CLINTON COMEUPPANCE Begins Today, 12/13/18, 2 PM, Washington DC

Three Clinton Foundation Whistleblowers to Testify about Tax Crimes, Pay for Play

I cannot stress enough how crucial this extraordinary testimony before a House congressional subcommitee will be. Tune into C-Span to watch it live.

House Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on the Clinton Foundation

Huber himself, selected by Sessions to oversee 470 investigators, will not testify, but these three whistleblowers will. And perhaps others will come forward. After all, the utterly corrupt Clinton Crime Spree has been global, ongoing, and completely out-of-line with the CF original 501c3 intention, as the Clinton Presidential Library in Arkansas. Many commentators have noted that the foundation’s wealth dramatically waxed with the timing of Hillary as first New York State Senator, then her years as Secretary of State, only to see a precipitous decline of 90% when she failed to become president.

Both Hillary, and the Clinton Foundation, have been implicated in child trafficking. Trying to find a single video on this, I come up with something I’ve yet to watch, but I do trust Max Igan.

And then of course, there’s Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake, when the Clintons milked both the Haitians and the people who generously gave money to help the Haitians. Even a huffpo article, usually linked only with “progressive liberals” like Hillary, ran a story about this matter.

The Clinton Foundation’s Legacy in Haiti —  “Haitians more than upset . . .” 

That article is based on an interview with Charles Ortel,  a financial analyst  well known for his continuous — he would say “relentless” — investigation of the Clinton Foundation’s “massive fraud.” For the past two years has been holding long Sunday conversations with Crowd Source the Truth Jason Goodman. I listened to nearly an hour of the latest one last night, and I must say got frustrated. Way too much preliminary back and forth! I have a sense that his new information on the CF began just after I fell back to sleep at about the one hour mark.

I do remember he said that several of the whistleblowers who will testify today contacted him a few years ago when they needed to clarify and learn more about the labyrinthian criminal ways in which the Clinton Foundation has worked.

Kevin Shipp also has a number of youtube videos on the Clinton Foundation, and references Charles Ortel’s work on them.

I decided to do a chart for the two p.m. start date for what I’m calling the Clinton Comeuppance.

 

And wow, Pluto, Lord of the underworld, at 20° Capricorn, only two degrees from exact conjunction with the 18° Capricorn Midheaven (the public path). Pluto’s dark machinations come into the light!

Uranus and Eris in late Aries near the early Taurus Ascendant squaring Pluto/MC and the nodes.

Uranus, 84 year cycle: unpredictability, startling, sudden changes, lightning in a dark sky.

Eris, named for “the Goddess of Discontent,” discovered only a few years ago, has been in Aries since 1926 and will stay in that sign for over 100 years. Given its ultra long cycle, I tend to identify Eris with the rise and fall of civilizations.

Pluto: 248 year cycle: signifying hidden power, secrecy, the primal life force, death and rebirth.

Uranus and Pluto squared off with one another closely about the time the Occupy movement started, in 2011, and lasted for about six years, cracking the foundations of traditional financial and geopolitical structures. That cracking now threatens to become a complete demolition. In fact, it may be that, a decade from now, when we look back on the events of this period in history, we might time the start of this still young nation’s FIRST PLUTO RETURN (to where it was when this nation was born), to the start of today’s hearing that is bringing to light the crimes of the Clinton Foundation.

Here’s the U.S. chart. Note the position of Pluto at 27° Capricorn. Pluto is now at 20° Capricorn. After nearly 248 years, we are about to begin to confront our moment of truth, as to how power has been wielded in the good old U.S. of A. One might say that the Clinton Foundation is, as this Congressional Subcommittee Hearing names it, a “Case Study,” i.e., an example of what not to do as a so-called NGO.

I will return over and over again, to this enormous subject of the U.S. Pluto return as we go forward through at least 2022.

P.S. — and big hint: Let’s hope Trump wins re-election in 2020, because there is simply no person alive with a greater familiarity with bankruptcy.

 

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AK Reader, E-Book (posted as a series) BWIWD, Chapter Eight, THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF MY DISCOVERY, Part 4

Note: BWIWD = Back When I Was Dying. For previous chapters, see posts December 9-12. I will collect the entire series into an e-book when done.

 

Chapter 8

THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF MY DISCOVERY: PART 4

 

My particular discovery process might sound extreme, and yet it is not that unusual. In the business world, for example, though seldom talked about or even consciously recognized, trust-in-the-universe resides at the very foundation of the entreprenurial spirit that veils those who work for themselves from those who depend on a paycheck.

Trust is not logical, not an aspect of the rational self that we have been taught to construct and guard since birth. Our exit from the warmth and security of the womb bursts us into an alien world where, unless securely held by a nurturing presence long enough for us to find our feet without fear of falling, we lost trust in the grounded beingness of existence.

In order to live in a world where things appear to be separate, we had to learn how to separate from the mother in a way that invited independence while maintaining connection. Yet most of us remember our mothers as either too detached or too familiar. The push/pull of the changing mother/child bond set up a lifelong paradox: how to simultaneously embrace both a healthy sense of self and healthy relationships with others?

Depending on our reaction to our perception of how we were mothered, we tend to identify with one side or the other. Either we fixate into a remote detachment that is commitment phobic and terrified of intimacy; or, feeling needy, dependent, and terrified of abandonment, we obsess on the other, want to control him or her. Whichever side we gravitate towards, we attract others to us who represent the opposite pole in order to maintain the familiarity of the original push/pull.

