Is a terminal diagnosis a bad event? It depends on the perspective. To me it’s neutral. Neither good or bad. It just IS. It’s how we colour in the spaces between the words that matters. Will it be in dark greys and black of anger, sadness, and loss, or, in bright yellows, greens and purple of joy happiness and gentleness.
Here below, based on my recent experience are ten reasons to view such a diagnosis in a positive light.
1. A general invigoration of my engagement with life has suddenly occurred with an increase of purpose and vision and energy. These days I wake up early and actually get out of bed promptly, excited to start the day.
2. A desire to abandon my focus on making money and material things – what I can’t take with me when I go – and focus instead on what endures; love and the meeting in relationship.
3. A new focus on creative expression; am now motivated to write that third book, short stories, poetry and a journey blog; idleness, born of a sense of unlimited time, has evaporated.
4. I have developed a greater aversion to negative encounters. from rude waiters to acquaintances who are complainers. Life is literally too short to waste on unproductive situations. A degree of ruthlessness is required.
5. A shortened future has intensified the present moment; past and future have in any case, no lived reality. This weakening of the future’s hold on the mind has made more space for joy without hope: without hope because that also belongs in a fictitious future. It’s like the mental energy wasted on future concerns has become available for the present experience; I am simply more present.
6., Sunlight, dawns and sunsets of which there are more in my life now, music, the taste of food and the company of cherished friends have all taken on, at times, an almost hallucinatory intensity with moments of blissful exhilaration sweeping through my mind.
7. The diagnosis has given me an opportunity to meditate deeply on the meaning of life, suffering and death, knowing that death is perfectly safe- every living thing does it. It’s natural. And I practice dying every day I live, by simply falling asleep.
8. A deep trust in the wisdom of the universe has awakened in my being. The coming journey is, above all, a journey of letting-go; letting go of timetables and plans, later, relationships and ultimately my body.
9. Unlike sudden unexpected death, a medical prognosis of this kind gives one the chance to put one’s affairs in order, to make one’s time on earth meaningful, and to say goodbye to loved ones. It’s actually a beautiful graceful process.
10. So, who am I that is to die? That is the question that has taken an unexpected urgency. If Christmas, countries, even time and ideas of identity that make up personhood are mental constructs without real foundation as many spiritual teachers advocate, then who dies? A terminal diagnosis brings these perennial philosophical questions to the fore. Is it possible to “die” before death, and if so, does death of the mind or consciousness actually exist? In the coming months I shall attempt to answer these questions.