Tag Archive: Journey

A Walk Alone

Some claim solitude leaves me to wander both through and beyond a dark foreign land (death). There’s no one single road, nor is there a map showing the way. Yet, if I can pass through, will I not find peace? Maybe my answer is not physical, but the very nature of why God called me to trust. Of course, there are steps, His and mine. And therein I find spirit of life walks with me. We walk together. And until I am ‘called,’  the world moves.

Given the fact a major stroke awaits at any moment, life propels onward ‒ there is work my employer requires, conference calls, deadlines, and debts to be paid. Life goes on regardless of how much of Thanksgiving week was spent lying in bed, hobbled by hip pain beginning Monday, November 23rd. Since I had no fall, no bruising, no trauma, and based upon symptoms, osteoarthritis is the likely culprit. The right hip, yeah the one which had only inconveniently plagued me until now, decided to perform a full-on assault. Every movement was either a dull ache or produced noticeable suffering. Walking required further leverage of a cane, and sitting was ‒ as I would simply put ‒ a bitch.

A friend might say to a doctor, “He won’t tell you this, but he is suffering.” Truth be told, the past few days had been an assortment of pain. However, no such friend knows the burden. I ate even as Advil and Tylenol percolated throughout my bloodstream.  Like almost all parts of this journey, I was alone when I read recent medical results. I sat alone in my favorite recliner while medication turned upside down every 6-8 hours. As terrifying as it is, it is a solitary journey. At a very gut level ‒ the soul ‒ it’s what I’ve come to embrace. 

There’s some portion of every soul for which the journey must be alone.  Sure, there are parents, lovers, friends, lovers, coworkers and others who can, and often will, assist, but there’s an integral part that is solely our own. No matter how much I would like to have a friend who could support me, there’s no possible way to transfer the pain. It is my ‘cross,’ mine and mine alone.

Supposedly the Buddha said, “If for company you cannot find a wise and prudent friend who leads a good life, then, like a king who leaves behind a conquered kingdom, or like a lone elephant in the elephant forest, you should go your way alone. Better it is to live alone; there is no fellowship with a fool. Live alone and do no evil; be carefree like an elephant in the elephant forest.” I think I understand the reason for the advice.  

People who are on a path of spiritual growth learn not everyone is on the same path. Even though we are all, essentially on the same journey (see Falling Through the Cracks, where 90% will pass from one of six diseases), it’s important to choose what we allow into our minds.  The Buddha basically says to try and associate with “wise and prudent” people, but don’t get lost following a crowd, just because you want some affiliation. Real spirituality is not a social practice; most of the time, it is a private endeavor between God and you. It’s an individual matter. I was tagged as being monolithic, an impersonal, sometimes non-political, structure that is invisible, yet indivisible. True, but not quite.

I am privy to all the thoughts and feelings I tend to hide from the world. My journey is personal, deeply personal. I am continually looking for transcendence, but I am also hoping we can look past indifference to one another. To some extent, God choosing to dwell where least likely to be looked (within the depths of my soul) is genius. And maybe, just maybe, by the time I meet God and Ms. K., I will be fully awake and the soul will fully comprehend.

Master: You see only what the eye sees. What the soul sees cannot be denied.

Student: Will not the soul, too, be denied in death?

Master: No. The soul always sees.

Student: Yet the body dies.

Master: Does the sun die?

Student: It does not shine at night.

Master: It shines somewhere. You just cannot see it.

Man downhill observing mountain landscape at sunset

Forgiveness is a tough exercise. It’s necessary for peace in life. It’s natural to hold onto the wrongs of life and vowing to get even at some future day. Unfortunately, it rarely works out.

I passed by a COVID patient wishing for some old-time jazz music. I am not talking about the 1970’s jazz scene. I’m referring to classical legends such as Glen Miller. The gentleman tried humming PEnnsylvania 6-5000, but couldn’t remember the lyrics. PEnnsylvania 6-500 was a Glenn Miller hit lasting twelve weeks. Miller wrote the song in an era when most local telephone calls in large cities were dialed directly and required an operator.

PEnnsylvania 6-5000 was recorded by many stars, including the Andrew Sisters. Unfortunately for the Andrew Sisters, Maxene and Patty Andrews had a falling out. Some claim the issue was due to a family estate, others claim it was from show royalties, and according to a documentary, Maxene Andrews lived two parallel lives: the professional and personal. For years Maxene Andrews had a relationship with her manager, Lynda Wells.

