meeting the enemy

meeting the enemy

Ultimately, as I reflect, the greatest obstacles I have faced in life have molded me in to the person I am. Injuries have made me a clearer and safer teacher, times of financial hardship have given me insight into the value of money and empathy toward others who struggle with it, experience both first and second-hand with depression has gifted me with the ability to hold space for myself and others at their lowest. Moving to a new land where I do not speak the language or understand the cultural nuances gives me a small glimpse into what it feels like to be invisible or powerless. It has also given me a greater appreciation for the ways in which I am incredibly privileged. When I offer gratitude to my challenges, when I meet my "enemies" with thankfulness and compassion, it transforms me. Even if the person or situation is not changed at all, I am. How I see and feel and taste hardship changes. And, in my limited but real experience, it makes a profound difference. 

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This Very Moment. My Friend, Zoe.

“…Life is just a moment in time
And we go round and round
(if you’re listening)…  

 - Pharcyde, Moment in Time

 I went home recently to visit one of my dearest and oldest friends, Zoe, to check in with her and support her as she courageously fights stage four breast cancer.  There is no one I know who embodies and embraces life more than Zoe, and to honor her fearlessness and zeal, I am beginning to rethink the way I live and work every day.  Consider it a matching pledge drive; as she dedicates herself to raw food, juicing, and natural healing modalities in the face of a very scary disease, I will dedicate myself to my work, relationships, and life in general with more fervor, courage and compassion.  When something scares me or makes me worry, I think of her and it moves me to be fearless.  When I feel myself harden and close off in reaction to discomfort, I remember Zoe’s open heart and free spirit and it moves me to be more compassionate and open.

Zoe has been through cancer before, and when she was diagnosed this time, back in the fall, she felt very strongly that she did not wish to go through all the chemo, radiation and surgery that she had to endure through the last episode.  While it was a very hard decision to make and share with her loved ones, I recognized her unbelievable bravery in the face of this disease and in the face of all of the people who supporterd her but hoped she would take a different route.  She has made amazing strides in her journey, converting to a raw food diet, juicing, supplementing, reiki, acupuncture, biofeedback and more…  and what is most amazing is that she has done this all through the support of loved ones and even strangers.  Zoe works for herself and did not have the money to do this on her own, but through fundraising and the immense generosity of everyone from her neighbors to her healers, she has been able to make this journey.

Zoe’s story embodies two tenets of buddhist thought that I hold dear to my heart:  compassion and interdependence.  Nothing, NOTHING, not one thing can exist independently on its own in this unvierse.  We cannot experience our life in a vacuum, and our interdependence in life is part of what makes it so amazing and grand (and scary).  Without the support of others, we would not exist.  And without supporting others, we negate the natural flow of life.  This is the law of interdependence.  

Compassion can be a tricky word.  Sometimes it seems too touchy-feely.  Sometimes we cannot muster up any tenderness in the face of the horrible things that go on every day in our world, our country, our city, our block.  Yet compassion is innate within us, it is our basic nature.  When we know someone close to us who is suffering or we hear stories about people like Zoe, it touches our heart.  It awakens this innate capacity for fearlessness and love and draws it up from within us like water from a deep cool well.  

Zoe’s journey to heal herself through diet and natural medicine has been supported through the interdependence of her many friends and loved ones, and those inspired by her story.  The compassion of many has united for the cause of one.  This moment is the perfect one to draw up from your well and engage with your life in a way that honors these tenets of compassion and interdependence.  I invite you to help me in my pledge drive, matching Zoe’s courage and absolute love of life with your own.  Care to join?  Now is the time.

 I’ll finish with a quote from one of my favorite authors and Buddhist teachers, Pema Chodron. 

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”

(this was excerpted from my newsletter.  if you’d like to read more, please click here.)