9. Dive Deeply into the Miracle of Life

Dive deeply into the miracle of life
and let the tips of your wings be burnt by the flame,
let your feet be lacerated by the thorns,
let your heart be stirred by human emotion,
and let your soul be lifted beyond the earth.
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan Call of the Dervish
(With thanks to Judy Hall for bringing him to my attention)
see my Book Blog for more info

Quick update on the physical stuff before we move on – my blood count is through the roof, apparently better than a lot of ‘healthy’ people which is excellent news. This is of course all to do with the cell-boosting injections and nothing whatsoever to do with all the wheatgrass protein, Vit A, Vit D3, Flaxseed oil, Echinacea, Whey protein isolate, pomegranate and vegetable juices I have been pouring down my throat, and the stupendous amount of healing that is being sent to me. It is such a shame that key people within the NHS seem unable to embrace anything that isn’t included in a scientific study. If I hear the phrase ‘science doesn’t support it’ one more time I am really going to be tempted…… Anyway, I’m free to contemplate my navel for another week then I’m in next Thursday for at least 4 days for Cycle 2, which should be plenty of time to catch you all up on Dot, who gave me a big cheery smile yesterday when I told her I was back in next week. Bless her.

And contemplating my navel is exactly what I have already been doing for several days, starting properly with last Sunday which was definitely the worst day so far. I have been exchanging emails with my dear friend Judy Hall on a wide range of subjects whose common link was the ability to accept, or otherwise, what is going on at the moment, and at her suggestion I’m bringing some of them into the blog so I can think them through in public. I know that sounds weird, but it really helps me – it really is cathartic so thank you for bearing with me.

There are several conflicting trains of thought going on in my head:

1. Interlife planning – Stephen and I planned all this before this reincarnation so that I/we could have a particular experience.

2. Acceptance or surrender to the illness and whatever it is going to teach me/us.

3. Cosmic Ordering. I somehow created this and so with a bit of positive thinking I can get myself out of it.

I fully embrace the belief that we have been here before, and that when we come back we do so to gain particular experiences. Anyone who has read Judy’s lovely books ‘The Soulmate Myth’ and ‘The Book of Why’ will know from mine and Stephen’s story that we feel we have been together for many lifetimes, along with many other case histories in the books. (See Book Blog for info)What I struggle to understand is why, in a life that has already included more than its fair share of death and grief I apparently thought it would be a good idea to experience a life-threatening illness, just when things seemed to be going well. The whole concept of life after death is usually one that comforts me, but I feel positively grumpy (in my darker moments) that I now have to summon the energy to deal with this massive thing that has come crashing into our lives. I was looking forward to sunny cruises of increasing length, driving in a casual fashion most of the way around the UK to see all the places we have never visited, nice stuff like that. Before you all scream at me that I still can, and that I need to have positive goals for after I am better, yes I know all that. And I do. But in the darkest hours before dawn there’s a part of me that is like a petulant and very upset child, shouting ‘BUT I DON’T WANT TO DO THE BIT IN-BETWEEN!’ And looking forward to a lovely holiday has a completely different feel to it when you insert 5 months of unpleasant treatment in front of it, trust me.

But I have no choice, as I have said before, I can’t just call Ward 11 and say that I’m not going to play any more. ‘Um, Hi, yes it’s Margaret Cahill. This is just to let you know I’m not taking you up on your offer of treatment after all because it is really going to make me feel awful’. Well I could, but that would be stupid in the extreme. It is hard enough to get into remission with this cancer even with the treatment so there is no way I am refusing it. I have no doubt that the reason for having to go through all this will become obvious to me – and this does in fact give me comfort, although that won’t be obvious from the above. To feel that I am treading a path that has spiritual intention gives me focus and a feeling that I am not alone. Someone, somewhere presumably has the original plan…..

