The First Gate

October 7, 2011 at 8:33 pm (Spiritual)

Living means hugs from Pooh

Del and Pooh at the Magic Kingdom

You wouldn’t ordinarily think of Disneyland as somewhere to have a great life revelation, but that’s exactly what happened to me.

We had planned the trip what seems like a lifetime ago, under very different circumstances. But because going to Disney World was on my bucket list, we adapted and stuck to the plan to go, even though I wasn’t in the best of health. It was trying at times, because I can only stand being in the parks about five hours at a maximum, which served as a reminder at how much stamina I have lost. I worried a lot that it was a waste of money since our experience was limited by my ability, but looking back I wouldn’t have changed anything. I had a lot of quality time with my spouse, which was very needed. I had time where I didn’t have to worry about anything but having a good time and enjoying what I could. We were able to be real shot-callers, so we changed plans to meet our needs.

Spiritually, I face a puzzle. I don’t know much about it, other than the beginning is a series of questions I must find soul-deep truthful answers to. The first question, or “gate”, is “Do I want to live?”

At first, my interpretation of the question was pretty straightforward: am I committed to taking another breath, or am I ready to call it quits now and make a graceful exit? I don’t feel suicidal, per se, but needed the freedom to think about whether or not facing years of declining health and limited ability was worth whatever I thought I was going to get out of keeping on keeping on.

At Disney, I realized the question has more depth than that. It’s not just a matter of “Do I want this body to continue it’s autonomic processes of breathing, heart beating, etc?” Although that’s the medical definition of “life”, that’s not what my spiritual question is really about. I have been Told that suicide is not an option (yet), and really, I don’t feel ready to go now. No, the question of living or dying is not about the physical body at all.

Because of the way the trip was planned, I got up every day and got dressed, ate breakfast and went out. Some days I felt pretty good, and other days I felt like utter crap. But this was our vacation, our special time, and it was limited, so if I decided to stay in bed one day it meant I would miss out on one of the parks altogether, and Ninja would miss it too. We would miss the experience of the park, the meals we had planned, the time spent together doing things, and instead stay in the hotel room. Some days I went out for a long time, and some days it took all of my power to stay active for four hours. But every day, I chose to get up and do something to enrich my life.

I spend a lot of my time at home dying. By that, I mean that I surrender to my illness and let it decide that today, I am trading whatever it is I could be doing for “being sick”. Now don’t get me wrong – there are days where this is a pretty unavoidable choice. I am absolutely not saying that I believe I can “think myself well”, or if I just have a maj0r attitude adjustment then I will miraculously feel able to jump up and achieve everything I want to. But I admit that there are times where I could push harder, where I could have made the choice to be uncomfortable or in pain, or chance feeling poorly, and instead I chose the “lazy” route of staying home. Sometimes people around me enforce that, too – we’re trained to tell sick people to stay in bed, in that some day they will be “better” and then it won’t be an issue anymore.

For me, there is no “better” coming.

So what I learned about this question, “Do I want to live?” is not so much about the actual medical definition of living. The question is really asking me if I have the inner fortitude to seek out and challenge myself to have experiences that enrich and magnify my quality of life, even if I don’t feel physically great at the time. And sure, maybe sometimes I will choose to go out and do things and it will turn out to be the wrong choice – that I should have stayed at home, or whatever I’ve chosen to do is more demanding than I can handle. But it’s better for me to find this out by actually trying, rather than just making an assumption or listening to some non-medical professional tell me what’s good for me.

Now I need to figure out what this living is going to look like. I know writing this blog is a baby step. I know that getting more involved in ritual activities in my area is a big step. I know going out with my friends and loved ones is of great importance to me. I need to keep up with my correspondance (a big living-dying issue in my world) and keep in touch with people who don’t live close to me. I need to go to kink and sex events, preferably teach at them, because it’s something I love to do. And once I’m done with the TB meds, I am going to see an endocrinologist to talk about going on testosterone, for a bunch of reasons – but mostly because I feel like its an experience I need to have before I die.

I don’t know if I’m done with this first gate now, but at least I think I have a handle on what I am supposed to be learning. I know the second gate is “What do want to do with the life that you have?” and that’s a whole different issue. Right now, I just need to concentrate on living, and what feels like “life” to me, and then I can worry about directing that energy towards a greater purpose another day.

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