I was doing dishes after I read you’ll be packing up and heading home. I still am waiting for the tears to stop flowing. I’m not crying because you won’t be blogging anymore (and thanks for the heads up). I’m not crying because you’re leaving the blog world to go do good things in the real world.
I’m crying because I know you had a positive impact on me and I’m not going to forget that, or you. I’m crying because you touched a lot of lives, and you invited us into yours, illuminating your struggles that many of us grapple with, helping to give it a language. I am glad I was a part of the conversation about spirituality and meaning-making.
I’m sorry for going off track sometimes.
I’ll just have you know…I hate goodbyes.
I want to share something a friend of mine and my husband’s wrote on his facebook page while he was struggling with his second round of leukemia:
“Even the strong show signs of fatigue.” Friedrich Nietzsche
by M on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 9:08pm*
My brother said this to me once. At the moment, I have a deep and un-abiding understanding of it. The frequency with which I have been hospitalized has bogged me down. The grinding nature of it. Never really knowing when I’ll be home or for how long. Although I am not broken, I am definitely bent. Even with the context of other patients doing worse, it still beats you down. You lose your steam.*
The process of building your steam takes time. A few choice words, an extra few minutes on the treadmill, and the pilot light engages. You no longer think you can, you know you can. The pilot light catches and the flames start. The self-pity burns away and what’s left is your desire. In my case, desire to live. It is in the depths of our human experience; the foundry, where emotional horsepower is built. Our emotions evolved to make us greater than we think we can be. Emotional horsepower is how people walk on broken legs and fight with broken hands. Emotional horsepower is an engine. If you want to increase power, you have to bore bigger holes to accommodate bigger pistons. It’s this hollowing out that hurts. When it’s finished, you are left with these large holes. You can fill them with anger. You can fill them with despair. Or, you can fill them with fire. You can fill them with love. You can fill them with understanding. Opportunities to increase our emotional horse power are all around us. It is a question of how bad are you willing to hurt.*
He died three months later, not quite a year ago, on May 28th, during his 40th year.
I didn’t get to know him as much as I really wished I had. I was partly afraid of getting close knowing he was struggling with cancer, and knowing I lost another friend to cancer years earlier. I thought keeping my distance would protect my heart from the pain. No such luck.
I had to say my goodbyes when he was in a coma. And the pain of saying goodbye the way I did was way worse than had I taken the risk of coming closer. So much so I still feel raw from it.
I came across this passage from Sam Keen’s In the Absence of God: Dwelling in the Presence of the Sacred.
“The life given me is a rich bundle of talents and potentialities I may choose to actualize or not. My unique and unrepeatable life is a work in progress that depends on my will, imagination, and energy to bring it to fruition. As I struggle to actualize my gifts, to respond to my vocation, I am empowered to experience the fullness of being.
As the Gospel of Thomas has Jesus saying, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you”.
The sense of purpose involves the conviction that my most idiosyncratic gifts are an integral part of the divine creative process – the eighth day of creation.
Ernest Becker expressed the thought most poignantly on his deathbed. “What makes dying easier is…to know beyond the absurdity of one’s own life, beyond human viewpoint, beyond what is happening to us is the fact of tremendous creative energies of the cosmos that are using us for some purpose we don’t know. To be used for divine purposes, however we may be misused, that is the thing that consoles.””
“We pop into existence without having been provided with an owner’s manual and must create a sense of meaning for our individual lives. For some, this absence of intrinsic purpose creates massive anxiety. The existentialst Jean-Paul Sartre said that the fact of existence was nauseating – more burden than gift – and we were “condemned to be free.”
I’m not saying goodbye, because you haven’t ‘gone’. And there’s no reason to, even though I’d been bawling my eyes out while I wrote this entire post.
You made a difference in the blogging world, now go make a difference in the real world.
Much love, my friend.
And rather than goodbye, I’ll just say