However, unless we get stuck, we do naturally continue to evolve. At some point in our lives many of us take the next step, discovering that we have unconsciously switched places and ended up on the receiving end of what we had once given out! We begin to see the other as behaving like we once behaved and vice versa; and moreover, with chagrin and even shame and embarrassment, we begin to understand just how difficult and even impossible it was for the other to deal with us! By changing places, we get perspective on our original identification and thus recognize our own part in the situation; we begin to have compassion for what it feels like to be in the other person’s shoes; and, most crucially, we begin to recognize each other as partners in a powerful, invisible dynamic that, once recognized, transforms into a boring, repetitive drama.

In other words, once we switch polarities, the projection loosens its grip and paves the way for an awareness of the push/pull pattern in ourselves that has its origin in how we were originally nurtured — or not. Eventually, if we are diligent, we learn to take back a projection each time it occurs and to expand the range of our awareness by consciously holding the paradox of polarity in order to continuously refine the ever-shifting balance between independence and connectedness.

Ultimately, we find that as we continue to refine our capacity to work with both poles of any seeming contradiction, we deepen our appreciation of them both and realize their unity. They not only affect one another, they are aspects of one another on a continuum that includes the space that defines the distance between them. In other words, to become aware of both poles at once is to embrace the space between them as a unified field.

And yet, there’s a difficulty. We don’t know how to widen awareness without losing the pivot point that keeps us grounded. We’re taught to focus on one thing at a time, and move in linear fashion from one thing to another. So, to rear back and let our eyes go fuzzy, to lose the usual narrowed focus, feels weird. When we simultaneously and deliberately direct awareness in opposite directions — to both the very small and the very large; to both points and the spaces in which they are held — we start to feel spacey, dizzy, even nauseated. It takes practice and persistence to easily shift our focus from zoom to panoramic and back again.

Back then, before I struck out on my own, I had a dream, of Neitszche’s eye, like a camera lens, widening, narrowing, focusing in and out. I realized, upon awakening, that this dream metaphor was key to my mental and spiritual evolution.

As we learn how to embrace the space between any two seemingly opposite points and see them as a unified field, we make a startling discovery: space is not empty. Despite the push/pull dramas that result from our seemingly separate existences, at a deeper, invisible level our individual being is continuous with, and but an aspect of, the primordial ground of Being that rounds the world into one. Far from being empty, space is full, a plenum, liquified; there is no space left over from or within Being, nothing that separates anything or anyone from all that is.

Thus — and here, finally, I come to the point of this seemingly abstract, even spacey discussion — there is no way for us to fall, no reason not to trust.

 And yet, unless we are fortunate enough to experience a safe maternal presence when young for long enough, we forget this fundamental grounding within the whole of being. And who does not forget? There is always some kind of glitch in the mothering process. Our mothers too, had to negotiate the tension between self-will and self-surrender. As did their mothers before them. This tension, as long as we occupy bodies which appear as separate, never goes away entirely. The continuing tug between self-sufficiency and self-surrender is one of the hallmarks of being human.

Like individuals, various cultures stress one side of the equation at the expense of the other. It’s a cliché to say that eastern cultures value harmonization and western society values striving. We westerners are taught from birth to stand on our own, do our own thing, compete, fight to win. Death, in the worldview that we have inherited, feels like losing. Doctors and patient’s families often feel they have failed when, despite their best efforts, the loved one dies.

And yet, and yet . . . amazingly enough, despite our entrenched cultural emphasis on ego, individualism and self-sufficiency, there comes a point in our short or long or even longer lives, when, unaccountably, most of us are blessed to enter what does appear as an entirely other atmosphere; a moment when, through no fault or virtue or decision of our own, we wake up into what we would, if we could but fall back far enough, remember: we awaken into what feels like the hushed, sustained presence of grace.

Just when we least expect it, toward the end of life if not before, grace tiptoes in and saves us. Unexplained, undeserved, and bearing divine benediction, grace bestows its miracle: many, if not most people, especially if they are fortunate enough to undergo a prolonged, but not too painful dying process, do move into oneness with being and die peacefully, in the arms of Love.

And grace often blesses family and friends as well. How many times have we heard someone say that they felt a shock of revelation when they viewed the body of their loved one and realized that it was empty. That the person who had inhabited the body was no longer there. That the body, far from being the person, was merely the container. And that this recognition gave them closure, peace.

For those who are fortunate, the death process itself feels like a benediction, with all participants surrendered as one in the hushed presence of grace. The atmosphere in the room changes, lightens, charges with mystery, numinosity, even majesty, as beings from both sides of the veil intermingle, hold vigil, joyfully witness and participate in the loved one’s climactic passage from this dimension into the next.

 

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AK Reader, E-Book (posted as a series) BWIWD: Chapter Seven, THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF MY DISCOVERY, Part 3

Note: BWIWD = Back When I Was Dying. For previous chapters, see posts December 9-12. I will post the entire series as an e-book when done.

 

Chapter Seven

THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF MY DISCOVERY, Part 3

 

So, then the question arises: do we trust the universe? And if not, how do we learn if we can?

I had to ask myself that question, back in my early 30s, when I popped through our cultural bubble to find myself a stranger in a strange land, with little self-awareness and no real plan. Had to ask it once, and then again a few years later. Both times, it seemed as if my life was over. Both times, a creeping depression had settled in, taken me down and held me under.

