Friday, January 6, 2012

"Rotting sacks of meat"

G sometimes jokes that we are all just "rotting sacks of meat."  On the surface, it's an amusing thought.  But the underlying message is that the body is in a state of decay.  We can slow the decay down, but we can't stop it entirely.  Eventually, we all pass beyond this world.

I can't help but think of this morbid subject tonight as I sit next to my husband and listen to him have a conversation with his dying friend, D.  D was diagnosed with an inoperable and aggressive form of stomach cancer a few years ago.  He was in his 60s and was told that he would only have a few months to live.  He went to see a different doctor with a more encouraging approach.  This doctor taught D how to manage his cancer through an integrative approach using the traditional chemo but also certain herbs and fish oils.  For a few years this method worked very well for D.

Then, a few months ago, he began to start feeling more and more discomfort.  Little by little, he has been able to ingest any food, not even the diet prescribed by his more holistic doctor.  He recently visited a doctor who basically told him that the end was near and he needs to get his affairs in order.

And so, he is now on the phone with my husband making arrangements for his cat, his books, etc. 

I can't imagine what it is like to look your own inevitable demise in the face and begin to tidy up your decades of life.  Many people don't have the opportunity to do this.  And so it is a unique perspective.  The cliche says to "live every day as if it were your last."  I hate cliches, this one in particular.

If you were truly to live every day as if it were your last, you would probably be spending it more like D.  You would be suffering as your body disintegrated, putting your affairs in order, and helping the living to deal with the artifacts of your life.  Living every day as if it were your last would be a horrible state to be in. 

And then you disappear.  That's it, the end.  My guess is that your energy is absorbed back into the universe, that complicated concept of purusa and prikriti.  I have a very pedestrian understanding of the complex idea of string theory.  But to me, relatively speaking, it must be similar to that.  We must all be like little tiny "strings", imperceptible in the grand scheme of things, but also integral and connected in a way that makes the whole universe work. 

So, we practice the yoga, in part, to come more into harmony with the universe, to be more comfortable in and less attached to our rotting sacks of meat for the relatively short time that we inhabit them. 

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