dailybell: End of the Crusade?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

End of the Crusade?

While preparing to post the weekly offering, it seemed like a good opportunity for reflection. Intention is everything and as I examine my own intentions for doing this project, I find myself wildly fluctuating from altruistic to self-aggrandizing. It’s also apparent that while I understand some of the reasons for doing this, I haven’t the faintest idea or insight into others.

In addition to the initial inspiration for the project, there is another large factor that drives and sustains me in the more personal aspect of the daily practice of observing each sunrise and sunset. A very dear friend has been slowly dying for the past two and a half years. She has been given the one-month-to-live sentence several times during this period and each time, we prepare anew to say goodbye and “wrap things up”. When I say, “we prepare” I am referring to her family and friends and not to my friend herself. Due to the nature of her illness, she is and has been largely unaware of her condition and has not suffered from the stress and anguish that might normally attend this awareness. We on the other hand have been continually amazed, inspired and overwhelmed by the power of her endurance and the strength of her life force. I love her and I have tried to maintain a deep connection with her throughout this time of her slow and inevitable departure from this life.

Once someone is dying, all bets are off with regard to simple things like making certain kinds of plans. Even more unsettling is the disruption of expectations of ordinary things like sharing and communicating ideas, feelings and perceptions. When the glue of our daily conduct and ways in which we connect with each other are seriously altered, we experience a profound loss. However, if we want to continue to connect and share our lives and experience, we attempt find new ways to do this. Unpredictability is the new gravitational force that permeates reality.

So with this in mind, it make sense that I would be somewhat desperately and tenaciously seeking and clinging to something inalterable and utterly predictable. An ultimate truth as undeniable as death itself. Hence, the attraction to the activity of the rotation of the earth and the sun that presents two such indisputable events each day.

As compelling and true as this is for me, I could simply observe this relationship as a personal and private daily practice, enriching and healing myself. However, there is more to it than that. This prolonged experience with dying has persistently and gently forced me to observe and participate in the world in a different way. It’s not to say that I am more patient or kind or compassionate. Neither am I less cranky or intolerant. I still yell at cars while driving. I get jealous and feel slighted. I argue with my husband. ETC. But somehow I am doing all of this in a much larger world. Or I should say- a world more greatly observed and appreciated.

This expanded and prolonged engagement with the world through the lens of the close association with the death and dying of someone I cherish has quite simply expanded what I am consciously aware of in my ordinary life. This perspective has informed my interests and curiosities about life and being human. It was inevitable that this should find it’s way into my work. The dailybell2008 is an exploration. As such, I don’t really know what I am doing. I have ideas of what I think I am trying to do. I have plans. I even do things. But nothing is really clear to me except that I have created an obligation that I intend to honor.


Elaine Williams said...

Wonderful post. This is the best you can do for your friend, be there in whatever way is possible. This is admirable and caring and your friend is lucky. May you be well.

Anonymous said...

Sounds fine to me.