Somehow, I intuitively knew that trust couldn’t be drilled in like the nuns drilled the catechism into me as a child. Back then my internal state was that of chronic dread: like Chicken Little, I was sure the Bomb would devour the sky.

Later, as a young adult weighed down by a vague generalized anxiety, at some point I began to wonder: is my chronic fear a rational response to reality or is it paranoid? I figured I might as well find out, since my only alternative was to die, slowly through depression, or more quickly, a suicide.

I knew intuitively that the only way for me to find out if I could trust the universe would be to take some kind of enormous risk that scared the hell out of me. In order to jump-start my life, I would have to deliberately immerse myself in a situation where I didn’t know if I could survive. I would have to leap blindfolded, into the void.

On the first occasion, I forced myself to punch through groggy exhaustion and rise from my basement bed — where I had been drowning in the foggy winter drizzle of Marin County, California. Steeled against depression’s inertia and moving like a robot, I dressed in warm clothes, hiked down the hill, and, in a moment of heart-stopping bravado, stuck my thumb out. Though scared shitless, I had determined to hitch north on Interstate 101 for the weekend with a dollar in my pocket and no sleeping bag.

Needless to say, the adventure jolted me into aliveness. By shifting into survival mode I tuned into the universe.

The second experiment also involved little access to money. And this time survival mode stretched into years. I had to learn if the trust I had uncovered that earlier weekend was just a fluke, a lucky accident, or if I could actually trust the universe for an extended period. I wanted to see if I could make a habit of trust and live inside that.

Again, I not only survived, but thrived. By staying in the moment and opening to the opportunities embedded in the here and now; by noticing and consciously working with all exchanges with the environment; by feeling my way along the trail of synchronicities like I would later follow the thread of white water down rapids of the Colorado, I surrendered to the flow of my life. Both times, I opened to the current of my own inner trajectory, on high alert, fully alive, and exhilarated.

I still work with fear. I view fear is an early warning device, a signal that something new is coming for which I must prepare. Preparation is internal: I move into awareness through the breath, focusing precisely there — here, now — allowing the rhythmic inhale/exhale to blend and expand into spaciousness, attune to the whole, surrender to reality.

What I have learned to call “unprocessed fear” — fear that is not consciously held in awareness but simply reacted to unconsciously — was, and of course is . . . not unusual. Indeed, now transmogrified into “the war on terror,” unprocessed fear has corroded our culture to the point where it infects the air we breathe. We can sense fear as a thick, dirty, ubiquitous fog that clouds perception, exhausts our adrenals and dulls our responsiveness to the point where only the most aware among us realize that they too — despite their will! — have absorbed the culture’s chronic state of high or subtle anxiety that runs on underneath all plans and projects and destroys trust in the self, in others, in the flow of life. And of those who are aware of their participation in the general anxiety, and who refuse to medicate themselves against it — a very select group — how many of these rare ones then rise to the challenge by consciously asking themselves, “Can the universe be trusted?’ And how many of these then devise an experiment to help them find out?

For me, the only way to learn if I could trust the universe was to jump blindfolded off what might have been a bottomless cliff. Was to actually invite into conscious awareness the classic nightmare that most of us undergo at least once in our lives — the one where we fall endlessly through space until sheer panic shocks us awake.

My discovery that the universe can be trusted transformed my experience of life. Rather than seeing/feeling myself as separate, I sense my connectedness. In learning to trust the universe I recognize my own nature and the nature of the universe as, at some deep and mysterious level, harmonized. They sing the same song and are made of one substance. I and the universe are one.

By jumping off the cliff, I shocked myself awake. I awakened to the present moment, and glimpsed into its stunning, unexpected gift: the all-encompassing Love at the heart of being.

From then on, I knew: if I had the courage to follow my nature, then Nature would support me.

 

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AK Reader, E-Book (posted as a series) BWIWD: Chapter Six, THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF MY DISCOVERY, Part 2

Note: BWIWD = Back When I Was Dying. For previous chapters, see posts December 9 through December 11. I plan to collect the entire series into an e-book at the end.

 

Chapter Six

THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF MY DISCOVERY, Part 2

 

More than anything, what separates the living from the dying seems to be our engagement with life. As long as we are fully engaged — attached to people, animals, projects, stuff — thoughts of death are usually pushed aside.

And yet, in the midst of our daily busyness, it may behoove us to learn how to stop. Just stop! Stop what we are doing and pay close attention — to now. Right now. To this one moment.

For if, submerged inside this one long elastic moment, we dare to contemplate our own personal death, and do it in a more or less sustained manner, a profound choice emerges from the shadows and carries with it the capacity to dramatically alter our entire perspective. This choice is usually buried so deeply that we don’t notice it, and yet it can surface in a single beat of the heart.

It may be that if we dwell long enough in the zone of the present moment, that this sustained focus in itself invites awareness of Death. And/or, it may be that acute awareness of Death locks one into Presence, where time slows and life assumes a silent, dreamlike quality — something that happens, for example, during a car crash, or upon hearing of the death of a loved one.

Ultimately, conscious contemplation of Death invites its opposite. Death, when held in full awareness, provokes us to fully choose Life. Instead of walking with head down, myopically focused on this or that, we engage in an opportunity that is always there, but usually realized only in those rare rare moments when we narrowly avert sudden death — or when we are, in fact, on our deathbed. At these crucial times our vision widens to take in our entire life as a whole. We stand outside ourselves, viewing our trajectory over time, and how this trajectory is situated within the whole of creation. Questions surface. Why do we do what we do? Where are we heading? What do we drag along behind, unfinished? How do we want to feel about ourselves when we die?

