are to come. With you I leave a remembrance of
are by somebody who can love and who shall be continually reborn,a
human being;somebody who said to those near him,when his
would not hold a brush 'tie it to my hand'--"
"Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste
of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems
to me most strange that men should fear; seeing that death, a
will come when it will
I am indebted to Joan "Joani" Culver who inspired this conversation.
A very good friend of mine (who also happened to be a very good person)
died recently. He was in his mid-70s, having lived a full and
productive life, a varied life, an adventurous life,
a life on the
a life of questioning, a life of inquiry. In
his was a life of
and contribution. Then, after 75-some years, it was time to surrender
which he did - characteristically,
in a way that even took care of the people taking care of him.
I shared the news with a mutual colleague. She took it in in silence,
then said "That's so
What did he die of?". Given the
a question like that is to be expected. It's almost traditional. And
with it. It's very human. Yet its habituation has a built-in avoidance.
Let me explain.
I savored it, wary enough so as not to get drawn into its
misdirection. Then I turned to her and said "He died of the end of his
in my answer, undistractable
I wanted its context to be our friend's life, not a condition he was
diagnosed with. I wanted our focus to be on his surrender to
not to a diagnosis. I saw that
his surrender to
by / mitigated by attributing it to the diagnosis of a condition. We
live in conditions. We're always living life in some
condition or other. There's a condition for every moment of our lives,
and there's one for (up to and including) the very end. That much is
obvious. And yet we labor under an illusion as if we'd actually live
for nine hundred years or more (like that guy Methuselah in the Bible)
if only for the condition(s) we're diagnosed with at the
end, which we blame for cutting us down too soon / prematurely.
She looked back at me, slowly opening her
as if to say something, then thought better of it and shut it again.
Then she said "That's r-i-g-h-t", slowly nodding her head, "he
died of the end of his life ...". Say what you will, but that
is what happened, yes? The rest is commentary and
conjecture. That some condition was diagnosed around the time his life
ended, is almost co-incidental. It's what was happening then. It's just
what the condition was at the time.
But it's more than that. It's much more. My idea isn't to
merely surrender to
at the end but to always surrender to
not to a diagnosis, throughout my life as a way of being responsible
for my health and for my well-being. For example: when my hand
shakes, do I surrender to the diagnosis of "essential tremor" and take
submitting to it meekly without questioning? Or do I surrender to
instead as a way of being responsible for being healthy, and
being brutally honest about where in my life I'm repressing
which is a known precursor of essential tremor, then handle it that
way, not simply surrendering to a one-dimensional diagnosis that
may have said) in toto?
not to a diagnosis. That's the difference between having a diagnosed
condition, and the condition having me. In any matter of health and
well-being, that's a powerful place to be, a place where who I really
am can be
a place where who I really am is
regardless of any condition. It's a place that's always available. In
any matter of health and well-being, that's a good distinction to get