Yesterday I went to see my friend Nicole, lying in a hospital bed in her livingroom and attached to tubes that are keeping her alive. Her mind is as sharp as ever, though, and she wanted to run by me ‘the hard stuff.’
To be, or not to be? was essentially the question, and without holding back or resorting to niceties, we turned it over and over unflinchingly, coming to no definite course of action yet, but agreeing that while death will eventually end her life as Nicole, she, like all of us, will proceed to the next phase of existence in another form and dimension, her consciousness intact.
But both she and I will be losing the very friend with whom we can say all this straight out to each other, and with so much love – and we cried.
It was the second time this week I was reminded that the world turns and even as it changes, ultimately nothing is truly lost.
The first time was in Princeton, where family gathered at Michael’s house for the new year. We took wintry walks in the woods, feasted on Sofia’s cooking and hung out in the cozy house while the winds blew outside, catching up with one another.
Rebecca and I wanted to hear what was new in Astronomy, as discoveries are happening every day, it seems - gravitational waves, dark energy, dark matter – and Michael grinned and said mysteriously,
“Binary black holes!”
For the next hour he showed us computer simulations of 2 fuzzy dark balls – ‘black holes’ - curving around each other in spirals, getting closer and closer until they met, merged and became one single, huge black hole. He said that the whole process took untold millennia, but what was so amazing was that the instruments to detect it had only recently been invented – just in time for astronomers to witness the actual merging happen!
Well, I can imagine that, being one of those Pollyannas who believes in fortuitous synchronicities and the ultimate goodness of the world.
So I am wondering how we might we use this model of old things cycling out of worn-out patterns into things new and different, as a way of turning our Crump-conundrum into a positive opportunity for change? In other words, how do we use this revolting development to reach for our radical and best selves? How might we dream up and create the best possible next turn of the cycle based on how the world actually works - dynamically balanced, all Things interconnected in Time and Space, powered by love and always changing?
Right now it is based mostly on separation and greed, and an astonishing lack of understanding about the complexities of the biological world.
Thinking of change makes me remember what it was like to give birth to my babies, starting with the miracle of sex. Then, the long months of waiting, the morning sickness, the burden of the growing belly stretching me in every direction until my back could hardly carry it, the heightened fears of pain and failure.
And then, the agony of transition as the world prepared me to bring another being into it, and fear as the contractions of labor grew more painful and closer together, when I thought I might die in the process, it hurt so much! As my body went hard and my breath got knocked out of me, I changed my mind about this baby more than once. Who needs this? Why would anyone do this a second time? But my belly went rock hard again and again with searing pain, and in its grip I could do nothing but grunt and drool.
It got harder, then harder. I was a raging fire, I was a victim of torture, something tearing me asunder never to be the same again!
Once my baby finally emerged into the light, I was never the same again. My life was changed irrevocably by this new presence, this slimy new being still attached to me by a cord as my heart opened into a whole new world of possibility, the miracle of his birth changing me forever.
It take courage to give birth to a new baby, and grit, but if women have been doing this for as long as humans have been on the earth, then all the rest of us can agree to do what we’re being called upon to do now, which is to meet the challenge of the world face to face and take it on!
Think of Crump as a kickstarter.
In childbirth, when contractions start, you cannot change your mind! Once the transition of labor is underway, you have no choice but to follow wherever it leads you. I learned irrevocably for myself that the best way to meet it is to jump right in with both feet running, and go for it, however difficult it might be. You don’t really have a choice. Once the baby is on its way, you might as well participate with everything you’ve got because there’s a whole new world waiting for you on the other side, and you’d be crazy to miss it!
I know – I’ve done it 3 times.
As I was leaving Nicole’s bedside, she asked me if I was working on a new piece.
“Sort of,” I said. “I want to say something about how everything changes, but I can’t figure out how to start. Oh, there’s a thought! May I use you?”
Our eyes met, held a moment, and she smiled,
“Of course,” she said quietly.
So I did.
This is for you, Nicole.