Our society tends to view those who are fascinated by death and dying as “morbid.” In this way, we unconsciously collude to keep ourselves from discovering conscious awareness of Death as the key to full aliveness. High-risk athletes know this. Climbers who inch up near-vertical cliffs without protection, for example, must enter the “zone” of the present moment and extend it for the length of the wall. While “in the zone,” they feel completely present and alive, their movements flowing mindfully from hold to hold in communion with the cosmos.

To consciously and deliberately invite Death into our awareness and allow it its rightful place, “sitting on our left shoulder,” as the Toltec shaman Don Juan Matus told author Carlos Casteneda, far from being a morbid preoccupation, transforms into a great and startling gift. The door opens and we leave the limited world of what Don Juan called the tonal for the infinitely powerful invisible world of the nagual. From the standpoint of the nagual, the tonal tends to shroud our awareness from birth until death. Yet, just as we access the material tonal world through our five outer senses, nature endows us with the capacity to access the invisible world of the nagual through our inner sensing of the whole. “The tonal begins at birth and ends at death, but the nagual never ends. The nagual has no limit. The nagual is where Power hovers.” — Carlos Casteneda, Tales of Power.

The nagual has no limit. Any decision we find ourselves needing to make, any crossroads or dilemma, widens to encompass a field of infinite possibilities when we keep our own personal death in mind. No longer afraid, we break through whatever illusory barriers that we, or our culture, sets up to make us think that we can’t do it, can’t go there, can’t. We let go of no, and say yes to Life. We engage fully and meaningfully, with mind and heart and soul, until done.

Inside this larger, more spacious matrix, we recognize that a lack of engagement, especially when it translates to letting go of material preoccupations, is a major indication of being done, of beginning the descent/ascent towards death. An example here is my 90-year-old mother, a former shopaholic and in the early stages of what others call “dementia” and I call the dismantling of personality — held together by memory — to reveal the essential nature. Mom no longer wants to receive gifts. “What do I do with them? Why do I need more stuff? she says, “I have no more need for stuff.”

In responding to my mother’s remark, I laughed and told her I could just see her looking down at us humans preoccupied with the weird business of handling material objects and passing them back and forth with others. Just how strange it was, that humans are so preoccupied with stuff!

She looked at me astonished. I had read her mind! My 92-year-old father, his hands busy with the stuff of breakfast preparation, paused, turned around to look at me, at her — and then turned back, silent.

Getting, keeping, sharing, giving, storing, hoarding — all various modes of material exchange (or not) that, as long as we are engaged in embodied life, tend to absorb us, keep our focus “down to earth,” and deflect us from awe and wonder — hushed states of awareness that we all remember from childhood. These memories seep — or pop — out when we least expect or want them to; we shake our head, blink our eyes, try to dismiss them, turn back, silent, vaguely upset, to what we were focused on before . . .

I used to sleep outside. Snug in my sleeping bag, I’d stare at the stars until I whooshed out into the universe. Like spinning, it made me dizzy; like doing cartwheels, or swinging, I flew, but farther — out, and kept going! The sudden ejection from my body that widened awareness and liquefied space felt so scary and exciting that I always hungered for more.

I didn’t talk about swooshing to my siblings or friends. Certainly not to my parents. Either I intuitively picked up on the taboo nature of altered states, or I simply had no words for this peculiar rupture in ordinary reality that trumpeted a dimension more primal than either my dreams or daily life.

In childhood we learn how to shut down, or at least compartmentalize; from then on, we keep the two parts of life, worldly and otherworldly, in-body and out-of-body, separate.

Death, too, both scared and excited me as a child. Somehow, death united the two worlds; or it proved that they both exist; or it showed me the door between the two. Something like that. All I knew was that I was fascinated. I wanted, needed to see a dead human body. And my doctor father wouldn’t let me. Over and over again, he dismissed my strange, repeated, silly request.

Now, as adults, if we do not immediately shut out the tumult of feelings that cascade through us when we encounter Death, we find ourselves back in our sleeping bags, filled with awe and wonder. As my sister Kathy pointed out, when she came to visit a few days after my husband Jeff’s sudden departure from a heart attack and my mind was still trying desperately to make sense of it: “Death,” she intoned, locking eyes with mine, “ . . is Mystery.”

Yet how often are we actually able to be present to the mystery of Death when it, and the dying process, are medicalized? When we unknowingly collude in the mechanization of something that is, or could be, as natural and organic as the other end of embodied life’s spectrum, Birth — another usually medicalized process.

My crone friend Shauna echoed my mother’s material malaise as she neared death from cancer a few years ago. She had invited me to live with her for a week. Each day I would fix her enticing meals and try to get her to eat at least a little bit, but she felt nauseated and exhausted and said her mouth tasted like metal. She was still enduring chemo treatments, even though she told me that she was done, that nothing interested her any longer. On our final day together, while wheeling her down the hospital hall for what turned out to be her second-to-last treatment, I asked her why she chose to suffer in the last stages of her life. She replied, “Because if I stopped chemo, my friends would be too upset.”

They didn’t want to lose her. Yet these were women who called themselves crones, and so presumably aware of the continuity between life and death. Did they really think that if she died, she’d blink out? That they wouldn’t be able to access her wisdom, her compassion, her quirks that make them smile? It may more likely be that the thought of Shauna dying dragged their own deaths to the surface.

