Now that’s a concept.

I thank my friend and colleague David Mackenzie for reminding me of this possibility, which he learned from a friend of his dying from cancer.

Indeed.  What if nothing is wrong?

What if we held cancer, or any “calamity” for that matter, as just another blip on the radar screen of life and not the panic-filled death sentence we so often attribute to this news?

You might be thinking, “Easy for you to say; you made it.”  Actually, it’s not (and it wasn’t) easy for me to remember to hold life circumstances with so much equanimity.  It was, and remains, a very conscious choice.

And it takes practice.  For when things don’t go the way we like, we often label them as wrong.  But on the sine wave of life, is it not true that as long as there is health, there is illness; with fortune comes misfortune; and birth pretty much ensures death?  Why do we label one good and the other anathema?

Perhaps for reasons like psychological “safety.”  Resistance to change.  Fear of the unknown.  Attachment to the status quo.

I’m not suggesting we roll over and passively entertain life events with a plasticized “it’s all good” when in fact there may be grief, rage, disillusion and dismay to experience and perhaps respond to.  I am saying that railing against what it is and labeling life’s shocks as wrong may not be the most helpful way to move through any particular set of circumstances.

Should we want things to stay the way they are, we may have to move to a different planet.  For change seems to be the name of the game here.  If we’re attached to a certain outcome, or a certain lifestyle, or a certain anything, we can reasonably expect to have that wrested from our grip.  No matter what it is, at some point, it appears we have to give it up.  Why does this continue to come as a surprise?  And when it does, why do we label it as “wrong?”

How much do we lose when we resist the things that make us uncomfortable?  For really, there is much to gain by embracing these challenges.  For example:

  • the opportunity to dis-identify with the physical as the primary arbiter of reality;
  • practice releasing our judgments, expectations, demands and arrogance;
  • a reassessment of our beliefs and the opening to new possibilities;
  • experience of deep vulnerability and the parallel discovery of inner resources that carry us through;
  • the wonder of rebuilding bodily capacities we previously took for granted;
  • humility and a newfound ability to ask for help;
  • a feeling of overwhelming gratitude when it comes;
  • countless opportunities to serve;
  • the dissolution of our personas and re-building of relationships based on honesty and grief-tempered, even awe-inspired humanity;
  • the softening and opening of our hearts;
  • compassion that arises knowing that so many experience this and more;
  • the simplicity of days where everything but the bare essentials has dropped away;
  • a chance to reconsider, reprioritize and revamp our lives.

In short, when we remember to back up, take the long-range view, and see our lives in the context of a Universe unfolding and not just according to this week’s (or month’s or year’s) page in our Day-Timer, we stand to gain countless opportunities to become fuller, deeper and richer human beings.

And is anything wrong with that?