This is a time of contradiction and juxtaposition.
As Mary and I prepare to join her immediate family for a joyous July celebration of her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, we simultaneously prepare for what appears to be the relatively imminent death of my step-father from metastasized pancreatic cancer which is unresponsive to chemotherapy. With hopes that he can live to see their 30th wedding anniversary in December, I also realize that his quality of life may decline to such an extent that prolonged survival may only spell prolonged suffering. There’s another poignant contradiction---life’s prolongation actually increasing suffering. It is a conundrum often faced by the family and medical providers of a dying person, if not also the person him- or herself.
Last week, Mary and I led another free public session of Laughter Yoga. It was a joyous and successful event, and many hearts seemed to open from the simple yet profound transformation that can occur when virtual strangers decide to laugh together in a spirit of willing childlike playfulness.
This week, we led a crisis debriefing session for the staff of an institution where a recent murder-suicide occurred. Rather than lead the participants through exercises to elicit laughter, we led this group through exercises and sharing to unburden themselves of the cognitive, emotional, and physical manifestations of being affected by a traumatic event, whether directly or indirectly.
How does one reconcile such contradiction in life? What is the magic formula that allows us to move from experience to experience, adjusting to variable conditions as we journey through those spaces?
I am honestly and simply struck and dumbfounded by the contradictions I see, and by the contradictions which inform and feed my life and the living of it. Do I have answers? Certainly not; only more questions, and a burning desire to learn how better to ride these waves.