Since in our materialistic, medicalized culture we tend to identify a person with his or her body — unless we hold fast to a convoluted religious dogma that propels our souls (but not our bodies) to heaven or hell (and then re-unites body and soul on the final Judgment Day) — we tend to think that when the body dies, the person dies, too.

Regarding those who see themselves as religious, I have a hunch that some who believe strongly in St. Peter’s pearly gates and white robes and golden harps cling to their literal picture of “heaven” as a kind of Disney paradise to mask their terror of dying. As my brother-in-law, a long-time hospice nurse, mused, “It’s amazing how many Catholics are afraid to die.”

How to account for this fear?

Is it because they are afraid to get stuck in a static, boring paradise? I sure would be, given the usual view of heaven, a place where nothing ever happens — Talking Heads.

Fundamentalists might say that when people are afraid to die it’s because their beliefs are not strong enough.

Yet, given that fear of death is endemic in our society — and perhaps in most cultures, see Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death; given that fear infects the very air we breathe and that the fear of death underlies all other fears, I sense that this most primal fear cannot be overcome with any left-brained belief, no matter how strongly held.

From my own experience, I would say that what is missing is trust. Right-brained trust. Trust in the universe. Trust in the benevolence of being. Trust that anytime we fall, we land in the arms of love.

 

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AK Reader, E-Book (posted as a series) BWIWD: Interlude (again), From My Journal

Note: BWIWD = Back When I Was Dying. See previous posts December 9 through 11.

 

Interlude (again): From My Journal

 

October 27, 2008

Amos Joel, my father-in-law, died just past midnight two days ago, five and a half years after the death of his son Jeff. Back then, when I called to tell Amos that Jeff had died, he had of course been devastated to learn that he ha outlived his son. Outliving his wife Rhoda, who had died the year before, had been bad enough, but his own son! “I’m so glad Rhoda wasn’t here to find this out,” he told me. “It would have killed her!” Neither of us noticed the humor in this remark.

All he had left were his twin daughters — and me, his daughter-in-law. After Jeff died, I continued Jeff’s long-term filial duty, both visiting his father once a year and phoning him once a week.

The overnight visits were difficult, increasingly so as time went on and his energy waned. I would drive down to New Jersey from Massachusetts (where I was visiting my children and grandchildren during Christmas vacation), at the mercy of winter conditions. Nor did I ever settle on the “best” way to get to the retirement village where he lived — and got lost more often than not.

Each time, on the four hour drive to and from, I’d wonder how long he had left, and wish the ordeal would be over. He was obviously not happy, or even content. Rather, he was just existing, waiting to die without saying so, and yet wanting to live on forever.

It was his long drawn out dying process that solidified my own views on death and dying. It seemed to me that way too many of us hang on way too long, at huge interpersonal, social and financial cost for others — and for no obvious reason other than fear of death which we never talk about, never mention.

Of course a part of me felt guilty for feeling that way.

Yet I could certainly understand Amos’s fear, given his atheism. For him death was it, the end. Caput. Even so, I still longed for his final journey to be over. His presence in the world felt like stuck energy, a black hole that threatened to swallow not only him but everybody that worked with him — his home aides, his daughters’ energies, my own.

Was I callous, unloving? Apparently. And yet, when I did see him, our meetings themselves were always heartfelt. We would reminisce about our memories of his son, as that was the connective tissue between us.

For the last two visits, rather than stay overnight, I made a date for a meal together, bringing my little family with me — two sons, daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren. I thought that the energies of children might revive him at least for a short while. And during our first visit, they did. We all had a good time in the cavernous dining room with ghostly old ones hovering like wraiths and two kids playing on the floor without a care in the world.

But by the time Christmas 2007 came along, our visit felt forced. Everybody was exhausted, as we had driven into a snowstorm and arrived around 9 p.m. Amos was clearly much more frail, and though he did go out to dinner with us — he wanted to go to a pancake house! — I could tell it took great effort, an effort he had not made for some time. I resolved then that this would be our last visit.

But I did continue my weekly phone calls with him; then bi-weekly; then, about a month ago, on hanging up the phone I decided that I would not call him again. That it was simply too difficult for him to try to talk with me. He was no longer here in the sense that you and I are here. He had entered a kind of confused limbo state.

For the last few years, despite his non-belief in the afterlife, his daughters told me that he would talk about Rhoda, saying that she was there with him, that she slept on her side of the bed. I never heard him talk like this. And did not feel that it was appropriate for me to bring the subject up. I was only the daughter-in-law who, as the years since my husband died grew longer, seemed more and more like an outsider to that little family.

During Jeff’s phone calls to his Dad, nothing of substance had ever been communicated, no real connection made; each time when Jeff hung up the phone he would sigh, both morose and resigned.

Those phone calls weren’t easy for me either. Amos had always been such a brilliant, selfish, self-centered man. When someone asked Rhoda, for example, where she wanted her ashes to go, she quipped, with great feeling: “Scatter them at Bell Labs; because that’s where he spent the best years of my life!” So we did.

Amos once asked Jeff to accompany him to a conference in Europe, since he was getting old and needed a companion. Yet, for the flight over, he sat himself in first class and his son in coach!

