. Who knows for how long. You're still here too.
We may as well have some fun with this gift, no?