This word I like... We architect our life...
A song, a sigh... developing words that linger...
Through fields of green, through open eyes... It's for us to see.
Interanimate: To animate or inspire mutually

Friday, January 9, 2009

Day +365 A Year in the Life

It's been exactly one year today.

One day last month I was at Costco standing in a checkout line. I have been in Costco checkout lines many times over the years. They are not moments that normally produce mental bookmarks. December was a busy month. Every checkout station was open. Lines of shoppers snaked around the last parallel product isle into the 2 long pedestrian isles that run the length of the store. It was busy. It was noisy. There were lots of people. Carts were full of gifts. As I looked out across the heads of shoppers I decided to stop thinking about the things I normally think about. I stopped reviewing, for the umpteenth time, what was in my cart and whether I was forgetting something. I vanquished thoughts of what I had to do later in the day; putting up Christmas lights, checking email, checking on my Mom's welfare. I stopped it all, except for the thought of moving forward in the line when it moved. I decided to focus on the people. What was there? What could I learn from them? What were they thinking? I should say that I've done this kind of thing before. In previous years I vaguely remember similar experiments lasting only a few moments. I never knew why I did it, maybe from boredom, maybe from some desire to learn. But on the prior occasions I quickly resumed thinking about the usual things.
This year has been different.
As I focused on the people waiting in line and I shut out my own usual thoughts, I became aware of a very different scene than what I previously described. First, I was aware of a mental bookmark being made, almost like the slow shuttering of a camera lens in low light conditions. The visual image I had of the shoppers changed. I sensed and then saw an energy around each person. Stop. Obviously I'm getting into a weird part here, but I'm going to forge ahead cuz it's my birthday. Each person waiting in line began to reflect light as they stood there checking the contents of their carts, fidgeting in their purses or speaking to their kids. The reflected light from each person was not constant and was not the same intensity. Suddenly I realized this scene was similar to another scene in my memory. Sitting on a cliff over a beach at night; slight breeze, clear skies, full moon out over the ocean. As the breeze slowly glided over the surface it pushed the water into little waves that broke up the reflection of the moon. On a quiet and still night I knew I would see a whole reflection of the moon on the water. But on that night, the wind broke the reflection up into thousands of reflective pieces. Each wave, with it's own energy from the wind, reflected a different aspect of the one moon; into my perspective. Yet the moon itself was reflecting light from a higher source, the sun; which was located 91 million miles to my back. It was a dazzling display, that day at night; at Costco, on the beach. All the shoppers were luminous beings emanating energy in the form of glowing and reflecting lights; yet with no visible source of illumination. No moon. No sun. It was just us people. I really don't think the illumination was coming from the overhead halogen lights, even though one of them was kind of flickering. The light reflections were not of a halogen origin. They were of halo origin. By that I mean I realized that each person has an inner light, their own halo. I've only recently learned to get a glimpse of them once in a while. In fact, when I can see this phenomenon, I feel an immense affinity with each person. I want to communicate with everyone. I feel that if I could get in a conversation with someone, unbeknownst to them, they would be giving me a gift of themselves, a piece of their light. This might appear selfish of me if it is not assumed that such gifts must travel in both directions. That is my hope. I feel I have the same gift to offer. It just may not be readily apparent. And this is the point to my story, but not the cause. The point is, that, I've found more and more over the past 20 years, what people have to offer me, and what I have to offer them; may not readily apparent. I do not always see the value until I take the time and effort to know them. When I take the time and effort, there is always a great reward. I think people are all diamonds on the inside. But that fact is often hidden from view by what looks like a rough surface. The rough surface (in this very lame analogy) is only a perception created by my own self preoccupation, preconceptions, biases, and proclivities. So that's the point of my story. This year, I've really been learning how wonderful people are and how important they are in my life, and to the story of my life.

Now I can talk about the cause to my story. The cause has a name and her name is Cathie.

A year ago on this date as my body was being slowly poisoned by liquids running into my veins from plastic bags hanging on a metal tree with pig tail branches, I felt the cord of life loosening it's grip. There was no pain. There was just this increasing feeling of impending doom. Technically, all cell division in my body had been stopped by the chemicals. The biological party was over. The gas tank was running dry. The generators were coughing on fumes and the lights were beginning to dim. It was a nightmarish feeling. And it may have resulted in a nightmarish end if not for the fact I had a guardian angel with me in the flesh. Cathie. Those of you who know Cathie will understand what I'm writing about. As she has done so many times since I met her almost 23 years ago, she poured on the love, affection, and hope. I could easily have let that silver cord slip away if not for Cathie's encouragement and insatiable cheer. For the last year, she has been my care giver, my light, my angel. She has been the source of my awakening. She is the cause for my story today. To this day she has not flinched from her optimism. I have a lot yet to learn from her so I am determined to stick around.

Since this is my birthday I will share another quick story. This is the story of an artist.
Again, this one was inspired by Cathie.

One Artists Story.
I was born into life with an immense empty canvas. I was provided with paints, brushes and an easel. At the end of my life my goal is to have my canvas filled with the paintings of other people; family, friends, strangers. I am not concerned with how 'good' they paint. There are no qualifications for someone to paint on my canvas. They can paint whatever they want; fun, serious, angry, happy. I only ask that people paint what they feel. People can paint over other peoples paintings on my canvas. However, I may protect certain painted areas on my canvas from re-painting because I like what is on that spot. There will always be new places to paint on my canvas. People are welcome to come back to finish a painting started on an earlier date. People are welcome to continue painting a design started by someone else. I will never paint over what someone else has painted on my canvas because the paints and brushes I was provided were not meant for my canvas. At the end of my life I will show my canvas to everyone I know and say, "Look, this is the story of my life".


Thank You Cathie. Next week I get my 1 year bone marrow biopsy. This will be my 6th one. I'll need you to hold my hand again.


Duane said...

Congratulations, buddy! You're doing amazing. Here's to a new year of possibilities. :)

Anonymous said...

wow... You have my speachless (which we all know does not happen very often) Happy Birthday Jim! Thank you for always keeping us updated and in your life, for always letting us paint on your canvas,join in your story! We love you so much
Derek, Shelli, and Parker

David and Cassandra said...

What an amazing blog. You have been given a gift with people. I was so happy to be with you and the family yesterday and to celebrate your one year.

Cathie is such a wonderful person, she touches the life of everyone she meets. I can always feel a love when I am around her. No matter the situation. She has always been an inspiration to me and a role model. I am so happy to be back in California so I can spend more time with you guys.

Love always

Pallavi Campion said...

Thanks for your post Jim. Your and Cathie's relationship is an inspiration.