And yet, during the year after Jeff died, I’d email Amos my journal entries, and he would invariably tell me that they made him cry, that they were so well written and Jeff was such an amazing man that I should publish them in a book. I did publish that book, This Vast Being: A Voyage through Grief and Exaltation, in 2007, with the intention of making sure to get it into his hands while he could still appreciate it.

I just made it. Though he was in no shape to read it again at that point, he did very much love the fact that Jeff’s life had been memorialized this way.

In his field, telecommunications, Amos was very well known. “Famous Amos” received many awards, including the National Medal of Technology from President Clinton in 1992. Inventor of over 70 patents, he was known in the industry as Mr. Switching, the man who had invented the technology that made the cell phone possible.

He was accustomed to adulation, and as a convinced atheist, dying was not on his agenda. His way of life was to continually push further into new heights of glory. So his move to the retirement village after his wife died felt, I’m sure, like a humiliating defeat. Gone was his third-floor study where he could command the view below; instead he was housed “with a bunch of old people” in his own condo on the road to the sick ward. He’d tell me that he’d just sit all day and watch the ambulances leaving for the hospital or the morgue.

His next goal was to have been the book he wanted to write, a history of telecommunications. And up until two years ago, the best way to engage him on the phone would be for me to ask about this book, for which he was forever taking notes and trying to make an outline. I knew, and his daughters knew, that it was the thought of the book that was keeping him alive.

At some point he began telling me that he wanted to give a talk on telecommunications to the retirement community at one of their weekly programs. But I don’t think that ever happened. I remember thinking at the time that, for him, wanting to give a talk there must have felt like a come -down from his glory days of speeches and awards before national and international audiences. Why didn’t they put him on the program? Did he ever actually ask for a slot? And if so, did they just look upon him as a dotty old man and his subject of no interest?

His daughters were determined that he should reach his one remaining professional goal, aside from the book: an induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. They figured this was something that should have happened years ago, and over a two year span, pulled the necessary strings. In February and April of this year they traveled with him by limousine to first, Washington, D.C., and then Akron, Ohio, for the ceremonies of induction to Amos’s final honor.

Two days ago Andrea called to tell me of his death at around midnight the night before. He had been in the hospital again, she said. He had told someone there that he was tired, that he “just wanted it to be over.” Stephanie, the twin who lives in New York had visited the day before. Andrea arrived from LA in time to make the arrangements to get him home that afternoon, where he wanted to be. She sat with him that night, talking to him in a soothing tone, saying everything was okay, that everything was taken care of, that he could go. I asked if he was conscious. She said she didn’t know, but that at one point it looked like he was trying to open his eyes. At around 11 p.m. the nurse told her that he would last the night, and she might as well get some sleep. About an hour later she got a call that her father had died. “He waited until I was gone, and until the nurse was out of the room to die,” she told me.

“When I came back and looked at him, it was so strange! He looked completely different. It was awful to see his body. Morbid. Stephanie wondered if she should view his body. I told her I didn’t recommend it, that it was too morbid.”

“Did she?” I asked.

“No.”

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AK Reader, E-Book (posted as a series) BWIWD: Chapter Five, THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF MY DISCOVERY, Part 1

Note: BWIWD = Back When I Was Dying. See previous posts December 9-11.

 

Chapter Five

THE SOCIAL CONTEXT OF MY DISCOVERY, Part 1

 

I had just discovered that I didn’t want to “save my life.” And this surprised me. Not intrinsically: I was fine with it. But sociologically, I knew better. And frankly, given our cultural milieu, I was amazed that I wasn’t at least tempted to “battle” my disease. Moreover — and this felt quite daunting — I knew that if I really didn’t want to “fight for my life,” if I really did find myself suddenly, but even so, naturally bending towards death, then this unusual existential state would entail serious social consequences.

I had three alternatives, all of them uncomfortable. I could ignore my family and friends, I could lie to them, or I could help them accept my decision.

I chose the third alternative; or, I should say, it chose me. This was not a rational process. Just like the “decision” not to save my life, telling others about my decision felt like a another current in the river that I had just stepped into.

Now, obviously, I’m still here. I didn’t die. Those three April days distilled into a little jewel of heightened awareness that I attempt, in this account, to fathom. Had I gone through that experience alone, I imagine it would have held a very different flavor.

The third alternative, though it felt natural at the time, meant that once the experience ended I had to call back all those whom I had informed of my impending death! As one of my close friends — she had recently undergone a biopsy for a “little spot” of cancer in one breast and kept her condition very private, telling only a few close friends — said to me: “If only you hadn’t jumped the gun and told people about it before you got a definitive diagnosis.”

Yes, had I not told people one could say that I would have spared myself the trouble of having to explain that I wasn’t dying after all — not to mention the embarrassment and chagrin of having caused them unnecessary suffering! Moreover, I would have spared them from confronting their own mortality while grieving mine, and — here’s the kicker— we would have bypassed the sudden, fierce love that surged through us as though funneled in from outer space.

Why would I want to spare us this exceptional experience? Especially when I consider the alternatives.

To me, ignoring family and close friends when faced with an apparently terminal situation feels cruel. I would have robbed them of what they needed to know in order to begin to process their own loss. Plus, I would have stopped them from giving and stopped myself from learning how to receive. In short, I would have steered us all away from the transformative intimacy of shared vulnerability.

