This beautiful book (the cover art is really beautiful) was handed to me by a friend and, though my wife already had a copy, we decided to keep it so I could read it and tag it all I wanted. Someone had already gone ahead and written in the book in pen (someone called Marion Woodman) so I didn’t feel as bad about adding my notes.
This book is made up of diary excerpts from a period in Woodman’s life when she was diagnosed and treated for cancer; the entries are from November 1993 to April 1995. It is now 2014, 20 years later, and Woodman is still alive.
Her dedication to life, to studying life and being fully present really comes across and is very inspirational. At one point she goes through all her photo albums and her family photo albums and burns all but a select few of the pictures in order to simplify her life to the point where there is no clutter to interfere with her ability to perceive life in all its subtleties and also her ability to exactly connect intention/visualizations to physicality.
I strongly recommend this book and I’ll now add some excerpts.
Bone is also about the stark truth of growing older. (…) What does it mean to be an elder in this culture? What are my new responsibilities? What has to be let go to make room for the transformations of energy that are ready to pour through the body-soul? I don’t want to be here if I can’t carry my own weight. As life asks new things of me, I feel I must pause, go inward, and ask, “What is my weight now? What are my new values? Who am I and not-I at this stage? Do I have the courage to live with this evolving me?”
Death present in cancer was death asking to be accepted into my life.
Ross and I went grocery shopping today. As we drove past St. Jo’s I tried to understand I was going in there tomorrow to be operated on for cancer. Dear God, it is amazing how we go about the ordinary tasks in the face of the mystery.
Mysticism must rest on crystal clear honesty, can only come after things have been stripped down to their naked reality. – Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life
This walk with Death makes me realize yet deeper that ther is no freedom without discipline–physically, emotionally, spiritually.
The anorexic takes the rage in and kills herself; the adolescent boys take it out and kill the power-crazy drunken patriarchs who are their fathers or surrogate fathers.
Repressed energy returns to haunt us in symbol and symptom.
What we [Marion and her husband Ross] are experiencing is what a Japanese martial arts master once explained to me. What you watch for in your opponent is a suki–a moment when his mind goes out of his body. If you are present, your conscious mind in your body will know instantly if his conscious mind leaves his body. He is finished once that happens. We aren’t sparring, just holding presence. We are accepting the gifts of science that can spare my life immediately; we are also focusing on spiritual and alternative medicines for the future. We’re relaxing into the blend of science and soul.
Simplifying becomes my total focus. I’m noting how anxious I become when I fail to simplify or cannot simplify because of what starts happening around me–phone, TV, letters, ad infinitum. I believe that failure to simplify could lead me back into cancer because I would lose touch with my life vibration–my tone that sustains my life force.
Anxiety is stripped away by concentrated listening and perceiving. Concentrated vision operating in all the senses is what I mean by simplifying. The more I listen to my soul, the more clearly I hear the truth of other people, of animals, birds, the universe.
I must stay in touch with whatever keeps me focused on the still point–the place of exact harmony in body and psyche. Simplify life to that point where the dance can happen–the dance between consciousness and the unconscious. So long as I constantly allow other things to interfere, I will never find the moments in each day to reach those listening points of harmony–those seeing points of perception.