Which brings me on to acceptance, which is a word I think is bandied around far too lightly. It is a very simple word with a huge amount of clout behind it. Accepting seems to me to be a very passive state, which doesn’t sit at all well with my cardinality. Taking what comes with non-judgement, being at peace with events beyond your control, staying calm and focussed in the face of adversity. Loving kindness. It all sounds totally brilliant until you are faced with a non-negotiable situation, then you realise that to survive this you HAVE to accept it. So acceptance isn’t a voluntary decision, it is a coping mechanism that the majority of us probably haven’t had to use very much. It is submission on a grand scale to forces way beyond our control, as a means of staying sane. That is the bit that gives my inner child the grief, which is on its own something to explore. Hmmm.
When I think about surrender it reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago with Swamiji. I was asking for her help with a mantra that I wanted to use to help me meditate – a little phrase that I could use to give my brain something to do to keep it out of mischief. I was working on something to do with giving everything that I was/am/will be back to God – to become an empty vessel that could wait quietly for direction. She pointed out that whatever it was I thought I was giving back wasn’t actually mine to give in the first place – what we agreed on, and what felt right, was that I was surrendering everything willingly, and it is a concept that has drawn me ever since. There is something that works for me in the act of surrendering that doesn’t, yet, in acceptance. Acceptance brings out the sulky, ‘No don’t want to’, inner child, whereas surrendering is still difficult but somehow I feel am being allowed to make that decision myself. As you can see, I still have a long way to go with this, and the idea of surrendering to the cancer sounds weird. I can theoretically accept cancer but I can’t surrender to it as that has connotations of giving up. I can, however surrender my current situation and give up the idea that I have any power over its outcome. That little sentence is going to provoke a few comments!

Which brings me nicely to the idea of Cosmic Ordering. I would like to say, first off, that many decades ago I was involved for a (very) short time with Amway. Now everybody knows about network marketing and how bad it is, blah, blah, blah, so we’re not going down that route at all. What I do want to point out is that their personal development programmes were second to none, and through them I was introduced to the power of Positive Thinking. For that I am very grateful. This was a Very Long Time before the New Age movement hijacked it and cosmic ordering became the buzzword for having a successful life. I would say that having a positive attitude is incredibly important and I would like to think that I am usually in possession of one (Dark Nights of the Soul excepted), and that it has indeed helped me through some very difficult times. My mother used creative visualisation to help her survive breast cancer for much longer than expected – without any treatment whatsoever – and it figures very strongly in my own meditations. Something has to give the chemo soldiers direction!

I think the danger with taking this concept too far is that it is very obvious if you fail, which is a very heavy burden especially with illness, and for the person who is sick. Quite apart from the shock of an unpleasant diagnosis it is almost too much to take on board that I could have caused this because my thinking was wrong. If we all had our thinking straight everyone would live forever. Nobody lives forever, so excuse me, but isn’t there an obvious flaw here? How can we be vigilant on all fronts so nothing bad sneaks in? And how can we continually programme our thoughts so they only bring good? We can’t. Let me give you an example of how this can go very wrong, and how you can actually start worrying what you think about. A while ago I heard a rich rock star saying that the best thing about having money was that he was able to put his family through regular MRI scans – a potential problem had already been picked up and he was incredibly grateful to have had that early warning. Great idea, I thought. I added that to my list too. First thing I had after the diagnosis was an MRI scan. I have long wanted to write but never had a subject and certainly never had the time. Look at me now. Working part time with long periods of enforced seclusion due to treatment. Lots of time to write. I could go on, but I am sure you can see where I am headed. I shared this (and many other very recent examples of ‘be careful what you wish for’) with Swamiji as I was genuinely starting to worry that I was indeed creating my own reality in completely the wrong way. She has these wise words:

…”In the Yoga Vasishtha the great sage Vasishtha tells his disciple Rama in no uncertain terms ‘whether enlightened or still in darkness, our own mortality sets fear in us’. One of the ways the New Age movement masks this fear is with the belief that if we can just get our thinking right we will be able to get everything right – transcend our illnesses, our failures, our difficulties. In other words, we have a means of control. And if we don’t transcend these things it’s not this theory that’s wrong, but rather we hadn’t got our thinking ‘right’. This does seem to me very much like blaming the victim. Life is full of challenges and no matter how ‘right’ we think, we WILL lose some of these battles, and at our end, we lose the fight we make for life. Not because we got something wrong but because that is the nature of life itself. Not that we have no responsibility. Indeed, we must get our thinking right. We must get our diet, our exercise, our attitude – right. And we must fight every day to do this knowing that we may win the battle today, but we will definitely lose it tomorrow……”

So there we have it. To someone who will only see blessings not problems, or who is accustomed to ‘ordering’ what they want the universe to bring them, this is probably an absolute travesty, but I find it quite helpful. In a perverse way I am almost enjoying the opportunity to plumb the depths of my soul. I am equally sure that both for Stephen and I there are hidden gifts along this difficult path if we only have the courage to seek them out.

