These are interesting times! Without precedent and the accompanying pre-packaged, well-practised, habituated responses, we are faced with mindfully choosing the behaviours which we think will best serve our interests and those of others we care about. In truth, we are now in a time when those ‘others’ must include any and all with whom we may come in contact. Our sphere of ‘caring’ has just expanded by orders of magnitude – out of necessity – and taken a massive leap into discovering the boundaries of our ability to care. This requirement finds us asking ourselves: just what are we capable of?
New experiences seed many things. Curiosity. Fear. A sense of impending doom; of being frozen in time. Confusion. So many possibilities! What they also seed is a re-awakening to the essential requirement for us to choose. In the absence of reliable, automated and pre-installed knee-jerk reactions as our first go-to option, we must come face-to-face with the essential requirement for us to move through our reality, differently. We must explore our own capacity for mindful choice.
Many of us have been conditioned into an aversion to choosing mindfully. Far more preferable (so we’ve been trained) is to look around and do what others are doing rather than to seek to do what is ‘right’ and in alignment with our own internal cues. As much as so many things could go ‘right’ in doing so, we feel a pull from somewhere deep in our past that reminds us of just how much could go ‘wrong’: disapproval, punishment, alienation from colleagues, friends and family; and finding ourselves alone, in our own thinking, as we watch the collective move off into the distance, turning down a different path and leaving us behind.
These are the thoughts that have occupied my mind in these last weeks.
Thoughts of choosing… mindfully… and standing alone in that choosing.
This childhood rhyme stirs somewhere in the back of my mind:
Eaney, meaney, miney, mo….
But mine has a twist:
Eaney, meaney, miney, mortality…..
In a few short months, I will mark completion of my 70th year. It never occurred to me that I would ever do such a thing! Not sure why I felt that way given that chronology and the passage of time simply make it an inevitable part of my existence: if I stay alive, I will turn 70. Not exactly a demanding feat for which I must prepare! Inhale.. exhale… and voila! Mission accomplished.
Perhaps it is that my turning 70 would take place in such a massive, hyper-attentive, global, ongoing moment of dystopia! For one who has lived one of those in-so-many-ways privileged lives, it is a strange place to find myself as Alfie and I wonder: what’s it all about?
My children (now both in their 30’s) are facing a very different line of enquiry about their future; one that none of us ever thought would bring other than a gently rising curve representing health, wellbeing, comfort and accumulation. These are, after all, the long-held markers of a successful life. And now… this.
Two things are unfolding within me, at the same time: the circumstances we currently find ourselves in and my personal journey of turning 70. For me, this now demands new choices.
Eaney, meaney, miney, mortality….
As one who holds great respect for the power of The One to shape a collective, I am choosing to follow the rules. I am choosing to trust that ‘flattening the curve’ is a useful thing of which to be a part. As both my sons continue to go to their respective jobs, I am mindful of the (hopefully) decreasing risk to them if we all just do what is asked of us. In the mindfulness of my sons… and all the other sons and daughters who, in this time, are making our lives sustainable… I am asking that we all do what is asked of us. I am also very mindful of the alternative.
Eaney, meaney, miney, mortality….
My mother just turned 95. Despite her advancing dementia, she remains robust in her physicality and mindful (in her mindlessness) that her nursing skills are required. I am (as the Brits would say) ‘preparing myself’ in the event that this is the time that she will choose for her own departure. At some level, I am also mindful of the degree to which her 21-year-old mind and its corresponding immune system response continue to keep her well while so many around her have succumbed to the challenges of illness in a collective. She may well be the last one standing… or she may choose to go. Either way, her mortality is very much a part of my own journey, these days. I find myself wondering if our departures will be in tandem.
Eaney, meaney, miney, mortality….
My own. My potential, impending early demise. I have long been a believer that my Life is MINE and I choose to hold mySelf as the keeper of that Great Exit gateway. I am mindful of what awaits me should I believe that COVID-19 can enter into my lungs and take my life. Like the rest of the world, I watch the news footage of so many lying flat and still and silent… tubes and machines keeping their organic, quantum biological devices fully in the struggle of taking a single breath… and another… and another, each as agonizing as the last. The requisite intubation. The necessity of the induced coma. The days/weeks/months of struggle through and possibly, beyond into ‘recovery’. I know this is not my destiny. Either I choose not to embrace the virus (which I hold as yet another level of ‘choice’ for mySelf) or I choose to embrace the virus and to go quietly into the night. There will be no struggle.
Mortality is gift. It is one slipped into the Spirit-to-flesh back-pack of readiness as we approach our impending birth; one we are given before we arrive and are too often encouraged to forget that we have. Mortality is the ultimate choice that allows me to leave… to move from one layer of expression of Self to another. Under Canadian law, someone else sets the parameters deemed essential before I can make that ultimate choice to step through the gateway. Personally? I don’t believe that is the government’s/law’s domain. After all, I arrived here with that gift and it is mine to unwrap when the time is right, for ME. Perhaps in these extra-ordinary circumstances, the grip of others on MY Life could be loosed and make way for a desired, welcomed and mindfully chosen departure.
My Life has been an incredible ride! I feel blessed and deeply honoured to have been chosen to be the Mother for my two remarkable sons. Strong of body and mind, they shape their own lives and do so without apology and with great care of those they cherish. My work has consisted of spending 30 years in the deeply meaningful and compelling explorations of the potential of our lives. The great honour of engaging, over decades, with those who arrive broken of body, mind and Spirit… and who leave with a great hope restored for the trajectory of their lives, their world and their interconnectivity with others. For me, deeply, deeply rewarding and life-giving work!
Over these 30 years, I’ve written books, designed and facilitated in-depth and extensive programs; recorded hundreds of hours of audio material and written articles and blog posts beyond count. I have chosen to live my life as if it mattered, creating a process that made doing so more accessible.. and I have shared that process with thousands of others who have found their own way with it. And as much as I chose to spend most of my life on the ‘front line’ of that exploration, I now choose to step back… let go… and watch the magic happen! My Life is full of amazing women who are – held in great estimation and deeply cherished – Beasts of Goddesses! No whining or complaining with this group! Their reality is theirs to create – and they rise gloriously to that occasion! I am honoured by the great company that I have chosen to keep.
Were I to face that final choice… the eaney, meaney, miney, mo of my departure… I would choose to ensure that the ventilator goes to someone who’s Life awaits; someone for whom The Call to engage and create still rings powerfully in their ears. As much as I have no intention of departing with a virus as my ticket onto the bus, I am mindful that I want it known: there will be no struggle to stay.
My mortality – my choice. What the laws and the government might now do, in the face of these extra-ordinary, massive, global circumstances, is make my departure and that of many others who share this view, an easy one; one steeped in kindness and the deep Sacred that is so meaningful to me. Rather than insist on the struggle of forced respiration; rather than insist on a slow and treacherous departure that strains all for whom I care so deeply and who care about me, the simple act of RIG… of Respect, Integrity and Generosity of Spirit… in the form of just a little too much morphine may allow me to cash in the gift of my birthright… move through that gateway…. and go Home.
Life… including the eaney, meaney, miney, mo of mortality… need not ever, be a struggle.