Tag Archive: Grace


My trek through this disease reminds me of Vinko Bogataj. On March 7, 1970, A Wide World of Sports captured Bogataj’s third jump on the Heini Klopfer hill. Midway down Bogataj realized the ramp had become too fast. Attempting to lower his center of gravity and stop, he lost his balance, flew out of control, tumbled multiple times and crashed through a retaining fence before halting. Coordinating producer Dennis Lewin inserted Bogataj’s crash to coincide exactly with the words ‘… and the agony of defeat.’ (You can see the clip on YouTube’s Wide World of Sports intro, about the 13 second mark.) Life is filled with the cyclical nature of ‘the thrill of victory’ and ‘the agony of defeat.’ As you walk, almost everyone understands this yin and yang.

Everyone continually proceeds through the cyclic process of suffering and recovering from defeat.  At face value, 2020 seems loaded with fear, anxiety, and other hatred. And unlike the Stella Artois ‘Daydream’ commercial (which admittedly, I’ve personally viewed over 60+ times) the path remains uncertain. The journey is daunting.  You smile, restate a Psalm, Bible verse, famous quote, wear your charm, spew positive thoughts (because that’s what’s expected), but inside, 2020’s tastes like f’ing vomit.  I sometimes think everyone else is somehow favored, for they are free from my 30 years of pain. They are free of a death sentence that beckons at a moment’s notice. They are free from everything being ‘the last.’ 

I understand the felon’s torture. This morning would be the last cup of tea, the last good night’s sleep, the last great shower, the last great meal, the last great smile, the last thought, the last despair, and the last snippet of hope. Eventually, we crash. Life ends. And our last reach unto heaven remains inconclusive. “Do you think he made it into God’s hands?” “Unsure,” mumbles another. The notion that some find grace and beauty in every fall is a matter of perspective.  

No one ever knew me as someone who knew how to fall, but like Bogataj, I got up every time.  I also realized laughter saved many a day. Why? Because it can save the day. There’s a great deal of evidence that laughing improves both mental and physical health. Getting fired in 2010 was a horrific experience. After nearly six (6) weeks self-flagellation, I started to laugh. Captain Gerald Coffee was a POW for seven years during the Vietnam War. He claims he and the other American soldiers he was imprisoned with found solace in laughter, and it helped them make it through the harrowing experience.

I began laughing at my experience, the ridiculousness of taking one medical test after another with little hope of ever detecting that ‘fatal blood clot’ lying in wait to claim my life. Life’s absurdity, and all that could go wrong, deserve a laugh. A medical clinician recommended I eat a healthier diet. “You’ll be healthier,” she stated. Catching her error, “Oh. Sorry.” We busted out laughing. Comedian Demetri Martin once said, “The worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades, especially if your teammates are bad guessers.” Fortunately, I hope I’m not one of those who can be improved only via death. Therefore, I embrace the notion that laughter allows joy to flow into an otherwise joyless situation and forces fear out.  And with joy comes gratitude and love and hope. 

I simply let go of fear. Sure I think of death. Quite a lot in fact. I don’t fill my life with repetitive rehashing of what-might-have-been. I figure God will justifiably judge my arse in due time. I have to rejoice in what is, a simple cup of coffee, in friendships and love. I reach for hope, laughter of the soul, and unknowingly, even the most mirthless of situations can become sunnier.

I know it’s hard to find laughter and joy during fearful and self-doubting moments. Kobe Bryant once said, “I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I’m like, ‘My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don’t have it. I just want to chill.’ We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.”

Thus, my end life journey continually searches for the man (God) who will profoundly affect my life. He will probably review my life, painfully cry at some moments, and laugh at the most absurd failures. And from those moments within ‘the agony of defeat,’ God will embrace ‘the thrill of victory.’ In that moment, I shall no longer recognize the person from years past, for I will become anew. And looking behind me, I will see thousands of others just like me.

In the past several years, I’ve only told two people of visits from Ms. K: my case manager and a close friend. And thus far, I’ve only mentioned my Parkinson’s diagnosis to the readers of this blog and my therapist. Although I’ve dropped a few bread crumbs in my blog about my identity, I’ve kept my identity hidden and don’t fear exposure from my readers.

