“How many people have you heard about who returned from what is called a near-death experience, having gone toward an amazing light that they said was Jesus, Buddha, Pearly Gates, but never realized that they themselves were that pure light?”
–Stephen Levine, from A Year to Live
Keeping track of my age was never very important to me, and once I reached 50, as I’ve mentioned, the only function it seemed to serve was to remind me that I was growing old.
Oh, the decade milestones seemed momentous enough to warrant a special celebration, but my 54th birthday, for instance, was a good candidate for skipping any kind of acknowledgement whatsoever.
- July 13, 2018: I’m diagnosed with ALS.
- August 28, 2018: My 54th birthday.
- September 1, 2018: Party for my birthday, AND bon voyage for…
- September 27, 2018: 20-year old son, Julian, scheduled to fly to Japan for 6-month visit.
There was a lot of light the day of the party. It was gloriously sunny beneath a cloudless sky, with the French doors opened guests could seamlessly move between indoors and out, and with all of the windows we added during the remodel, and with the walls we removed to create an open floor plan, there was nearly as much sunlight inside as out.
I was mingling through, when I was stopped by my friends Tom & Nicole, aglow and eager to give me something. Tom handed me a small gift, and I opened it. It was a sweet little bracelet with a piece of ceramic stamped with one word:
Tom, with a glint in his eyes, looked me in mine and said, “Because you do.”
You know, if ever there was a time when it should, by some system of justice, get easier to discover, to experience, to believe that humans have a light within them, that we’ve been wasting a lot of time and energy chasing lights — love, lessons, accomplishments, rewards, etc. — outside of ourselves, and that simply exchanging the external search for an internal one can lead to peace, contentment, equanimity…well, upon being diagnosed with a terminal illness, especially something like ALS, which greatly restricts ones ability to physically engage in that external search, yeah, that would be a good time.
Otherwise, we may end up learning the hard way that some of those external lights we long for can be extremely dangerous.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel now
Someone please tell me it’s not a train.
–Cracker, from their song I See The Light