One Year To Live: A Dusting of Despair

Well This Is a Surprise!  Here I am, only 2 weeks until the end of my One Year Experiment and I wake up in a dust moat of despair. As a kaleidoscope of possible dyings circled my inner sight, the theater of all the dyings I’d seen was playing in the background.  Who asked for this?  In my pride, I’d assumed I was immune.  After all, I’ve Kaleidoscope of Lifebeen doing the work of trying to live intimately with Death.  We’re playing Bocce Ball and watching movies together.  But wait. This is Death . This is Death and We’re not afraid of Death.   Fortunately, all of my practicing was what made it possible for me to Notice the feeling of despair, and it’s where I learned that I didn’t have to grab it and make it mine. And so the feeling passed.  But I was curious and so, I let the events of the past day or so play through the theater of my mind, and I think it started when I clicked on an article about ‘why we need God’.  Yes, God was capitalized.

There Is No Good Without God

That is the contention of the writer.  Without God there would be no reason to behave well.  I happen to believe, built from my experiences and the meanings I’ve added, that it doesn’t matter a Twinkie whether God exists, or not.  The capacity for goodness is as real as the capacity for not-goodness. No?  If there were no God, why would there be more not-goodness?  Or, if God exists, why isn’t there less not-goodness than there is?  So what does it matter?  Churches espouse the existence of God and there’s plenty of not-good still floating within.  Atheists eschew the same, and there are plenty of Atheist do-gooders.   End-of-Story that planted that stupid seed of despair.

Visiting Little Me

I love hearing people’s stories.  One thing I’ve noticed is that almost all the grown-ups start their stories around the time of their ‘coming of age’.  From my own story I can understand why.  With my very first job, surrounded by all these people who had never met me before, I was no longer ‘s0-an-so’s’ daughter; I was the new waitress.  I hardly ever looked back.  Until I started looking for understanding within all the wonders I’d had, and then I looked back often.   As Richard Bach says in his Running From Saferty  “So little of my childhood I remembered, and Dickie holds it all.  My motives and values sprang every one from roots in his daily life. If I found a way to reach him, I might learn a lot myself.”

The Practice

  1. You have to promise yourself that you will be light-hearted, filled with loving kindness; and that you won’t pick and choose, nor admit or reject the image(s) you observe.
  2. Only after you promise may you get ready to relax and close your eyes.  Just as you close your eyes ask “May I see you _____?” and use your childhood name.
  3. Relax, and focus on your breath….Close your eyes….”May I see you ____?”
  4. Now watch, as you’d watch a movie.  Notice your emotions, and the thoughts passing through.  What’s the first image you see? What are you wearing? What is your childhood expression saying?
  5. Stay with it as long as is right for you, and come back to now awareness slowly.  Then let yourself become more aware of what you noticed.

What I Noticed

I noticed that I love that little girl.  She is a cutie-pie.  Her eyes so bright and full of excitement. And I watched her through many experiences, and I even saw through her eyes, sometimes.  There was joy and there was fear; confidence and trepidation; loss; birthday parties. It was all there.  Most of all, I watched how my little girl learned about the world, and what she learned.  Try to understand HOW MANY THINGS a 5-yr old is learning everyday.  And it was delightful.  Not without it’s moments of pain and sorrow, but I know how the story ends.  There were many values and beliefs built during that time.  And there are many more since then that have required revision if not out-right tossing.  Some of the beliefs were simply not helpful: i’m a bad person; i don’t deserve a new dress; school is a good place; lots and lots of boys and men expose themselves all the time, etc.  Some more important than others. Was there suffering?  As children, we were always facing the new.  When did you feel fear, or insecurity? … Try it.  It’s a great exercise, strongly encouraged.

That Darned Despair

It took the time it took for me to walk from my bedroom to the kitchen when I noticed the tiny clench in the gut.  The body’s clench alerting to a fear.  Feeling up to the heart then fear into the head.  Well I’ll be dipped!  I was fearing being totally dependent on others. Fearing the turmoil I’ve seen in so many families regarding ‘care-giving’.  And I remembered recent phone calls and Facetimes with our children and grandchildren, and that they are all fine.  And I remembered feeling so comforted that they didn’t need me anymore.  They liked having us around but they are all living their own lives well, and that’s a good thing in my book.  And that darned despair just floated right away.

How About The Fear

I may have to remind myself again, and again, but seeing how our children, and myself as a child, faced many fears – of the known and the unknown, and have come through with fuller and more generous lives than had we not faced those fears.  So the next time I see this fear of being totally dependent on others, I will remember that I already won this battle.  Now I can work on being a gracious receiver, when my time comes.


If there are children in your life, please, please remember that they are learning from us.  Let us be good examples.