Lights

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Today’s post won’t be windy. I’m winded. I had no idea that I was going to be so busy and feel as if I’m accomplishing so little. Yesterday evening was our last night with Trevor and Karen, who came down to Cairns to visit us. It was, of course, bittersweet. We left Eunie alone for a while to get pizzas to bring back to the room to eat while we watched a couple of movies.

Naturally, I had my camera with me and there is no such a thing as killing time if you have your camera in your hand. You can divert your attention to creating something, even if it is inconsequential. As I saw the variety of lights on the Esplinade, I got to thinking about lights. Brilliant, eh?

Man’s lights and the lights of nature – both illuminate. Some of man’s lights are beautiful. Think of the streams of glory from a stained glass window or the adrenaline beauty of fireworks. Others are horrid, such as the deadly flash of a thermonuclear bomb. Nature too provides a variety of lights, benign, such as the moon, or nurturing or deadly as chance may be in the sun’s rays:

Some of man’s lights are open to a wide range of artistic interpretation. Here I captured the tail lights of passing cars in a fifteen second exposure with the camera rather shakily balanced on top of a post:
The cars are mere streaks. Most people have blurred into non-existence. As I looked at the image in the preview, the title came to me instantly. Watch Long Enough – Everything Changes.

But some lights are different. They illuminate, but not through the sensations of the eyes. They illuminate the soul.

I positioned myself quite a distance away for this shot, so I think that I can honestly say that it is candid:Trevor and Karen dropped everything that they were doing, blew a bunch of hard-earned cash, and came to be with friends to share our suffering, cheer us up , provide necessary counsel, cry with us, laugh with us and shine some much needed light on the subject of hope. This is not to mention the practical details which Karen helped Eunice with – ones which I am not yet ready to face.

How many friends can you count that would do that?

This is the light of treasure.

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I wish that I had some news today. Eunie stayed up late last night watching movies and went to bed happy. Her colour seems to be improving – she’s less yellow. Her appetite has also improved. These are good signs for her strength which she is going to need in the future. We have not yet heard from the oncologist about our move to Brisbane, but it is only Tuesday afternoon as I write this. My own condition is fragile and I know that I cannot allow this to continue. I know that I will be better able to cope when we are in Brisbane with our friend Val, because she is a strong, take-charge woman and takes no nonsense from me. I will have to toughen up considerably to keep her from beating me up for being a wimp.

After decades of softening myself, sensitising myself, growing absurdly empathetic and always, always, learning that the more I give the more of what I need that I receive, I find myself now suddenly weak and ineffectual in situations where I need to be forceful and decisive.

It is a puzzlement.

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11 Responses to “Lights”

  1. Roztafarian Bill Says:

    Jan,
    Blessings to you, and all whom you love. Lovely post about Light, and Friends. I am glad for you that you have Trevor and Karen, and I am guessing, such a host people like them in your life.
    Your being ‘down’ is certainly to be expected, given your concern for Eunie, but could also be external to that, at least in part. May I encourage you to seek out information about the cancer? The American Cancer Society was the first hit I found. Getting knowledge will help inform your decisions, and possibly give you some empowerment, which will help alleviate being down. Some other pointers I’ve heard: get active, get busy, engage distractions, and count your blessings.
    Thank you for your posts. I’m praying.
    -Rozta’ Bill

  2. HELEN JONES Says:

    Jan and Eunie – just been chatting with ali hughes who is in the uk visiting her parents, heard your news and wanted to log on and say we are thinking of you both as you deal with the news of eunie’s health, you have amazing support and the best medical care so we know you are in good hands, keep strong and take time out to have a hug, we will follow your news and wish you the best of everythingx helen and martin jones

  3. kristy Says:

    Positive thoughts and prayers! I did google a bit, there is positive thought out there with new treatments! Take care!

  4. Steven Goodheart Says:

    Hey MadDog! Just checkin’ up on you and Eunie and things.

    I stand in awe of your friends Trevor and Karen, and I don’t know them a 100th part of what you do, but I can feel their Big Love and Hearts all the way to here in Berkeley. What an inspiration they are, and course, they deserve a big “metta” huge too, and got it!

    My dear friend, what you describe of yourself and your “ineffectualness” is what just about any guy does, and goes through, in a situation like this. We are fixers, doers, dare I say “men are from Mars” as that pop psych book said not too inaccurately. When stuff like this comes up, which we can’t fix or do something about, it pushed all our male “do something” buttons, and it’s an utter fail, and we flounder.

