The birds were pissing me off. That lovely, sweet call they chirp to one another announcing the emergence of a glorious, new day was pissing me off. Friends going out to lunch pissed me off, too. The cloudy Seattle winter days had left us and were increasingly being replaced by bright, sunny days. People up here are very happy when that happens. Friends clad in their short sleeved shirts, sandals, and sunglasses; discovered again after a six month hibernation; chatting over a bite to eat, laughing; it all pissed me off. “Happy” and “fun” seemed so far from what I was capable of experiencing, and it was incredibly painful to witness it in others. Those were the thoughts I was having the morning I ultimately chose to live, May 8, 2015.
There are two people I attribute to saving my life. The first is Matt Kahn, a spiritual teacher and highly-attuned empathetic healer who happens to live in Seattle. Matt emits the most loving, calm energy. He’s hilarious, and the concepts he teaches are easily incorporated into everyday life. I have known Matt for three years, and over the course of those three years his popularity has grown tremendously. His monthly gatherings now sell out, his YouTube videos draw over 100,00 views, and he has written a best seller, “Whatever Arises, Love That.” I don’t know whether he does one on one sessions anymore, but in 2015, booking a session was a year out. In my desperation with my situation, I sent an email wondering if there was any way I could get an appointment with him. Unbeknownst to me, synchronistic forces involving a dear friend, Mike, and Matt’s partner, Julie, were conspiring, and I received an email back stating I had an appointment with him in 3 days, May 8, 2015.
Matt and I had a Skype call that lasted about an hour. What did Matt do or say that would make me want to live again? Here are a few of the things he said that impacted me profoundly.
“You are standing in line to the afterlife and it isn’t your time…I know the feeling of someone who's in the gravitational pull of death. I also know the gravity of someone who is deciding to die, is fast tracking it and it’s not their time. That’s where you are at. You are choosing to deteriorate, to die. You got to such a place of frustration that you were choosing death as a way to get out of it.”
He was right. Stated so obviously, he was right.
He talked about faith versus control. “At the end of the day you’re just someone who wants to change your experience. When you’re trying to make an experience different, change it, you’re not in reality, you’re in fantasy.” he said. Often Matt’s teachings incorporate “repeat-after-me”s to anchor in the teaching. He had me say:
“I’m just someone who wants to change my experience, and even if it changes, there will be something else I want to change. And, just by admitting these words, I am waking up in consciousness. I fear change, and I’ve even tried to be in charge of it, but the one thing I’ve never done is be completely honest about my motivations; and through absolute honest confessions, allow the change that I can’t change, to change me for the better. What if I let this experience polish me instead of burdening or bludgeoning me? There is no escape so why not let this make me wiser than ever? Why not let this make me more honest than ever?”
“I don’t have to get my way in order to be happy. Just because I’m not getting my way doesn’t mean I stop living or wait to die.”
Until that moment it had never occurred to me that dying was a way I could still be in control. I never even knew I had been trying to control my experience, trying to get “my way” as obvious as that is now. The image that kept coming to mind was of a little boy on the playground who picks up his ball and marches home because he doesn’t like the game everyone else wants to play.
He talked about hope versus faith and defined hope as “a yearning for a different circumstance while faith is what gets you through any circumstance. Giving up hope is letting go of attachment (to a different circumstance).”
Sitting with that concept was a big deal for me. I have never liked the word "hope" which is blasphemous in the world of cancer where the two words are intertwined. I get why hope is important. It’s better than believing you will die. Hope, to me though, still has disbelief and questioning woven within it, as in, “I hope I win the lottery”. In all the years I hoped to heal from cancer, with my singular focus on the outcome, wondering…Am I healed yet?…What is it going to take to heal?…What can I do next to heal?…Why haven’t I healed yet?…made me miss out on living. How many times was I preoccupied with my health and wasn’t present for my sons when they came home to visit? That realization alone makes me cry. How did this preoccupation fuel my fear when the outcome wasn’t what I wanted? How did this singular focus flavor my life to the point I was frustrated at being alive? The attachment to a different circumstance caused so much suffering for me. Could I now let go and allow faith to guide me where it wanted to take me? Could I remove my relationship with cancer from the believe/hope/disbelieve spectrum entirely, and place it in the faith category, knowing whatever happened in the future was in my highest interest? Honestly, a year later hoping for a different circumstance still presents itself to me, but at least it isn’t running my life anymore. I am living.
Finally, another Matt repeat-after-me (bolded text):
“I cannot be defined by my circumstance, but only by how I choose to survive them. I will let every circumstance bring the best out of me.” He then said, “You do not give up on life, you give up your attachment to what you think it’s supposed to be. You do not fight the illness, but fight for your right to live. You’re not fighting for control.”
“I will live no matter the condition I am in.” "This will be in your highest good if you participate with it, harmonize with it." he said, "Lying around like road-kill isn’t participating. That’s what Love is, the will to live - the most badass force in existence!”“I will not allow this condition to prevent me from being who I was meant to be. I’m going to allow this experience to bring out my highest consciousness.”
"What if every experience that shows up is an experience I wanted to experience and overcome just for the joy of who I would become as a result?"
During the call I could feel the energy in my body begin to shift...a wilting flower, finally receiving water, begins to straighten and blossom again. I didn’t want the call to end. I had experienced the first moments of peace in months and I was afraid to be without him. After we hung up I noticed that the nausea I had been experiencing 24/7 the last two weeks was gone, and ultimately, never came back. I realized, symbolically, the nausea represented my inability to swallow, my inability to stomach my circumstance. Matt helped me see differently, and I was finding my way to acceptance of my circumstance as it was. I had made the choice to live.