My mind has been swept away so often in the past few years that I really do need to start being careful. I can get carried away with the words of an author to such a degree that I become an instant believer. I then have a tendency to believe I have then been chosen to pass the information onto as many people as I can. I try to become a master of knowledge that I haven’t even comprehended myself. Then sometimes I come across differing opinions and I get confused. Who is right and who is wrong? Of course, often, there is no right or wrong – simply opinion. The beauty of which is summed up marvelously in memories of two very different books sparked by the death of my Nan.
When my Nan was recently admitted to hospital after suffering a heart attack I assumed that her sand was slowly disappearing down the glass. I was morbidly curious about how she was feeling. I really wanted to know if she feared death, welcomed it or didn’t even think about it? Did she think she was going to meet up with her late husband of 58-years or did she think she was going to close her eyes and that would be that?
I went to visit her in hospital and she was in fine fettle. She was chirpy and joking about how gorgeous her doctor was, so I took the opportunity to ask her some questions about her heart attack and her brush with death. She told me that she never felt any pain when she had her attack, but she did experience some strange hallucinations. I asked her if she wanted to die and she told me that she wanted to live for at least another ten years. I told her that in order for this wish to come true she would have to pull her finger out of her arse. Sitting in a chair watching TV all day long was not going to provide her with the ten years she needed.
In my blog post The Pick of the Week: Blood Lines and Love Lines I wrote about her death. Prior to her second admittance to hospital the spritely Nan who held that conversation with me was gone and she had been replaced by a lost soul. When I went to see her at her home I could tell than she had given up. It was the clearest case of life energy leaving a body that I have ever seen. Her human body had become a shell and all her life and gone somewhere else. I went to Monte Carlo and heard that she was admitted to hospital for the second time and I was happy. Then I was told she was being discharged because, medically, there was nothing wrong with her. She died on the day of her discharge. Her life energy looked into the future and didn’t like what it saw. There was no hope, no enjoyment and no life. She simply gave up and her life slowly drained away.
In The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle there is a chapter called Moving Deeply Into The Now. In this chapter Tolle talks about the delusion of time. He questions people’s beliefs that time is precious because Tolle doesn’t believe time even exists. In Tolle’s own words.
Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion
He believes that the more you focus on the past and the present the more likely you are to take your mind off the most important thing – the now. He says that nothing ever happened in the past and nothing will ever happen in the future. Instead everything happens in the now. If you think about what he is saying from a purely logical standpoint then he is correct and I don’t dispute what he is saying. What I do find fascinating is his view that the mind creates an obsession with the future as an escape from an unsatisfactory present, and an obsession with the past to secure identity. But did my Nan die because there was no future? When she looked into her own illusion, was her salvation remiss by its absence? What if the illusion of the future had provided her with something to live for? What if the future (that does not exist) was enough to keep her alive for another ten years – wouldn’t that have been a great illusion?
When talking about his life in the concentration camps of World War II, Dr. Viktor E. Frankl explains in Man’s Search For Meaning.
Any attempt at fighting the camp’s psychopathological influence on the prisoner by psychotherapeutic or psycho-hygienic methods had to aim at giving him inner strength by pointing out to him a future goal to which he could look forward.
He then went on to tell the most amazing (and true) tale of life, hope, despair and death. His Senior Block Warden confided him one day. He told him of a strange dream where a voice had told him that he could wish for anything and it would come true. The man wished for the war to be over (for him) on March thirtieth. Frankl said that the Senior Block Warden seemed full of hope that his dream would come true, until the time drew closer and it became apparent that the war would not end. On the 29th March the Senior Block Warden suddenly became ill and ran a high temperature. On the 30th March – the day his prophecy told him his war would end – he lost consciousness. On the 31st March he was dead. To all outward appearances he had died of typhus, but Frankl knew that this mans loss of faith and subsequent disappointment lowered his body’s immune system sufficiently enough for the typhus infection to have fatal consequences. His lack of faith that his dream would come true eventually killed him. In a strange twist his prophecy actually came true – his war did end on the 30th March.
Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee (CC & Flickr.com)