When sitting at the table and someone comes up it often seems that they are so open that I just know something about them.
Not details about their lives per se, but something about the way they comport themselves somehow. I don’t know how my senses combine, it is a sort of listening that happens while seeing or a touching that slides into tasting their spirit. It is feels effortless and full of connection.
When D sat down there was just a fullness and a depth about her. Just sitting there a moment between when we introduced ourselves to each other and before she asked her question – profoundly, there she was.
Will I live another 10 years?
Still listening I let the question sit between us and waited to see if there was more to follow. There wasn’t.
Are you worried that you won’t live another 10 years? I ask because I am not a prognosticator or a fortune teller. I can offer you a creative approach to thinking about the question perhaps, but not a definitive answer.
D nodded and understood my differentiation and continued.
I understand what you do and I am interested in a creative way of thinking about my situation. But I am just interested in what the gut reaction is from a person like you. I have a fatal disease and I was supposed to be dead about five or six years ago but I somehow just cruised by that mark to the astonishment of my doctors and myself. I feel okay but not healthy or particularly strong, but not falling apart either.
D didn’t look sick or frail but clearly she had confronted death and considered her mortality. This examination had doubtless added to the depth and gravity of her presence.
I responded to D
I don’t know whether you will live another 10 years or another 10 minutes. There is no right answer really is there? Yes, you will? No, you wont? Either is a trap to drop your guard and ride the wave of death to where it takes you. What I think might be important for a woman like you in the situation you are in is to ‘die before you die.'”
We then talked about the Vedic concept of Bhava Roga (The Disease of Existence) and the Sufi notion of Fana (annihilation of the notion of personal ego) and the Zen story of the man who has been searching for enlightenment and while paddling in a river comes across a corpse floating in the river who he sees as himself and only then did the quest for enlightenment start.
It was a philosophical conversation of the first order but it was full of lightness, heart and compassion for the other. Neither of us was trying to convince the other of anything but just sharing our experiences of how this experience of losing the connection to this cherished idea of who we are and how important that is can lead to a larger and more expansive vision that is less fearful about the death of our body and any other fear for that matter.
This wasn’t new ground for D – she talked about how she had died in this way before but how her medical treatment had been locking her into her dying body.
I asked her
Where is your heart? Go there and whatever life you have left, any of us has left will be full and free.
It was one of those statements that though it came out of my mouth was channeled from some wise universe. It stopped us both and her original question now had a different shape.
We thanked each other and D went on her way.
Where is your heart? How might you die before you die?
If you think a conversation or a creative approach like this could be of use to you where you are now…