So as the convergence of all the external factors in my life come to an overflow, I sit here in my room crying like a baby. I feel like I’m at the precipice of the great transformation that is my life, my soul, and my genius. And it’s a hell of a lot to handle.
In an e-mail correspondence from a mother of a friend this week, she said she “followed my blog”. That struck a painful chord in my heart because it was past tense. She wasn’t currently following it because I’m not currently writing it. She also said I “had a gift” which also struck a C-Minor chord in my heart. Because I wonder why am I not using my gift? Why is it so hard to do what I love to do? Why do the vast majority of humans on this Earth not use their gift or follow their calling? I know why we think we can’t. And that life takes us to unexpected and sometimes unavoidable paths. I know that resistance plays a huge role too.
I’m currently reading, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – a book about the role Resistance plays in our life and how to stay the course of our true calling whether it be an artist, a writer, or an entrepreneur, any endeavor we so choose. In the chapter about Life and Death he goes on to tell a story of Tom Laughlin (Actor and also Jungian-school psychologist) and how his foundation battles cancer. He lectures that the moment a person learns they have terminal cancer there is a profound shift in their psyche. Things that seemed to matter 60 seconds prior to the diagnosis are now poofs of smoke that have evaporated into thin air. No longer in existence. And things, people, and concerns that they had until that moment in time dismissed, now are of the utmost importance.
Other thoughts start racing through the mind of the newly diagnosed terminal patient; thoughts about the gift he once had for music or for a passion not pursued. Laughlin conjectures that with our looming fate hanging over our heads we call assumptions into question. Why are we here? Have I lived my life right? Is there anything in my life left undone?
Laughlin believes that what happens in that moment is a conscious shift from the Ego to the Self. Pressfield writes,
“The Self, as Jung defines it, is a greater entity, which includes the Ego but also incorporates the Personal and Collective Unconscious. Dreams and intuitions come from the Self. The archetypes of the unconcscious dwell there. It is, Jung believed, the sphere of the soul”.
The world is anew when we view it from the Self as opposed to the Ego, which dictates our day to day life, our decisions, our rational thinking. The Laughlin foundation treats cancer this way. They urge to not only have a mental shift but to live it out in their day to day lives. “He supports a housewife into resuming her life in social work, urges the businessman to return to the violin, assists the Vietnam Vet to write his novel. Miraculously, cancers go into remission”.
The last paragraph of the chapter reads like this, “Is it possible, Tom Laughlin asks, that the disease itself evolved as a consequence of actions taken (or not taken) in our lives? Could our unlived lives exacted their vengeance upon us in the form of cancer? And if they did, could we cure ourselves, now, by living these out?”
My immediate thought was of my Aunt Lou. What were her passions, her dreams? What would she have done in an infinite world of possibility? What were her thoughts of when she received the diagnosis that soon took her life? Tears start to flow as I realize that I don’t even really know her. I was 10 when she passed. Then my thoughts shift to what would my dad do? My mom? If they had a “do-over” and could do anything in the world they wanted, what would it be? What have they sacrificed in their lives for me and my sister? What are the lives they’re not living and the genius they could offer the world if uncovered? My thoughts drift to my amazing cousin, who is going through this hell as I type, what would he do? What are his dreams unlived?
This seems so simple yet so impossible. And to those in this position or the family members battling right along side our loved one’s facing the end might meet these statements with anger, but what if? What if there’s merit to this? At the very least it goes to show the importance of living our life in accordance with our soul’s desires and living a life without regret. Showing up and being present in our live’s everyday. Blood, sweat, tears; leaving it all out on the field. Everyday.
For me, that is the lesson I choose to takeaway from this. And also, to take the time to ask my mom and my dad the next time I see them what they could do if the world were boundless. To learn about their desires and to help them pursue them. To know them better and gain wisdom from their years and to bestow upon them my lofty, idealistic ways. To show them it’s never to late to live your dreams. To teach my nieces and maybe one day my own child these lessons now, while their young, and to always encourage them to follow their heart’s compass throughout their life. To not let the dogma that inevitably comes breach their precious, untainted souls. To not feel the pain that I feel as I read Pressfield’s words of a life not lived.
I know I’m young and I can turn things around for myself starting today. I also know that every day is an uphill journey. Possibly a journey that will never have a final destination other than death. I’m going to stay the course, and I’m going to take as many of you down this road as will go with me. To keep fighting the good fight. To make the most of this gift we call life before our expiration date arrives. Instead of bidding the day adieu with thoughts of fear, anxiety, and remorse I want to close my eyes with a sense of peace and tranquility. To know I’ve done all I can do on this day. Forever more.