For thirteen weeks, the Andrew Sisters sang together but never spoke to one another. LaVerne passed in 1967, Maxene in 1995, and Patty in 2013. Maxene and Patty never reconciled.

I hoped the patient I passed was not in a similar situation. I pulled out a cell phone, opened YouTube, and placed the phone by the man’s ear. The Andrew Sisters filled the room with angelic harmony. The softly smiled and comfortably rested his hands on his chest.

There’s always a hearing. It comes to us in dreams, or maybe a song, after a reminder of some long lost love or slighted friend. Perhaps we’ll hear that voice at a gravesite, hospital, or in the wake of a simmering feud. However, it comes, it is the voice of God calling, beckoning to remind us of the power and love in forgiveness.

Some of us will wrestle with its authentication. Was it divine? Maybe it was the wine? Yes? No? But if we’re willing to risk abandoning that which matters so little, perhaps we can discern its lesson and experience the power of love – the ability to forgive. The power of God’s love propels us to understand that we can’t live in the now while holding onto yesterday.

Our journey will define our lives. The best route is one that lived in physical, spiritual, geographical, and emotional balance. Yeah, we’ll all walk the valley of doubt, difficulty, anger, and sometimes hatred. Through all of it, we’ll learn to navigate, meet God in the doorway of eternal love, and finally reconcile all that we were, all we are, and all we’ll ever become. It should be the warmth of intimacy, not the allure of fault.

A few minutes later, I left my jazz aficionado asleep, caught in the memories of an earlier life. I could catch snippets and slight moments of a dream. Was that dream from early life? The Andrew Sisters? Glen Miller? Or was the dream of some long feud remaining unresolved? Hard to say. Whatever dream occupied him, I hoped it indeed was peaceful. I hope it was love.

Just a little over a week to surgery. Time to get some of this tumor out. I still haven’t told many people — I kind of arc around trying to find something to do. Not so much to keep the mind preoccupied, but more so because my current position is rather damn dull.

In regards to the surgery, I have no grand expectation of the outcome. Although, admittingly, I feel embarrassed. Why? Well, I think everything will come ok, that all this drama was for naught. I presume, post-surgery, some cute nurse will poke me in the shoulder and say “arise.” And just as Christ command, in awe, everyone will clap. Such fairy tales seem overrated. At surgery end, I will get up and walk. If I don’t, get me a television, a remote control, kettle chips, and a diet coke. I am ok with the outcome, regardless of the path to which God commands I endure. Sure, I wish to have tumors out. But with the diagnosis of an additional tumor, I strive to place one foot in front of the other and walk onward. 

My tale of woe is nowhere near as others. Dare to think God has dealt you a lousy hand, take a look at the Kobe Bryant or the Mauser family. Sometimes comparing life’s misery keeps one in check.

I am not a true warrior. You know, the guy who saved many. Such a viewpoint should never be mistaken for me. That’s not to say I didn’t do my part. I did. But I no longer consider my sacrifice anything special. Real heroes lay enshrined in national and local cemeteries. Those heroes fought injustice, battles, defeated Stalinism, communism, and hatred. Real heroes are victims who rose against the likes of Epstein and Weinstein. We should celebrate their sacrifice, not mine.

I can’t give this tumor more power than it has. It’s a foe that has no face, no body, nor motto. It does have an x-ray, yet appears as another blob. However, the deeper foe is age. Like David in Psalm 71:9, the very passage of time is a trial, and I utter unto God:

“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails.”

I’m assured He shall not.

In more youthful days, I ignored aging. The nature of humanity eventually outstripped youthful laughter. A year post-diagnosis, I accept certain ignoble truths: I neither bought this tumor nor the second. Amazon didn’t deliver it. Neither did a stork.  Accepting life and its frailty requires a different camera lens. I used to think being sick was a gift. In pure form, sickness taught many lessons. Yet I looked at it all wrong. I am a gift. I’m unsure why it took so many years to understand. Like a child, God held me abundantly. And I grew wiser and more mature. I wish more could have seen. 

Nine days from now, I will walk an uncharted course. There will be new roads with new choices. In preparation, I read Chapter 64 of the Dao De Jing. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” 

And how will my journey begin? When I get off the operating table and walk, foot by foot — step by step.

%d bloggers like this: