It is difficult to make sense of the carnage inflicted on the minds and bodies of so many people in the wake of the recent shooting on the Danforth near my office. Thank you to the many who emailed to make sure that I was not harmed. As a result of this incident, will I withdraw from the world to stay safely out of harm’s way? Certainly not! If anything, I determine to engage life more fully rather than hide from it.
Here is my reasoning:
At the tender age of 68, I try to celebrate every day as if it might be my last. I try to express gratitude for all the good things I have in my life. For the many who have read the previous blogs on this website, I have referred several times to a book I love entitled A year to live by Stephen Levine. What would you do if you had only one year to live? From that question, you should then ask yourself why aren’t you doing that now? Don’t wait for the perfect time because that moment may never arrive.
So if something is really important to me, I don’t wait. A week ago I was visiting a close friend outside of Kingston who has been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. At 2.00 a.m. one morning she called out to ask whether I was awake. She wanted to share with me the beauty of the sky that at that moment showed a full constellation of stars. Certainly an experience worth waking up for. The things we often take for granted are precious and if it takes ‘misfortune’ to comprehend this, then the pain we suffer from time to time is not for naught.
I have taken time off from my clinical practice to walk the Camino through Spain three times. I do these things because they are important: it is rejuvenating and brings me personally to a place of healing. My regular use of yoga and meditation are also important. I’m not holding impossible postures but doing simple things like breathing, gentle stretches and self-acceptance. I need to do these for myself because they are restorative. In my book, My Camino Walk - A Way to Healing (IslandCatEditions), I draw the analogy of the plane oxygen masks that descend in the event of an emergency. One is advised to put on one’s own mask before helping a small child. One cannot give if one is unconscious. Similarly, in my clinical practice, I need time to restore so that I can give back more fully from a position of completeness.
I will continue to embrace life. It’s part of my journey and should be part of yours.