    As your Zen buddy, and speaking from years of working this kind of stuff in Zen, I urge you not to fight these feelings so much as to observe them with compassion yet without holding on to them as essential you. Kind of like you’d observe some interesting beastie out on the reef that you know the genus or family of, but maybe not this particular species. The pull will be to self-identify with the feelings of ineffectualness, weakness, etc, but your job is to just notice as the good naturalist you are —not to fight, not to resist, but just *be* with what’s going on in your heart and head. Does that make sense?

    As you do this, (and also notice how or when you may be beating yourself up, and other kinds of thing having to do with wrong views of yourself,) you will find you are able to gain some space to remember and appreciate what’s good and strong in you. And what all your friends love about you. This loving spaciousness is a good place to be, but it means “fighting without fighting,” letting the feelings come and go, just as you would let the waves rock you out on the reef. If you see yourself about to get dashed, you adjust accordingly, and come back to paying attention with interest and compassion to what’s arising.

    I’m guessing you know enough this way I’m talking about to get this in a helpful way. My dear friend, you actually have great strengths, and so much to offer; your essential you hasn’t abandoned you, but all the surface stuff that isn’t grounded in that most essential you, which is loving, good, intelligent, and capable, is falling apart in all the stress. This is what we all experience in such situations, but there is a way not to lose touch with ourselves, and I hope these “fingers pointing as the moon” are helpful.

    I may be thousands of miles away, but I’m sticking by you, buddy and will continue to do so. You and Eunie are greatly loved and you deserve to see a humane and good path you both can walk through this challenge.

    With great affection and love,
    Steve

  5. MadDog Says:

    Bill, your comment about seeking help is well taken. When we get settled in Gympie, I’m going to get involved with a cancer support group there. The temptation to sleep is almost overpowering, but I know that is a symptom of depression, so I get up and get to work. There’s no shortage of THAT! Thanks for your prayers, Bill. – Jan

  6. MadDog Says:

    Thank you, Helen, for your kind thoughts. I didn’t know Ali was in the UK. You are right about being where we are. We have many friends here and the medical treatment is the best one can get anywhere. Your message is welcome, Helen and Martin. Stay tuned for news as often as I can find time to post. I’m trying to do it daily, but sometime’s it simply isn’t possible. – Jan

  7. MadDog Says:

    Kristy, I’m to scared to venture into Google, but thanks for passing along the positive information. When I get settled into Brisbane, I’ll get into a support group and let some more information into my mind.

  8. MadDog Says:

    Steve, I only wish that I had time to compose a suitable reply to your very helpful message. I have read every word several times and find a great number of excellent thoughts for me to consider. I’ve never before been assaulted by such a wide range of negative emotions. Profound sadness for Eunie, naked fear, self pity, a merciless longing for the tranquil past – I can sense these feelings trying to rip me to bits.

    Now is the time when I need to be a the kind of man that I must be to get Eunie through this. You have said many things in your message which will help me to be that man.

    Bless you my friend, and peace be with you,
    Jan

  9. Steven Goodheart Says:

    Thanks, my friend. In some ways, you’ve been preparing for this your whole life, by the transformation of your heart and character over the years, and in your mutual love. You have not come this far to fail at the end. To see what’s going on with mindfulness and compassion will be a huge help to you, and your own particular (and in many ways, to me, very Zen) way of being yourself will give your strength, as well, of course, as your prayers and the grace that always seems to appear when we open our hearts to Big Love.

    Peace to you too. I’ll be faithful in my support.

    Steve

  10. MadDog Says:

    Steve, an interesting way of thinking about it that hadn’t occurred to me, but does make sense. This is certainly not what I WANTED to be preparing for, but what it is is what it is. Thanks for your blessing of peace and your faithful support. – Jan

  11. Janice Says:

    I am enjoying reading the comments of your many friends around the world. I thank the Lord for them and the love they are extending to you. I guess if I have anything to add to it from my perspective it would be through the heart of one who has been taking care of my 100 year old mom for the last 8 years of her life. I have found that I have to go through a process of forgetting my own needs of the moment and focus my intentions on her, my beloved mom. Honestly, there is not always something I can do in the moment besides love her and minister to her difficult physical needs, some of which I never saw myself doing before that moment. Keeping her wonderful gusto for life and loving in my mind as I work with her restores my hope and helps me remember the many promises that she and I live by – and I know that the Lord is faithful.