I leave you with something more from Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan:

…”There is a need to dance the cosmic joy of Shiva. Yet we seem to have cut the possibility of doing it out of our lives and to have fed ourselves with ersatz pleasures. We sacrifice joy for pleasure and try to entertain ourselves with very puny things indeed – things that are really very soul-killing. The real breakthrough of joy only happens when we are moved to the core of our being – when we are shattered by our encounter with meaningfulness…”

Thank you for sharing this time with me. Be well.

Margaret xx

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About Margaret Cahill

After diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma in 2013, I started this blog to stay in touch with friends, family, and and an ever increasing network of lovely people who sent me healing. The readership increased and I ended up blogging for all I was worth to try and stay sane through the chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Then after I went into remission (thankfully) I was enjoying the writing so much that I have carried on, and the blog seems to have become a bit of a resource for people, which is lovely. The original year of blogs have now been made into a book, Under Cover of Darkness: How I Blogged my Way Through Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It fills in a lot of the gaps between the blogs, and the tone falls somewhere between graveyard humour and explicit details of chemo treatments. I do hope you enjoy it :-) Mxx
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13 Responses to 9. Dive Deeply into the Miracle of Life

  1. Kris Brandt Riske says:

    Wonderful, thoughtful, insightful! Thanks for sharing and for giving all of us much to ponder as we wish you well and on to new adventures on the other side of five months. xo

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  2. Komilla Sutton says:

    brave and philosophical\
    thinking of you in India

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  3. Barnaby Roberts says:

    Amazing! :)

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  4. Judy says:

    Dearest Margaret – this has kind of turned into a blog entry of its own but I thought people who hadn’t explored the idea of soul plans might find it thought provoking.

    You mention The Book of Why and I have very fond memories of working on that book with you, the perceptive questions you asked and the insights you willingly offered up. You made me think. Just as your blog does now. I’ve been exploring people’s soul plans – as well as their karma which is different – for over forty five years and from our earthly perspective I don’t think we can ever know the whole breadth of ‘Why’. But of one thing I’m sure, this cancer is part of your soul plan not your karma. It is a means of growing your soul. One of the most important parts of growing your soul seems to be the compassionate witnessing of your own journey and that of others. That’s an opportunity you are giving those of us who read your words – and we’ll be less judgemental of the journey of another person because of it as you share your insights gained along the way. You are giving all of us who read your words an invaluable gift – and an insight into what you and your higher self – and Stephen – planned for this incarnation.
    I laughed when I reread Margaret Koolman’s words that I’d quoted to end ‘Why’: ‘when we are coming from the small self, we are like children rebelling against parents.’ I’m sure you’ll resonate with that! She suggests that ‘to shift what might be going on, you might like to try just sitting with the situation quietly accepting how it is – Saturn delivers the facts, it doesn’t require that you judge them or yourself. From that quiet place, choose what you will do, taking care not to judge your choice – just agree with yourself to follow through in order to experience the results of that. To be able to make a choice and follow through IS freedom.’ She was writing about the Saturn-Uranus opposition but it works just as well for higher-self v. small-self issues and it helps to find dynamic acceptance as well as surrender. To me, this is the point of soul evolution. This experience is giving you incredible soul growth. One thing is for sure, you’ll never again feel abandoned, for instance, not with 17,000 hits and counting on your blog! This seems appropriate to remind you of too:
    Now is there civil war within the soul:
    Resolve is thrust from off the sacred throne
    By clamorous Needs, and Pride the grand-vizier
    Makes humble compact, plays the supple part
    Of envoy and deft-tongued apologist
    For hungry rebels.
    Our deeds still travel with us from afar,
    And what we have been makes us what we are.
    Full souls are double mirrors, making still
    An endless vista of fair things before,
    Repeating things behind.
    Hath she her faults? I would you had them too.
    They are the fruity must of soundest wine;
    Or say, they are regenerating fire
    Such as hath turned the dense black element
    Into a crystal pathway for the sun.
    (George Eliot, Middlemarch)

    You are amazing, a truly beautiful soul that is being polished to perfection on your crystal road to the sun.
    Big hugs
    xxJ

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  5. rose says:

    your amazing!!x

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  6. Sue J says:

