Honest Delusions

The title of my post comes from an amazing sermon I heard at church last week from a retired newspaper reporter. At the FIrst Unitarian Church of Rochester, we have taken on a “Provocateur-in-Residence,” named Mark Hare, formerly of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Hare’s first sermon was “The Honest Person’s Honest (Even Noble) Delusions” and just blew me away. (Listen here: streaming | download ) He talked about how all people put up delusions about all sorts of things. Putting self imposed limits on ourselves that sometimes we don’t even know we’re doing, until someone else points it out. For example, telling yourself you’re too old or too busy to go back to school or to take a new job, then someone else tells you that, well No in fact you can do it because of X, Y & Z. Then you think – well yeah, of course I could do that!

The part that astonished ME was when Hare started talking about his friend with cancer, near the end of his talk. Mike & I just kept looking at each other because we knew how it felt to “deal” with a terminal illness. This friend with terminal cancer, was told he would have 6 months to live. He just kept living his life. He made plans to play music and travel and kept living. You would think he never remembered he was dying. But it was not true. As Hare puts it, he had that stuff in the “closet” until he could deal with it. He didn’t live his life as a dying person, he lived it as a living person, and every so often he’d check in that “closet.”

Well the night before this we were watching Doctor Who’s Episode “Night Terrors,” where a frightened “little boy” kept all the scary things in the cupboard! (cupboard=closet) And since he was actually an alien being, they were really going into the cupboard. Even little kids can understand putting scary stuff away from sight!

I can relate to both these stories. Yes I have ALS, with no cure, that continually progresses, but I have chosen to live my life as a person who gets up, gets dressed and goes to work. I shove that horrible news I have that I will someday not be able to do anything back into the closet until I can deal. Occasionally, I do take it out and remind myself to enjoy each day that I have as it comes. I don’t think our human minds can handle knowing that sickness will wear you down and death is coming. That dark place will freak you out.

The best part was sharing this service with Mike, who gladly, already knew I was not acting in self denial but in a place that moves me forward in life. Which I guess keeps my body motivated to live as well.

Advertisements

Practicing Non-attachment

Aside from living in the present moment, this is one of my BIGGEST challenges. How does one DO this? How do you stay grounded by releasing things, people, etc. ? I’m a photographer — I capture. That’s what I do! I was looking at my little girl tonight and trying to think about how to not be attached to her. Impossible! How can I let go this sweet thing I created?

My Little Fairy

My logic tells me that everything ends, as well as life itself, but I just can not apply that to my baby. I can make art and see it go. I’ve moved enough times to see my belongings go.

I’m reading No Self No Problem by Anam Thubten. I saw him lecture at the UU church last month. He was fantastic! I bought his book on the spot. It was kinda weird having a spiritual leader who was close to my age talk about Buddhism! I’m used to old guys who are “wise.” But he was great, down-to-earth, and seemed quite in touch with modern life despite being a month from a young age.

I just finished reading his chapter about non-attachment today. Logically, it all makes perfect sense. But emotionally, I feel like if I let go of someone, like my baby, I need to DETACH. And as far as I can tell, detachment is not the best way to parent your kids. On the other hand, I do practice this with our cats. They are indoor/outdoor cats. We live near a busy street in the burbs. I let them out knowing they may not come back, yet I do love my kitties and I take them to the vets, and buy them reflective collars. I will be sad if something does happen to them, for sure. The best I can do for non-attachment of my daughter is to have no attachment as to who or what she’ll be like. It started that way in the womb. It was more out of superstition — so that the baby would come out ok. All pregnant mothers must go through that. Anam calls it “inner contentment.” He writes that you give up nothing, just your attachment. Again, sounds simple. Not always so simple to do. Or maybe it is and it’s just not so easy to do. }:(

Meditation Walk

I went to a very peaceful and informative meditation retreat at the Unitarian Universalist church today. The  2 ladies were very sweet, and had perfect voices for meditation! They seemed so at peace when they talked about the Buddhist teachings. I thought I was out of my element, at first, but slowly they opened up and we found out that they are also still fighting their thoughts just like everyone else. I’d never had women teachers for this type of practice before.

One of the meditation styles they showed us was a walking mediation. I’m somewhat familiar with walking in silence from an all day retreat at the Zen Center. This was different. They asked us to walk around in silence for 10 minutes. We could walk in the room, out in the church or, as I did, out in the church garden.

What a lovely day! I admit it was hard not to think surrounded by the huge trees and still green foliage underneath. I decided that one of my next photographic projects was to come back and find some of those simple joys I’d seen on my walk. Hopefully, I can keep that little promise I made myself – and the garden.