Lying to family and close friends feels even worse. Lying also would have created separation during a time when I most needed others’ support — and of course, just the act of knowingly speaking falsely to another generates bad faith. Lying about serious matters, especially had I continued to lie, would have forced me to remember, sustain, and even embellish the lie over time. Prolonged dissembling would have created a false mask that felt terrible to me and promoted conscious or unconscious doubt and insecurity in those to whom I told the lie.

And yet, given our common cultural conditioning that renders us unusually fearful of death, I can understand why a person who might be dying would ignore others or lie to them — at least for awhile. For example, my dear friend George told me that his wife, dying of cancer, refused to admit him into her room when she knew she had, at most, only a few weeks to live. While at the time he felt hurt, and abandoned, he now realizes that she needed to prepare herself without interference. His need for her to try just one more experimental medical solution — a mask for his own unprocessed fear of losing her — both demanded too much of her precious energy and interrupted her internal process at a time when it was crucial for her to come into full alignment with the sacred drama of her dying process.

(A few days before she died, she re-opened her door to him. On the morning of her final day, she lost consciousness, stopped breathing, and appeared to have died. At some point George left the room; when he walked back in, she opened her eyes, reached for his hand and placed it on her heart at the exact moment that her heart stopped beating.)

Another example, this one with a different ending: I recently heard about a woman whose breast lump tested malignant. She told her sister about the diagnosis and of course the sister freaked out. The doctors wanted to remove the breast and do radiation and chemotherapy. She refused all allopathic treatments — and, in order to keep peace and reduce stress, lied to her sister, telling her that the lab had made a mistake: the lump was not malignant. For several years, the lump waxed and waned and finally dissolved. Seven years later, the woman still hasn’t told her sister.

I don’t tell this last story to try to claim that if we just don’t treat a disease, it will disappear — though that does sometimes happen. As one of my healers remarked, if the mind and spirit are still aligned with embodied life then the body, as a part of nature, given enough support, does tend to heal itself over time. Nor do I tell this story to say that if we’d just conceal our disease from others, “everything will be all right.” It might, and it might not. But what is undeniably true is that when faced with a difficult, indeed possibly terminal situation, the added stress of others’ fear can feel overwhelming.

In my own family, one of my five sisters has survived various forms of cancer for over thirty years. Though the rest of us are aware of the outlines of her recurrent disease, and its history, she doesn’t like to talk about it. “I don’t want to be defined by my cancer,” she has told me, in private. When the family gets together, Mary wants us to see her as fully engaged in life — and she is, having morphed from piano teacher (until she lost the use of her right arm due to nerve damage from radiation in her twenties) into high school drama teacher. Then, several years ago she decided to go for her M.A. in spiritual counseling; now she begins yet another new engagement with life. How many people without the sword of Damocles perpetually hanging over their heads can say the same? How many of us keep growing, changing, evolving, no matter what our circumstances?

In the past two years, Mary has undergone an experimental outpatient treatment that required her to have someone assist her at her appointments. This time, rather than relying on her husband or closest friends, for the first time she invited two of our female siblings to accompany her. They felt honored to realize that Mary trusted them to share in the deepest, most profound aspect of her life.

Mary has nearly died and resurrected numerous times in these last thirty years. I sense that her insistence that others treat her as normal, rather than as a sick person, has had a great deal to do with her continuing vitality and the deepening into her essential nature over time. How many people remain alive for so long with recurrent cancer? How many people are — fated to? lucky enough? unlucky enough? — to consciously introject the alchemical mystery of Death into their psyches over and over and over again?

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AK Reader, E-Book (posted as a series) BWIWD: Interlude, From My Journal

Note: BWIWD = Back When I Was Dying. See previous posts December 9 and 10.

Interlude: From My Journal

7/08/08

It’s been nearly two months since I began to document April’s intense three-day journey. Each time I sit down to write a fog descends. I’m sleepy, dopey, as if the amnesia is still trying to grab me, take me under, so that I won’t remember, can’t remember . . . At first I didn’t notice this malaise; it took awhile to realize that I’m not my usual snappy fierce articulate self. I seem to pause over every sentence, fiddling, fidgeting, eyes closing, body tired, so tired . . . And I drift back to previous sentences, paragraphs, chapters, to juggle the words, the rhythm, the tone. Sometimes I seem to be nosing about for an opening, peering into spaces between sentences for a way in, a way down, or up, or over, to find and describe other, invisible dimensions that seem to lurk about, tease me with their opacity. Brain feels mushy, confused, wants to drift off, let go . . .

I decided on this Interlude, in hopes that writing about the writing will wake me up.

 

7/09/08

In the past two days, I’ve gotten word of the recent deaths of two friends, Bill in Idaho, and Amelia in New Mexico. From what I hear, it appears that both were prepared to go. A number of months before Amelia passed her friend Win said, thinking to cheer her up: “Well, you must be glad to get this [chemotherapy] over so you can get on with your life!” Only to hear Amelia reply, “And do what?”

And Bill, who nearly died in an accident years ago, when he broke just about every bone in his body, had lived so intensely and dramatically since then that his friends figured he had wanted to die, and kept trying to finish the job. His legendary outdoor feats included kayaking over cataracts and, when he finally edged over, they found his body floating in Idaho’s River of No Return.

When I spoke about Bill to Diane, a mutual friend, she said that she too, often catches herself “wondering in a very positive, curious way, what it [death] will be like.”

These two deaths, and Diane’s comment, coming now, when I am most in doubt, feel like subtle whisperings to go on, tell it, shake off the amnesia, share with others . . .

