Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: Grace & Grit: A Book Report, plus other thoughts on dying and living

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Grace & Grit: A Book Report, plus other thoughts on dying and living

I finally finished Grace & Grit last evening, the moving account of a woman's death. The woman was married to one of the finest philosophers of our generation, Ken Wilber, and the struggle that they go through and ultimately, the merger they attain is astonishing to witness--almost 20 years later.

Wilber is renowned for his work in integrating religious philosophies into a singular philsophy of man and god. I love his work but to witness his transformation as he cares for his wife and to witness her transformation as she prepares for deatth, well, it's hard to speak to how moving it was.

For many years, my only philosophy for how to live was that I wanted a good death. I tried on the mantle of "it is a good day to die" but it never really rang as true. I've lost touch with that over the past couple of years. However, we do grow older as does our family and our friends. The other night I had a dream where George Jones appeared as 'the grim reaper', the 'angel of death' what have you...but I immediately knew why he was there.

Death was never hidden in my family. I sang in funerals from the time I was 10 and when it was spoken of, it was never in hushed tones, but rather in hallelujahs--I'm going home, type rhetoric. Nevertheless, when my grandmother died (my mother's mother), I believe she was afraid. My grandfather wasn't very lucid his last few months and then he fell over dead in the kitchen, so I imagine he didn't have time to experience much fear. (I still have a t-shirt we found of his that my grandmother had used as a dusting cloth and it smells like him--even today.) My other grandmother, my father's mother, was always an ornery thing and was a tough nut to crack. I wasn't around her very much in that final year when her cancer spread so quickly that by the time they diagnosed it, she was given only 6 months or so to live. But I remember hearing that my father was with her every evening until she succombed. I know she wasn't in pain--my father made sure of that. But fear? I'm not sure. I'm sure she went stoicly and quietly into that good night.

As to my own mortality, I still want a good death. But now I also want a good life. I no longer want to live in the kind of fear that keeps me from fully experiencing each moment. Fear of the other side--that constant play of polarity--never going on vacation because I fear the downside of coming home; never really trying anything because I'm afraid I'll fail; and other such nonsense. Because I know in my bones that if you live that way, you'll die that way--and I don't want that kind of death, or that kind of life. I actually want to go snorkeling every year if I can; I want to play tennis even though I'm not very good; I want to record some music so that people can finally stop saying, when are you going to record? I want all those things and more. As much as I believe that Taoist saying, May my wheels will rot off my wagon before I desire to know what's in greener pastures, I also want to no longer be afraid of life.

Ultimately it comes down to this breath, can I be with my Self with this breath, and this one, and this one. Ang Sang Wahe Guru--may every cell of my body vibrate with the Naam--the oneness with God.


At 7:37 PM, Blogger Shakti Kaur said...

I've just recently found my way to your blog through MrSiknet and have been enjoying reading about your journey. I'm just a couple of years older than you, but recently found my way to Sikhism and 3HO. Also single, your other post on Authentic Relationships was inspiring. I too found the book Grace & Grit to be so moving and my only wish would be to have such a love that they did and to be able to die with such courage and truth.

I also enjoy your references to popular culture (i.e. Sex and The City...I have marathon sessions via DVD whenever I'm stressed) especially since those of us outside of Espanola may think that there is a piousness that exists and excludes the "regular world". Keep it up! Wahe Guru!

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Prabhu Singh said...

They have 'Sex in the City' reruns on tv and I've seen a few episodes. It's so tantalizing and dramatic, yet at the same time it makes me sick to my stomach because it shows a celebration of neurosis. I saw an episode where there was a yoga teacher who practiced abstinence and I thought he was the character that had it most together. It saddens me that women live with that kind of nuerosis and further that our culture celebrates it and accepts it as normal. I think I may have written it here before that it seems our culture gives women the idea that they are empowered if they indulge in all the misbehaving that men do. Really being promiscuous leaves a woman with shattered emotions, a damaged aura, and it only benefits sex-crazed men.
Anyway, I went off topic because 'sex in the city' turns my stomach. Even though I've probably watched as many as 8 episodes - lol. (I've had an addictive personality towards T.V.)
About death, I want to die in service, on the metaphoric or the real battle field. As long as I'm on the front lines and fighting for justice, my immortal soul will be satisfied with this life. I'm just a soul having a human experience, if I don't experience righteous living I have denied my immortal soul.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa aka Chiara Huddleston said...

Thanks for writing Shakti--it's nice to know someone besides my parents and Prabhu are reading this blog-ha!

I'm glad you appreciate my popular culture slant....We're tantric right? Transforming it all.

I will admit though, Prabhu, that I had taken a hiatus from watching S&C for a while and the first time I watched an episode, I was shocked. It really is neurotic! But once I got past that, my hypnosis kicked in and I enjoyed my marathon neverthless. oh well.

I can definately see you and all of us dying on the proverbial battlefield--hopefully with smiles on our faces and not too much blood on our swords.

blessings to you both. sat nam. spkk


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