    Hello again Margaret, oh wonderful tangle of dendrites,
    Have just tuned in for another fix, and what a fix. I doubt too many could make something like this so… exciting. Of course i don’t want this life experience of yours for myself – you didn’t want it either -but the Magic and Majesty of your ‘presentation’ pulls me in, has me asking myself whether I would fly as you are flying. I’m grooved into that metaphor, still can’t think of any other to better describe what you are doing here. I don’t know how I would be, but what I’m reading could be enough stop my tedious long time habit of armchair pontification.
    Remarkably there is still so much energy in your writing so please don’t dissipate it even a little by responding to me.
    Very interested in your thoughts about acceptance, and surrender I was suddenly reminded of a lecture attended by Beau and I, given by Eva Schloss, Anne Frank’s childhood friend, who was with her in Auschwitz.. No pontification here. I shall quote Eva’s words. We were seated in the front row directly below Eva’s lectern. During questions from the floor, Beau, passionately moved by the story of Anne Frank asked ‘How did YOU keep going? How did you manage to survive?’.
    ‘Well’ said Eva leaning over her lectern to look at him directly ‘I can tell you. It wasn’t about bodies. We had no bodies. It was all about mind. My mother said that we must never give up and we didn’t!’
    I have always thought that was inspirational but reading your blog it occurs to me that energy, help beyond self, and timing also have their parts to play. You still have the mental energy, You are receiving help beyond your self, and despite the chaos that periodically crops up, the timing is working for you. Acceptance and Surrender surely can’t be words for you for now .
    Hang on – no; sorry; I can see I have hardly dented my resolve against pontification! But before I begin to work on that (again) I have something else to tell you. I was talking to a London friend about you and she told me that one of her friends (I believe her name is Margaret too) had a course of chemo four years ago after being diagnosed with mantle cell, the very same.
    ‘How is she now? How old is she?’ I asked
    ‘She’s in her 60s and she’s fine’
    ‘How do you know?’
    ‘She’s had her checkup – again no recurrence and she’s just got back from Holiday’
    ‘What does she do to keep herself healthy?.
    She walks a lot. Other than that and a positive attitude, I don’t really know what she does. She’s just fine.’
    Love Sue xxxxxx

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    • HI Sue,
      ‘Dendrites’ is my word of the day now! Your writing is so lovely, I really love reading your comments, and I couldn’t possibly not respond. I am heartened indeed to know that your friend’s friend is doing well. There are very few women around who have had MCL, so this is incredibly positive news, thank you. Now I’d better write another blog so I can read your reply :-)
      M xx

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      • Sue J says:

        Hello Margaret, as soon as I woke – very late (one has to sleep, sometime) – I faced the wonkiness of my dredgedoutofsleeptime logic. Even before I begin reading your No 9 again, I can already see how I was wrong, in that acceptance of and ‘surrendering to’ might ease your return journey to wellness. Interestingly I wasn’t happy with ‘surrendering’;I wanted the word ‘tolerating’, and had to keep fighting it off.
        ‘To tolerate’ is fundamentally pro-active, not a passive apology for a verb like, ‘to surrender’ – so that’s my bete noir then. God keep me from experiencing at first hand the strength of surrendering – but he won’t keep me from it will he….
        See what your inside-out-sharing does for your readers.
        Love Sue xxxx- and some love for Stephen too xxxx PS ‘I have hardly dented my resolve against pontification’ (post above ) is not saying what I wanted to say, but hopefully you knew what I meant. Thank you for your kind reply but this time NO REPLY. On with your blog!

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  7. Hi Margaret
    Love the hat!

    Judy has made me persevere and, hopefully, here I am after being unable to post. (I say hopefully as there was an advert for BT in the way on 1st Feb’s post! That’s why I’m on Thursdays!)

    What a fabulous and inspirational blog. I suppose we all think ‘How do people cope’ and ‘How would I cope?’ with a diagnosis of cancer. Then we push it as far away as possible and when it happens to someone we know we don’t know what to say.

    But now we can talk about it all, because we have learned from you. Your writing is wonderful, lucid and contemplative. Sharing your thoughts and your exploration of the whys, juxtaposed with the day-to-day practicalities and relationships, deserves a wide audience and it’s wonderful that it is being shared to widely.

    Get well
    Love and hugs
    Julie

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    • Hi Julie,
      Thank you so much both for your lovely comments and for persevering with the technology, which periodically drives me nuts too! Writing this blog feels very much like talking through problems with friends, and when people make the effort to reply it helps us to feel so much more connected to everyone.
      Big hugs
      Margaret

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  8. Caron Rogers says:

    And so on to February, I’m catching up, albeit slowly Cx

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