Being with what is

What has fascinated me in the past few months is our struggle to be with what is. As we were thrown into a crisis that certainly in this country in this lifetime I don’t think we have lived before ( knowing that we have been privileged) I noticed how in politics, on television and on soclal media many of us tried to fight the reality of what was happening by imagining ways in which it should have been done better. 

What I noticed when I looked deeper was that much like in organisations while we may say we want to learn from something, often what we really mean is that we want to step into action to resolve the now before we have understood and accepted it. I can remember one tv talk show where this became evident, when one of the guests carefully suggested that perhaps what was needed was to accept our own and each others mortality, most of the guests and certainly the hosts seemed to struggle with this notion. What we are good at in the public sphere it seemed was to talk about how to keep people, businesses and organisations alive, not how to allow them to die with dignity.

Being with what is and has been is never easy, it is especially hard when it impacts you not directly as the one who is ill, or goes bankrupt, yet as the one whose life is changing as you stand by. As I know from having been around others who were seriously ill in the last two years, it is hard when you are standing by , seeing others suffer and to notice how you grow through it. How what may be the hardest period of their life, including the end, actually offers those around them blessings. And yet, this is how life works, there is meaning to be found in the deepest trenches of life, the places we thought we might never want to go might offer up the most profound learning if we are willing to be with it. 

I’m an optimist and I do not cherish pain and at the same time I have found that there is always beauty to be found in life, however tough it gets. I don’t celebrate hardships as opportunities sent to us by a god or gods, to learn things we have to learn, yet when they come why simply suffer if we can find meaning. The covid-19 pandemic does not have to be a turning point and if we choose it could be. If we could allow ourselves to be with all that it has thrown up and notice what that inspires in us we might learn more than if we demand our government learns simple lessons now. We might gain more from seeing the beautiful art “Requiem” in which Anjet van Linge crafted wood crosses with dedications for all that was true in these months, than from trying to do a factual after action review of how many tests were available when. It is not that facts don’t matter they do, and yet they will never be the same again whereas the art that is created now can teach us something bigger, can teach us about our human soul and how it works, something that will still hold when we meet another crisis. 

Being with what is sustained me during these past few months, and as far as I knew at the time, it was only my finances that were impacted. Then in May I learned that in fact I was also one of those people who was not diagnosed earlier due to the covid-19 pandemic. Unbeknown to me and without symptoms other than a harmless seeming bump on my head, it turned out I in fact have a tangerine sized tumour in my skull. While the wonderful doctors looking at the medical side are taking the time to figure out what it is and how best to treat it, all I can do is be with what is.  So I notice, breathe and repeat, while I write to make sense of it all. And I have asked myself if there is something I want to take from this what is it, if I thought this tumour had a message what would it be. That gives a clarity on what is important in my life now, and so I discovered that apart from wanting to continue living where I live with my extended family and cherishing my friends, there are three things I really want to be with: writing a book on the lessons my horses teach me, taking photographs of herds and ride my horses. I know it is my own deeper self that wants to do these things, yet this tumour is quite a handy, though somewhat dramatic way, of kicking my ever procrastinating self into gear. 

Anjet brought me a print of the cross dedicated to those who will live, fully in line with my intention to live a long life and at the same time, I know there is also a cross for those who will die. More than otherwise I feel connected to the fact that one day that cross will be for me too, I will die, like everyone else. I am mortal, that has become a felt reality, rather than an abstract fact – and being with that makes life all the more present … 

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