The Guest House

The Guest House
by Rumi

This being human is a guesthouse.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
Because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Breathing Through Life

Last night I was sitting out on our porch watching the stars appear. I concentrated on watching a blue-black patch of sky slowly show one star, then two,….

I concentrated with quiet dedication. Quiet, except for my gasping for breath.

Watching the stars was so much better than being in my body, panting.

I have a disease (noncommunicable) that destroys red blood cells. There is a parasite that lives inside my red blood cells (the cells that provide oxygen for the entire body). When the parasite spawns, it bursts through the red blood cell’s wall, killing the red blood cell, thus depriving my body of oxygen. It feels as if I’ve just run 10 miles.

But the feeling doesn’t go away as I sit watching the stars. After 10 minutes it still hasn’t eased, not even a little. The feeling of oxygen starvation goes on and on. Panic starts to creep in, and thus I sit in quiet concentration looking at the stars.

It’s so much better to watch the stars appear – blue, red, white and yellow – than to think about how thin this atmosphere of ours is. Such a thin layer of oxygen supporting this world as we know it. If I allow the air hunger to enter my mind, I’d be overwhelmed with panic.

Watching the stars appear, God’s glorious canvas, this way lies peace, in the midst of the whisper thin breath of air that keeps my body alive.

I hate the drama – a guy sitting, or on hands and knees, panting for breath, minute after minute after minute. I have no control over how others view my distress. But it doesn’t mean I have to appreciate the image.

I view myself as a strong, vibrant, healthy man. But the truth is that as hard as I’ve tried to keep in shape, this disease has much more control than I do. I’m healthy but for disease that is actively trying to kill me in an anxiety prone manner. I am healthy but for the nausea that prevents me from enjoying even the thought of food. I’m healthy but for the pain and exhaustion that so often keep me in bed.

Long before I knew what the disease was, I knew that something was dragging me down. I knew I had a decision about what I wanted my life to look like. I decided that the dis-ease was important to take care of, but far less important than helping this world become a better place. And for that, I needed to be centered, quiet, and creative.

So I sit out on the porch, watching God’s world unfold. The ease – and quiet – and stillness – all help feed my creative soul. I can’t even imagine allowing the disease to win over my life – the confusion, terror, and fog have no appeal. The way of the disease may appear easier than the struggle to to feel God’s presence and to be a creative force. But the disease-way is a false path – filled with just enough truths to interest the scientist within me, and enough pitfalls to make it a poor way of dying.

Dark Nights

This is difficult for me. In my life, I have chosen to concentrate on the wondrous, awesome, and beautiful aspects of life. This is not to deny the darker side, but an orientation towards the good.

When life presents me with situations I’d rather not be in, I search for the golden opportunities hidden amongst the shit. For example, I have a neurological disease that causes me much pain.

One night I was rolling around in agony, trying to look for the good and for God. After a while, it came to me that the pain was in discrete packets. Most of the time the packets came so quickly that they seemed like one endless stream. But upon inspection even this “endless stream” was a rapidfire series of packetized pain.

As I concentrated on the packets, two things occurred. First, the pain became more bearable. Second, was that there seemed to be a silver glow around each packet – an essence of God around the pain packets. God wasn’t causing the pain, nor for me was he in the pain, but he was around the pain and therefore with me throughout the night.

That miserable night, this search for meaning, helped me not only survive but to find value: God’s presence and awe.

As in this instance, my lifelong goal has been to search for the good, and to maximize it. This blog is an extension of my life’s goal. I am hoping that I can maximize the good by expressing how I got to where I am and letting other people learn from my mistakes/pain/and accomplishments.