Celebrating Sixty-seven Years on the Razor’s Edge

Om or Aum the mystical or sacred syllable in the Indian religions, which symbolizes the all-encompassing basic substance: God, Allah, Being, Source, Light, whatever is your preferred pointer.

The Hindu Om or Aum symbolizes the all-encompassing basic substance: God, Allah, Being, Source, Light, whatever is your preferred pointer.

“Rise, awaken, seek the wise and realize. The path is difficult to cross like the sharpened edge of the razor, so say the wise.” Katha Upanishads, verse 1.3.14

SURPRISED TO HAVE MADE IT TO SIXTY-SEVEN

photo-on-2014-03-31-at-17-08In gratitude today, I celebrate sixty-seven years of life, forty-seven years with my world-class son, and sixteen years of survival beyond my medically predicted expiration date.

About a week or two after the CitySon Philosopher was born.

About a week or two after the CitySon Philosopher was born, Gravesend, Brooklyn, N.Y.

In 1999, I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) and given two years to live. (No, I have never smoked in my life.) Thanks to the boundless patience and kindness of my son and the compassion and good offices of an extraordinary medical team, I’m still here, sometimes home-bound and always bound to toting an oxygen tank. These complications don’t keep me from enjoying the CitySon Philosopher, my beautiful, smart, fab and funny daughter-in-law, and the friendship of many including my friends from our Group for people with life-threatening illnesses, my neighbors, the members of our spiritual congregation/social justice network and my arts community of poets, writers, artists, musicians and bloggers.

With cousins Dan and Chris, like brothers to me.

With my cousins Dan and Chris, like brothers to me, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York

Regarding the latter, I hold Jingle Yanqui (no longer online) most especially in heart. Her vision for forming a cohesive and supportive online poetry community has facilitated a network of poets I could not have hoped to manage on my own. It makes up for being unable to take part in off-line poetry readings and groups.

With Mom circa 1980, San Francisco

With Mom circa 1980, Park Merced in San Francisco

Without a doubt, I cherish the friendships and shared values among The BeZine core team members and guest contributors. They rock … and they’re helping to rock the world into peace.

Senior year of High School

At my Aunt Yvonne’s: junior year of high school when being a writer and poet was just a dream, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York

This is perfect. Unable to find out who created it. If it's yours, please let me know and I will credit or take it down as you like.

This is perfect. This is exactly what it feels like to have the writer’s eye and ear. Different perspective. I love this illustration. Unable to find out who created it. If it’s yours, please let me know and I will credit or take it down as you like.

Celebrating poetry, prose, music and art with you through your books and blogs numbers among my most treasured gifts. Thank you for your honesty, for sharing your wisdom, your joys and sorrows, your laughter and pain and very human folly, your faith and despair, the rough knobby wool of the human condition. As my workload and commitments have expanded over the years and my disease progresses, I don’t get to visit as often as I like … but I do peek in on you and you continue to endear yourselves to me.

LESSONS FROM THE SHARPENED EDGE OF THE RAZOR

Over the past few days, I have been thinking about life lessons learned from years of living – as you do too – on the razor’s edge:

  • We are not meant to compare ourselves with others. Our beauty is absolute, not relative.
  • Freedom is a state of mind. It requires a recognition of  Madison Avenue values and programming and a disconnect from them and from any other received values that are not consistent with our own inner truth.
  • Committing art is spiritual practice.
  • We are meant to immerse ourselves in beauty: family, friends, flowers, music, poetry …
  • As long as we live on this earth, we have to make a living, but we were not meant to be wage-slaves. Find the balance between making a living with making a life.
  • Health is a relative thing: We will always be more-or-less healthy. We may have to modify our activities because of health challenges and/or aging, but as long as we’re alive, there’s no reason not to stay engaged.
  • When we receive a terminal diagnosis, it takes time to process and to deal with the shock. Eventually we find our way to peace and continue our lives, albeit within the limits of disability. The terminus – as you can see from my experience – may be a long way off.
  • The only difference between people who are living with a terminal diagnosis and those who are not is that the former are no longer in denial.
  • Don’t turn good time into bad by worrying about what is an inevitable part of life. There comes a point when we accept that things are just the way they should be even though we don’t understand the whys and hows.
  • As long as we insist on identifying with the painful experiences of our lives, with the insults received at the hands of others, we feel desolate and somehow less.  The order of the day is reframe and reinvent. The need is to rewrite our stories.
  • People who are at peace with themselves are never cruel. If someone hurts or has hurt us, it’s because of their own pain.
  • Best policy: let go, trust yourself and get on with life.
  • Consciousness is not the mind attached to the brain. It is a Light independent of the physical. We may not always have form or human personality but we have always been and we always will be. The challenge is to be a worthy spark of Being.
  • Love – true love – is not romantic love. Love is found by seeing the reflection of Being in ourselves and all life. It is the ability to recognize the sacred everywhere and in everyone, even in our frail and fallible selves, in the most unfortunate conditions and the most unfortunate people.

May every day be a rebirth for you in the light of Love.

In metta,

Jamie

Metta – the Buddhist practice of holding self and others in loving kindness, a value shared by the world’s religions.

A sweet kind photo-grid made for me today by my cousin Dan. Meaningful, memorable photos all.

A sweet kind photo-grid made for me today by my cousin Dan. Meaningful, memorable photos all.

Family photographs are under copyright.  Please be respectful. The Om illustration is in the public domain.

37 thoughts on “Celebrating Sixty-seven Years on the Razor’s Edge

  1. For some reason, I can’t find this via the browser on my iPad and it won’t let me log in to comment either! Probably means my iPad is getting out of date. Grr! Hence my message via FB messenger.

    This is a fascinating and informative read. It not only reminds me of what a prodigious writing machine (definitely the wrong word; the right one will come to me some time this afternoon, maybe!) you truly are, but also, in spite of your life’s challenges, how you refresh everything you touch with your pen, accompanied by a kind of love and gratitude that is oh so gently, yet firmly life affirming.

    And, judging by the date of this piece, you are five days younger than me. That makes you young! However, I now see a comment above that suggests you are one day older than me. We’re still young 😉

    May I wish you, belatedly, a very, very happy birthday, Jamie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Best Wishes my friend! I will be 65 in August. I am happy that you are ‘who you are’ and that you have had patience with over the years. I know I have been difficult and trying at times but I continue to admire you and your fortitude and diligence in that you are determined to live life to the fullest. You remind me of my daughter. Be well. Metta

    Like

  3. I celebrate your life and that our paths have crossed. I also rejoice that age has given us new perspectives on life, so nicely expressed in your words of wisdom. I enjoyed them as my head nodded in agreement. Blessings to you today and in the days ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy Birthday Jamie. You inspire me so much. Among my several lung ailments I was recently diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. I looked it up and saw it gives a life expectancy of 2 to 5 years. In the past few months I’ve been playing beat the clock trying to accomplish as much as I can with the time I have. I don’t want to waste a moment of my days. I just turned 57 and now I look forward to 67 thank you for giving me that hope. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy Birthday and congratulations on defying your prognosis. Thank you for distilling what you have done and learned into meaningful wisdom and action. May your remaining days be many and may your journey of fulfillment continue its brisk pace.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Jamie, I’ve just done a Double-Acrostic, All-Rhyming Limerick for the occasion. Have illustrated and calligraphed it as well. The first letters and last letter spell your first and last names:

        Jamaica may thrill, undenied,
        And Nawlins is burst full with pride,
        MARVEL at, though, who’s hied
        In the clouds with her stride,
        Energetically shifting the tides.

        I’ll send the image to your e-mail address. Again, Happy Birthday!

        Liked by 1 person

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