Tuesday Toffee #14: thinking animal

Let’s try a wild thing. You’re notified that you are going to die within 3 months.

Do you feel that chill in your brain? As your thoughts stop when the meaning of the heard sentences sink in your mind and start to spread? Do you hear the silence?

I know, this is kind of an old topic. There are so many books and articles and testimonials written or done by people who experienced this for real. 

What would count for you in that moment, when you learn the length of the rest of your life that is given to you? Would you feel grateful for what you had up to that point, or rather disappointed? Maybe full of unfulfilled desires?

As part of a conversation today, noting the foggy-silvery smoke-snake of death hugging us close through sicknesses in dear friends’ family, we ended up discussing the farewell letter of Oliver Sacks, entitled My Own Life, on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer.

What do you feel, when you say this little expression: my own life?

First of all, can you feel that your life is your own?

Some say it belongs to God. Others say it belongs to the parents, then it may belong to your partner, to your friends, then to your boss…  or to your country…

I guess our lives are not our own in the classic understanding. We do belong to our infinite God or Goddess, we belong to each other, and we belong to ourselves. As it is stated in the only movie which is a better artwork than its original book: in The Cloud Atlas, directed and screenplay written by the Wachowski brothers and Tom Tykwer – and the book written by George Mitchell:

“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

The quote is from the movie. It is not a particularly good one, but I liked it a lot.

So my inner senses tell me that my own life is my own in this particular context. I can do whatever I want, as long as I give it. Giving can be little actions, small ones, unrecognisable, so tiny that maybe only the heart knows what is going on. In the background. And that is enough.

I was there 7 years ago by the side of my dying grandmother, mother of my mom. We were there, both of us, at home, and she passed away from a moment to the other. It was an initiation to life’s mysteries, and I carry this memory as a great treasure.

I will never forget that deep silence, how the world has stopped for a moment when her noisy breath finally died away. By then she was unconscious since almost a day.

My other grandmother, who was more than 20 years older than her, died only a few months apart. She was taken to a hospital, and I couldn’t be there at her side. I always wished I could have been.

That was a hard year, 2009, as it was 2008 and 2010. There were too many deaths in and around my family.

Being home in my life means that I do something I believe in, that I offer for what I stand for and I do not lie to myself about who I am not and who I’d wished to be.

My life has value only in relation with all the people who are in my life, who shared their light with me or has taken from mine.

“I cannot pretend I am without fear.” – wrote Oliver Sacks in his essay of My Own Life; – “But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

Let’s try again.

You just received the notice that you will die soon… what is that you feel?

I feel grateful for what I was given and what I could give. And I wish I could have a bit more time to share my life with my love doing what I am doing right now: writing, offering support for those who are in difficult life-change processes, travel and being happy and blessed by the company of those wonderful people who are in my life around me. For I am not done yet :).

2 responses to “Tuesday Toffee #14: thinking animal

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