The book, Silent Presence; Grief’s Unfolding Promise is at the editors. What follows is a random excerpt from the book. It is composed of journal entries from September 2006 through April 2012, all written in the voice of direct experience. The entries weave together Kenny’s life and death with the reality of spiritual awakening, his legacy. Silent Presence is a wild ride that spans the pain and suffering, aliveness and joy, and the truly mystical—the indefinable, indescribable. The reviews from those who have read it, attest to its power and ability to bestow Kenny’s legacy upon anyone who is truly willing.
I am taking order for Silent Presence. The book will be available in print and as an e-book. To begin with, I am placing a small print order. If you are interested in pre-ordering the book or e-book, please email me and I will send you details.
WINTER 2007 – 2008
Dan Millman: Life has just three rules?
Socrates: And you already know them…
Dan Millman: Paradox, humour, and change.
Dan Millman: Life is a mystery. Don’t waste time trying to figure it out.
Dan Millman: Keep a sense of humour, especially about yourself. It is a strength beyond all measure.
Dan Millman: Know that nothing stays the same.
From the movie, Peaceful Warrior
Ken’s asleep now. It’s been a big couple of days. Seems like a lifetime has come and gone; perhaps it has. Ten hours of surgery, four hours of recovery and we are into the next phase of life, hoping to survive cancer. We almost made it to eighteen months, but not quite.
Ken’s rollercoaster ride with cancer, our ride, is giving me a whole new appreciation for life and a deeper understanding of the preciousness of each moment. I now know why people close down and create walls around themselves for protection. It is agonizing to remain open when the present moment is filled with sadness and suffering.
I refuse to close down in any way, so here I sit wide open, allowing it to be what it is, without story, without running or hiding. The love of all my friends and family is present here too. I would miss that if I closed down. I have to accept it all, remain open to it all, or I miss the joy inherent in the sorrow. I miss the deep connection that lies within the pain.
My natural instinct for self-preservation is readily throwing up walls. Ducking behind the walls, I check out and am unavailable to life. I tried to partition off the good from the bad, so that I only experience happiness and joy, but it didn’t work. I used to think that it didn’t work that way for me. Now I know that it simply doesn’t work that way.
When I partitioned off what I didn’t want, I built walls that walled me out. Rather than being truly alive, I enclosed myself within a glass fortress. What I got was a mental experience, rather than the real. It didn’t prevent me from feeling pain. I was still afraid the glass would crack, that something would sneak around the corner and knock me out.
I watched an old movie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. John Travolta portrayed a boy forced to live in a plastic isolation chamber because his immune system didn’t work. The bubble really resonates for me. It is a great analogy for what I do to myself when I say no to my life. Rather than being forced to live inside the bubble as a safeguard against viruses, I choose it, believing it to be safer than this painful experience. The virus I am vulnerable to is fear.
When something good comes along, I can’t simply step around the wall or open the door and be free of the bubble. The walls aren’t external. I have unconsciously wired them into all my systems. They are seamless and fully integrated. When I become conscious of the wall, I can dismantle it. Without that awareness, the wall is a powerful sentinel, blocking direct experience, even when I think I am being present.
Travolta’s character fell in love with the girl next door. He decided that life on the outside, even if it meant his death, was better than a long, safe life, disconnected from the ability to fully love. It was a coming of age story. Coming of age usually means becoming an adult. I think it means growing into my true humanity—a being capable of unqualified compassion, aware that being human includes the good and bad, the pain and the joy. I am not meant to find the golden bucket at the end of the rainbow. There is no prince on a white horse.
Inside the bubble, I have the appearance of safety, but it kills me slowly, roasting me one unlived experience at a time. I cannot choose only the good life offers. Even if it were possible, I’d miss out on life’s messy and complex reality. I would miss the ability to experience real aliveness.
So, I live now. I don’t know how long I have, let alone how long Ken will be with me. These moments are precious. They are gifts I don’t want to miss. Hell is inside the bubble. Heaven is filled with sorrow and suffering, joy and ecstasy, and it is here outside the bubble. One-step at a time. Just stay present. Live now. Be here.