Monday, February 22, 2010

Death Will Come Knocking, So How Shall We Live?

With all the dire situations facing us, I'm in the camp that believes we're about to face a massive human die-off. The earth can't sustain the numbers we have, particularly at our destructive level of consumption, so she'll restore balance--at the expense of many individual lives. If it happens or starts to happen this century, do you believe your life be spared? Will you be among the chosen few?

I think we all tend to believe, automatically, that catastrophe will only strike someone else. We're so geared for survival we think we're invincible, so while we may accept there will be a massive die-off, we just assume we won't be among the dead. That's awfully presumptuous of us, isn't it?

I decided a long time ago, when I first looked at this issue, that my survival just doesn't even matter. I guess I've always been able to see the bigger picture--that we're all part of a process of creation and unfolding, that consciousness is a collective phenomenon. My individual life doesn't matter except for the fact that it's part of an unfolding, evolving pattern. I participate in that process while I'm here in this particular form and then I surrender gracefully. When my life ends the process of creation continues. All of the elements of my body get returned to the larger community and continue to participate in the process of unfolding. Beyond the physical aspects of it, I believe that energetically I go on as well. Not me in this persona, but me nonetheless. Does it matter how long I wear this particular persona, this cloak that is and isn't me? Why is 78 years preferable to 40 years if I'm indestructible anyway? Why cling to this form so desperately when I know it's ephemeral--a blossoming forth from the greater matrix which is here today and gone tomorrow? The question is really, how do we live knowing that we'll die?

This past week I've had to come face to face with the issue of my own mortality. Fourteen years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, I was diagnosed with a congenital defect of the aortic valve, what's called a bicuspid valve. A normal aorta has a three-leafed or tricuspid valve and those flaps open and close to let the blood through. A bicuspid valve has only two flaps, creating more of a slit instead. I was told at the time that this wouldn't become an issue until old age, when in all likelihood I'd have to have the valve replaced because of a greater chance of calcification. But lately I've had more and more serious heart-related symptoms, so I figured it was time to do some research. Apparently, since '96 they've learned a lot more about this. It's not just a defect of the aortic valve, but a whole connective tissue disorder that affects many parts of the body. People with the disorder typically have hyper-flexible joints, flat feet, scoliosis, issues with the spinal discs, an increased risk of hernias and a host of other problems. The most serious issue is a weakness of the aorta and the arteries of the head (they form from the same tissue) leading to a high risk of aneurysms and dissections. If you remember a few years back, this is what caused the death of actor John Ritter. And then also, there's an increased likelihood of damage to the heart itself.

I had decided years ago that I would forgo the valve surgery, for a host of reasons. For one I just despise hospitals. I would rather live fully out here and drop dead then spend any amount of time in there. Another thing is that I have no desire to be dependent on medications for the rest of my life. But beyond those reasons, I just frankly don't believe we should be going to crazy measures to extend human life. This isn't a belief I would ever impose on anyone else, but it's something I hold to sincerely. We've gone about eradicating all the ways that Mother Nature can control population growth. I was born with a genetic defect--how more clearly could Mother Nature speak? She was gracious enough to allow me to reproduce, but now she's saying, clear out. I designed your body to wear out early, now move along, transform into something else. And I accept that totally.

Knowing that you will die--and I mean knowing it--is an enormous gift. If you know you will die then you can really live. You've got absolutely nothing to lose, so anything becomes possible. There's nothing to fear and nothing to lose, so you can live radically. Shouldn't we all be living that way? Shouldn't we all step out of our little personae and live largely? When you accept your own mortality, then you open up a world of possibilities for how to live. In these times, if more and more of us could get to that point of acceptance, I think we could transform the world. We'd be setting our egos and personae aside and acting from a higher place. We could reshape human culture and help to return the earth to balance.