Out of the blue
and into the black
They give you this,
but you pay for that
And once you’re gone,
you can never come back
When you’re out of the blue
and into the black. -“Out Of The Blue”,Neil Young
It’s almost two weeks since I was discharged from the Intensive Care unit of my local VA hospital after a diagnosis of acute COPD and asked to sign a paper about whether I wanted extreme measures taken to save my life if necessary. Ironic in the sense that it was in the service where my nicotine addiction started (“smoke ’em if you got them” was the ‘parade rest’ injunction during basic and afterwards). So now I’m on oxygen via generator
in my house and by tank when doing grocery shopping,etc. when out of the house. And using a CPAP when sleeping as the hospital staff observed a bad case of obstructive sleep apnea during my stay.
And I remember waking one morning as the sun was coming up over the mountains that I could see through the window in my room and thinking that it might be the last time I saw the beautiful sunrise. And the only feeling I had was of sadness; no fear or anger or frustration. The actual experience of feeling one’s mortality does make a difference in one’s approach to being alive. Of course I never imagined living to 65 nor being hospitalized. As a friend of mine and I were remembering today, we were of the generation that had the saying ‘don’t trust anyone over the age of 30’. And the way I had lived my life (better to burn out than fade away), I really never thought I’d make it past 50. But 50 came and went and then 60 came and went.
The ‘good news’ is finally having the ability to resist the one drug my spirit couldn’t kill -nicotine- and that the oxygen supply people think I could be off the oxygen in about 6 months if I follow through on my therapy (part of which is learning to breathe from an abdomen basis, not a chest basis; again, the irony is that doing such is what is inherent in differing forms of meditation and the one area of meditation that I never gained somewhat of a proficiency at).
So overall, I’m doing well given the circumstances and damn well given that I was born a white male into this society that favors such skin color and sex. And have the VA for healthcare as I can’t afford the cost of Medicare and get $70 too much from SS for Medicaid to pay for the Medicare premium. And unlike the twenty-three million Americans who do not live within a mile of a place to get fresh fruits and vegetables., I’ve 5 different grocery stores within a mile of where I live where I can buy fresh fruit fruit and vegetables.
But the experience -being hospitalized and near death-has motivated me to clarify for Larue, Robert(RAD), and others about meditation, forgiveness, and generally where I’m ‘coming from’ in comments I make such as in this thread and this thread . Expectantly, the following will clarify for others such comments.
First, as towards the ‘state of the world’; I agree with Joseph Campbell when he wrote/said:
“The world is perfect. It’s a mess.
It has always been a mess.
We are not going to change it.
Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”
“People ask me, “Do you have optimism about the world, about how terrible it is?” And I say, “Yes, it’s great the way it is” … I had the wonderful privilege of sitting face to face with [a Hindu guru] and the first thing he said to me was “Do you have a question?”, cause the teacher always answers questions… I said, “Yes, I have a question.” I said, ” Since in Hindu thinking all the universe is divine, a manifestation of divinity itself, how can we say no to anything in the world? How can we say no to brutality to stupidity to vulgarity to thoughtlessness?” And he said, “For you and me, you must say yes.” Well, I learned from my friends who were students of his that that happened to be the first question he asked his guru, and we had a wonderful conversation for an hour there.”
(If a lot of this diary seems a paean to Joseph Campbell,so be it as he was someone very worthy of a paean. And this insight of his, “Our own western subjugation of the female comes from biblical thinking” , imnsho, goes a LONG way in explaining where the right wingnuts are coming from. Further explanation:”…a mythology is a control system, on the one hand framing its community to accord with an intuited order of nature and, on the other hand, by means of its symbolic pedagogic rites, conducting individuals through the ineluctable psychophysiological stages of transformation of a human lifetime – birth, childhood and adolescence, age, old age, and the release of death – in unbroken accord simultaneously with the requirements of this world and the rapture of participation in a manner of being beyond time.”- Joseph Campbell)
Co-incident with that perspsective is this story of the wise chinese farmer who horse ran off: “When his neighbor came to console him the farmer said, “Who knows what’s good or bad?”
When his horse returned the next day with a herd of horses following her, the foolish neighbor came to congratulate him on his good fortune. “Who knows what is good or bad?, said the farmer.
Then, when the farmers son broke his leg trying to ride one of the new horses, the neighbor came to console the farmer again. “Who knows what is good or bad?, said the farmer.
When the army passed through, conscripting men for war, they passed over the farmers son because of his broken leg. When the foolish neighbor came to congratulate the farmer that his son would be spared, again the farmer said ” “Who knows what is good or bad?”
When do we expect the story to end?”
Now knowing that good and bad aren’t absolutes but beliefs,judgments, ideas based on limited knowledge as well as the inclinations of our minds is all well and good and ,afaic, especially when I view the creative destruction of the universe, accurate in analysis. BUT I haven’t ‘mastered’ such a viewpoint though I try to honor it. So what do I do to reflect the beliefs,judgments, ideas based on limited knowledge and inclinations of my mind when confronted with the lack of caring, imbalance in relationships between peoples and nations, corruption of differing sorts, and on and on that are so evident to anyone not making like an ostrich(who actually don’t stick their heads into the sand)?
Well, back to Joseph Campbell. “There’s a wonderful formula that the Buddhists have for the Bodhisattva, the one whose being (sattva) is illumination (bodhi), who realizes his identity with eternity and at the same time his participation in time. And the attitude is not to withdraw from the world when you realize how horrible it is, but to realize that this horror is simply the foreground of a wonder and to come back and participate in it. “All life is sorrowful” is the first Buddhist saying, and it is. It wouldn’t be life if there were not temporality involved which is sorrow. Loss, loss, loss.
Moyers: That’s a pessimistic note.
Campbell: Well, you have to say yes to it, you have to say it’s great this way. It’s the way God (God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It’s as simple as that.- Joseph Campbell) intended it.”
And being satisfied with being a ‘teaspoon of sand’ as Pete Seeger describes here aids in such participation.
We’re in a freefall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes. And that’s the ‘movement’, afaic, Larue, that I speak of.
Is the system going to flatten you out and deny you your humanity, or are you going to be able to make use of the system to the attainment of human purposes? -Joseph Campbell
The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.- Joseph Campbell