Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Life and Death

"Life is too short to be little." Benjamin Disraeli

In the shadow of the threat of death, one begins to look for deeper meanings. Words and platitudes are challenged. Procrastinated intentions ask, "When? If not now, never." Superficiality is exposed as a sham. Denial is questioned. Truth demands a fair hearing.

As a human being, I am more than I become because I hold myself back with assumptions, rules, timidities, and lies. I lie to myself. I listen to formerly instilled inner voices that say, you can't, you shouldn't, you mustn't. You are too weak, too dumb, too busy, too lazy, too small, too broke, too insignificant to make a difference. I don't become all that I am meant to be...because I think I've got all the time I need to be stronger, smarter, more efficient, more ambitious, richer, and more real.

And then a threat of something as natural as death and loss of a loved one slaps me hard where it hurts and says, "Wake up. You have not been given infinity to get your act together. You cannot wait forever to find out who you are and why you are here and what life means to extract from you to share with the world."

Something as prevalent as disease that stems from human disregard for nature, threatens to take someone I love and need and cherish in my life, and I have to recognize that life is "too short to be little." Now, not later, is the time to live. And to live, I must find my center. Life is not physical, nor mental, emotional, or spiritual. Life is all of those things and more. It's a connection to one's soul, to the natural world, and to the universe. Too long I have existed without living fully. How many more wake up calls will I get? If not now, never.

Cancer has invaded my sister's lung. We don't yet know the extent of it's occupation of her body. Our hope today is that her otherwise healthy body has kept it confined to one area and with the surgeon's help will be routed completely. Tests will tell us in a day or two. My supplication today is that coming this close and the sacrifice of one of her lungs will be enough to wake me up to live big, live deeply, and spend life's precious moments on what is important.

I will be away from my office and in Colorado for as long as my sister needs me near and as long as I need to be by her side. She has been my inspiration for as long as I've lived. I will be here as long as she needs me and as long as it takes for this blow to wake me up to the importance of life lived largely. Joan who has inspired my writing and is my inspiration in many other aspects of life as well.

"Life is too short to be little"
Life is too dear to deny.
Life is too precious to squander
by living an emotional lie.

Follow your feelings.
Seek your center and live deep.
Eradicate deadening fear.

Make life count by being real to the core.

1 comment:

Janet Grace Riehl said...

Janet, I'm sorry to hear of your sister's illness. But, I'm glad to know you are there for her. I'm glad to know you are taking her illness to heart as a sign of human mortality.

You may know these have been themes of my work since we lost my sister Julia suddenly in 2004...and my mother in 2006.

I wish you, your sister, and your family well. At some point you may find it comforting to read/listen to my "Momento Mori: Life and Death Moment by Moment" talk.

Be well.

Janet Riehl