Close to the Bone II: Advocating for the “And”
Several friends have remarked about my recent health experience saying, “Graham, you could have died…. You could have collapsed in a heap in your office…. That has to impact you.” Obviously, I was unknowingly facing death. Any one of those hundred times I felt acute chest pain and did not relate it to my heart could have killed me. I particularly remember an experience on a holiday evening moving cars in the driveway as people were preparing to leave. I came inside with the worst chest pain I have ever experienced and I simply sat quietly in a corner resting my body until the pain passed saying nothing about it. I did not want to disturb such a pleasant evening. As I write this I am shocked and horrified at my behavior. It is scary to think what I almost did to myself. I don’t like seeing it or acknowledging it in a public forum. Yet acknowledgement is the only path through this.
I wonder about the extent to which I was not only encountering death but embracing it. It looks like I was asking for it at some deeply unconscious level. As I write and reflect on this I literally shudder. Nothing in my conscious mind asks to die AND it is scary to think of the deeper shadow level of the unconscious that appears to do exactly that. For the time being it appears that I get to walk away or more accurately walk not away but through this in both fear AND awe that I am still here. Whichever direction I move in, I get to keep walking. The fear is that I almost sabotaged myself. The awe is that I’m still walking. I need and insist upon both.
Others who have written about facing death often focus on newfound vitality and clarity about priorities, goals and plans. That has not yet been my experience. Truthfully priorities and plans seem muddled at this point. Others speak of being grateful to be alive. I do experience gratitude but that is only part of the truth. This also scares me. I feel more than a bit threatened. None of this is smooth, pretty or easy or one sided.
The original hip pain has intensified and I clearly need both hips replaced. So more surgery is needed in the very near future which is something about which I am not pleased. I accept it but don’t like it. Now, spiritually I am told I’m fortunate and should be grateful. To an extent I am grateful AND I quite naturally I would rather not deal with any more surgery. This is very true of me. I want no more of this. AND there will be more. It is the very core of the spiritual lesson of it all for me. I am an advocate for the AND of experience. I am grateful AND I want to find a room somewhere in which I can throw things, smash mirrors and widows. I want to crash chairs over tables. I am grateful AND furious. I will see both sides of my experience. I will advocate for the second half of experience as much as the first half. I will advocate for the darkness as well as the light of my experience. I affirm the awe AND the fear. I affirm all of my emotions. The ones that are easy and filled with light. AND the ones that are dark which I am supposed to have grown beyond.
I cannot be authentic without the AND. Others seem to be able to do that. I cannot. I know people who can live with the first half of their experience. They seem to have the gratitude without the anger, light without the dark, higher vibration without going through the lower vibration. They amaze me. But I am not one of them. I will advocate for both sides of experience in all aspects of life. A spirituality which does not do this is addicted to light, hope and optimism without the bumps, bruises and scars. Advocating for the AND honors every current in the river of life. Spirit includes, is one with, every current. I advocate for acknowledging every eddy, whirlpool, turbulence, vortex and maelstrom.
It is not simply about my recent experience with death but with the multidimensional reality we constantly face and experiencing all of it.