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October 4, 2011

Hello everyone. I’ve been out of touch for a bit. Last Tuesday I had one and a half liters of fluid taken off my right lung … which was not an enjoyable experience by the way. I thought it would be a piece of cake, since I had about 700 ml taken off soon after my diagnosis, which did go quite easily. But for some reason this was different. I suppose things in there had become accustomed over time to the new places in their fleshy universe and the sudden shift was not appreciated. I don’t know the details because I have no visual aids … I can only feel; and I wasn’t feeling good. Which I guess brings me to the point of this post. Transcendence!

Yep, that old 13 letter word we mull over every waking hour of our day … right?

There is a parable I heard once years ago that I will try and create the gist of here (any of you who are familiar with this morality tale, please bear with me … I have no memory for details). A very enlightened man was being chased through the woods by a large and hungry lion. Suddenly the man came upon a cliff but before he could stop himself, he fell over. An instant later the man found himself hanging onto a tree root that was growing out of the side of the cliff, and thought he was saved; the shallow pond below would probably cushion his fall just enough for him to survive. However, looking down he noticed a large crocodile staring up at him with hungry eyes and gaping mouth. Looking up he saw the snarling lion just biding his time. In the same moment he felt the snap of the root beginning to break from the strain. The man pondered his hopeless predicament for a moment and then noticed a strawberry plant growing on the cliff wall, with a single, little ripe strawberry attached. The man picked the strawberry and put it into his mouth and tasted the thousands of organic chemicals and hormones developed over millions of years working together in perfect harmony to produce the sweet/sour ambrosia that is the strawberry; and the man felt only joy.

Now that’s transcendence!

Now, I want to make it clear that I have not attained anything near this level of presence. In fact, I am still rather handicapped in that area. When I feel pain or discomfort, for example, I find myself fairly anchored to my complaining body and it is difficult to rise above it. So explains my little absence from this blog. In any event I doubt the accuracy of this tale is as important as the message, one which has been important in my life: being in the moment. I know I have mentioned this numerous times in my posts, but it has been such an important part of my spiritual life that I just can’t avoid it.

So, I’m a big baby when it comes to suffering and, while not proud of it, I am happy to be a part of most of the rest of humanity.  We feel pain and suffering, but we also feel joy, and compassion. Without our own pain, where would we find empathy? Without suffering how would we know joy?

So the last few days I felt joy because for a few hours I transcended my pain. I was cheating to attain this, I admit, because a new pain med finally gave me some relief and I could comfortably sit out in the yard and soak up the glorious sun and listen to the myriad of sounds of life all around me, and notice for the first time (with the sun as a backlight) that every square foot of grassy ground is criss-crossed with thin translucent spider bridges … some of them being whisked upon the fall breezes to shine luminous wisps in the clear blue sky.

I was in the moment again … but not with my pain, only with that beauty. I realize it’s there all the time, but I get preoccupied … these days by pain and discomfort, but before this by something … always something. Bummer!

But the good news is that I’m still here. The education of Rick LaMartina is not yet over. I may not be able to transcend my pain and suffering yet, but I’m working on it … or at least working on more presence. And it probably only means I haven’t yet learned to feel enough compassion and empathy for others’ pain and suffering … so I guess this opportunity is a positive one overall. I may be an idiot to believe this, but I do think that this may -in fact- be true!

So, no worries, I still have time … there is always time … I’ll try and use it wisely.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jo Stothard permalink
    October 11, 2011 12:54 pm

    Have been thinking of you………..hope you are having a better week!

  2. Mokasiya permalink
    October 7, 2011 10:44 pm

    Enjoy the strawberry
    transcendence in the heart,

  3. Lauren permalink
    October 5, 2011 12:14 pm

    thanks for that song Charlene: beautiful.
    glad to hear your updates Rick, you are in my thoughts every day.

  4. October 4, 2011 8:04 pm

    You sure are getting a crash course on letting go and staying present — but you have been in training for a long time. It is one thing to say that suffering is optional, quite another to actually experience that, and I will admit when I have pain that I can’t ignore then I also can’t be present, or at least i have not been able to for more than a few seconds. This is where your years of mediation will serve you. It’s a good reminder for the rest of us to practice.

    We sure are having a beautiful sunny warm week full of the sights, sounds and smells of autumn. I have been soaking it all in, it changes so fast, that if you don’t pay attention, you miss it! Glad you are able to be outside, soaking it up, too.

    Here’s a song for you.

  5. October 4, 2011 12:48 pm

    Ah, what a great reminder for me (and, presumably, all of us!) Being in the moment; it is like a “new Age’ mantra, but it is SO true!

    Suffering comes from my mind; it is optional. Pain is not optional. And we all experience that. I so appreciate your perspective on your “predicament”, Rick; yes, you are still here and I delight in that. Who knows what the future will bring? Right now, in this present moment, you are here and I am deeply thankful for that gift.

    Much love, David

  6. Laurie B permalink
    October 4, 2011 11:15 am

    So very sorry for the pain, Rick. I don’t believe there is any ‘higher reason or lesson’ for suffering. It just is the flip side of the being able to have pleasurable feelings in our nerve endings…just a part of physiology. Good pain meds are the gift! And so is that sunshine…! Thinking of you – holding you in the light of that sun.

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