Yet, in order to tell what happened I must activate my left brain. But the experience was so ineffably right brain! And in order to recreate the experience, I must revisit it, over and over again, plumb its depths, how it resounds, reverberates . . .

Every morning as I start to write, the forgetting descends. Like I’m drugged on a sleeping pill, and must jerk myself awake, over and over again, day after day.

I have to keep waking myself up, so that I CAN tell it. Knowing that I’m meant to, that I’m meant to tell it. That this is part of the bargain, the completion of the “experiment” alluded to in the title and that I will soon describe.

But first I seem to need to slog through the details of “when I was dying,” both the medical details, and how I was feeling and interpreting those three days and some of the dimensions that the experience provoked. Dimensions nested within dimensions . . . more and more, no bottom line, no place I can say, here . . . this . . . is . . . where it ends, where the buck stops. No first cause. No cause and effect template. No linear chain. No contrasting polarities. Maybe that’s the problem. How do I keep going when the “momentum” that usually propels a story keeps forking, braiding, seeping . . .

And yet I do trust gravity, this strong sense of going downhill. Ultimately the waters will run together.

(Could there be another source of this strange reluctance to keep going? Are there forces arrayed against the telling? I wouldn’t be surprised. For if I can do justice to this tale, it might ramify in unexpected ways, might even disturb the cultural trance of daily life.)

Diane’s take on my strange malaise: “Maybe sleepy amnesia is a) the super-ego’s way of denying death; b) the first step on the path toward death; c) the poppy field in Wizard of Oz. . . or all of the above.”

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AK Reader, E-Book (posted as a series) BWIWD: Chapter Four: THE DISCOVERY

Note: BWIWD stands for BACK WHEN I WAS DYING. See post for December 9, and two earlier posts for December 10 (here and here

Chapter Four

THE DISCOVERY

 

In the hospital, panic had subtly provoked my awareness into another dimension, wherein I was observing both inside and outside in a detached manner and not hooking into the usual emotions. The experience tested my ability to “witness” my experience in a stressful situation — after nearly four decades of practice — and to a large extent, I succeeded. Yet, after five hours, while dressing to return home, any inner stability and ease suddenly fractured, flooding me with anguish. Then, while driving home, the mood switched a second time, and just as strongly — to excitement, even joy, as my perspective expanded.

Just after I hung up the phone with the E.R. doc at home I underwent a third internal transformation. Now it was not my mood that changed, but my entire ontological state.

It was as if that phone call had overloaded my psyche; I “couldn’t take it any more,” and needed to be soothed and protected. For that’s exactly what happened. My entire being seemed to immerse in a warm, viscous fluid that calmed the ricocheting emotions. Just as in the E.R. waiting room, once again I left this world and shot into another dimension, this one suffused with the numinosity, intensity and intimacy evoked by only the most extraordinary of transformations.

I could feel myself slowly sinking to the bottom of an inner ocean, the light streaks through the surface gradually fading. (Is this the first stage of “fainting”? If so, then I apparently caught myself before losing consciousness.) Though aware of surface conditions, it was as if they were operating in another universe, still accessible, but not nearly as real. I longed to descend to the bottom, to rest there and let the world go. But I couldn’t. I had to surface. Had to choreograph the logistics for the end of my life.

But wait, this might be a cosmic joke! The E.R. doc might have mixed up the records. The CT scan might have given false positives. The radiologist might have been preoccupied, or drunk, or exhausted. Who knows what might have happened. This whole thing might not be true! A waste of time and energy — not to mention mental and emotional suffering.

(And, given our litigious culture, if the diagnosis was erroneous, and caused unnecessary suffering, then it might be “actionable,” and I should “sue the bastards”! Several people, upon later hearing of my ordeal, suggested this. While I appreciate their concern, I recognize it as a conditioned reaction, the kind that I am attempting to become aware of in myself — and hopefully, to overcome.)

Though I understood that this initiation into my own dying process might blink out as suddenly as it had winked on, I did not dwell on this possibility. I didn’t want to wait to find out; didn’t want to waste time in limbo if the diagnosis was correct and I was dying.

More to the point — and here’s where things get really strange, where I veered into a decidedly metaphysical, transcendent orientation that from then on, never wavered — somehow this entire experience felt right, appropriate, exactly the journey I was meant to undergo now. Even if it turned into a cosmic joke, what mattered was that I grab hold of this unprecedented opportunity, chew it thoroughly, integrate its substance into my being, and surrender to its evolutionary thrust.

My single-minded intensity and focus stemmed partly from the apparent gravity of the situation, and partly from the timing — in case I had only two weeks, I needed to get going, make a plan.

This was Sunday morning. I couldn’t make appointments until Monday. Hopefully I would get in to see both doctors that day. And if not Monday, then Tuesday. I jotted down notes reminding me to call them in the morning.

Meanwhile, the greater part of me was still engaged in an unswerving descent from the harshly lit realm of personality into the mysterious netherworld of soul. From that vantage point I was sensing Death as a long-awaited living presence. Dying felt like home. I was going home.

Really? Do I really mean that? In the midst of what seemed to be an entirely natural drift into what I can only describe now as a kind of euphoria, I suddenly woke up to the fact that this weirdly romantic swoon with death was my internal condition, incompatible with day to day life on earth — not to mention with saving my life!

But, strangely enough — and I tell this exactly as it happened, or (in the interests of accuracy) exactly as I remember it — instantly this thought appeared: I don’t want to “save my life.”

 

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