I have to admit; after Parkinson’s diagnosis, there were several occasions when I thought Ms. K. was nothing a delusion; for, as you may know, about 20% of Parkinson’s patients develop some form of hallucination. Delusions can lead to jealousy, persecution, aggression, and can pose safety risks to family members or caregivers. I will state that I have not experienced any such delusion. 

Allow me to explain. 

Ms. K. never told me to hurt someone, jump from a cliff, told me ‘they’ (whoever ‘they’ might be) were after me. Additionally, I’ve neither become upset, distraught, nor combative about her presence. She never appears during the day, does not appear daily, and doesn’t bug me when I’m alone. 

In fact, Ms. K. has only selectively appeared during meditation. Initially, she graced me with her presence in 2014. Inbetween 2014 and 2019, she never visited. 

In 2019, she reappeared (see Landing Zones). During the time she’s appeared, she’s said my time was limited, treated me like a friend, and said she would meet me when I die. That’s it.

Turns out, Ms. K. is a friend. She’s the friend I wish I had four decades ago and remains true to the values lived in life.

Ms. K. has never exalted herself and never fashioned something she could be proud of. Additionally, she’s never left God out of the picture and has never assisted me in building a monument unto myself. Lastly, she’s never let me live in pride. She pretty much tells me as it is. I can be right, I can be wrong, but I always receive her best. Lastly, her faith is Christlike and is based in love, and bathed in the belief she has in me and is not dependent upon some old rules.

A good friend has integrity, even when the bottom falls out. Although she never discussed the pain of her cancer battle, I envision she remained faithful to the end. She never compromised. And instead of finding why, she only embraced God knowing that He only would make the difference.

Right, Ms. K. is the true display of God’s awesome power and a reminder of God’s presence. There’s no lightning. No whirlwind. No voice from a burning bush. There’s just a voice of reason, a presence of commitment, and a bottomless bucket of grace, despite everything I’ve done. 

In the end, Ms. K.’s no illusion – she’s an actual presence of love. It’s that very presence God wishes us all to have.

That, my readers, is no delusion. It’s a friend.

healthcaregov_logoExperts from Google and other prominent technology companies are joining a so-called “tech surge” to fix the struggling HealthCare.gov website. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the surge includes “dozens” of people with expertise in the site’s key issues: reliability, stability, and large-scale operations.

Besides government employees, the surge includes employees from Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), as well as employees of software giants Red Hat (RHT) and Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500). The funny part … the tech giants HealthCare.gov are using are the very companies the National Security Administration spied upon.

Talk about irony!

The current NSA spy-gate is the epitome of how America turned on itself through fear; former ironclad moral concepts became open to debate and off-centered partisan positions.  Somewhere between terrorists attacking and media spun paranoia, we learned the wrong lessons and we’ll be suffering the consequences for decades.

America has become so bad and fear ridden that we seem to have lost our humor and the ability to see ample colors of beauty in each and every person. Therefore, unless you’re a conservative pundit, one must be a willing participant in the lame-stream media. Reinforced theology of hatred pour though our politics, served right onto palate where each of us unknowingly sips from the cup bigotry.

As Captain America ironically professed, “This Isn’t Freedom. This is Fear.” 

In a world of instant soup, instant access, instant internet and instant response, we’ve become fearful of a national healthcare policy. There is no instant healthcare. And many people with some very strange thoughts now claim that they alone can lead the masses unto the “promised land.” As the fictional President Andrew Shepard would say, “… They are interested in two things and two things only: a) making you afraid of it; and b) telling you who’s responsible.” These leaders are raised in partanship and hatred … nothing more, nothing less. Oftentimes, they are delusional at best.

From a Buddhist perspective, our experience of the world is only distorted and messed up because it is reflected in the messed up mirrors presented to us. To me, that definition meets both the current spy-gate and fear of HealthCare.gov. Our delusions see things in fear that aren’t really there. But we get taken in by the delusion. And even though it’s the same thing – they are reflecting something not there and then believing it IS there.

When we don’t like someone, they’re just bad. Hatred apprehends other people to be bad from their own side. So all of us become intrinsically bad. But of course there is no such thing as an intrinsically bad person.

In the case of healthcare, the Obama administration must ask from those upon whom we have spied upon. It’s funny how God puts one in a place to ask of our enemy for thing we need the most.

Grace and forgiveness.

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