My Suffering Friends and Space Travel

by bryan maynard

In the past week, I’ve received news regarding two friends that made my heart sink. One is entering his final days with cancer and the other is valiantly searching and doing all he can to face mental illness. Both are good men and the light within them is the light that shines into my own heart.

My thoughts as I watch them live and breathe their way through these painful realities flow along these lines:

  1. I no longer see suffering, whether cancer or mental illness or childhood abuse or whatever, as something ‘out there’ or as something ‘happening to that person.’ For me, awareness has lifted my sense of being alive to the level of absolute solidarity with all beings, at all levels of existence. My body is mostly space that does not end or begin with what my mind knows as the boundaries of ‘me,’ or ‘self.’ There is no “I” any longer. “We” have cancer. “We” have mental illness.
  2. This quote was shared by my friend who is battling cancer. It is from one of his quarterly newsletter pieces. He really believes the stuff he writes and so do I. He writes the following,

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement . . . get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted.  Everything is phenomenal . . . .  To be spiritual is to be amazed.”  from Abraham Heschel.

All of reality is connected. When one has cancer, all have cancer. Life includes every part of human and extra-human substance and experience and not one inch of it is separate from all the rest.

I am grateful for my friends and for the truth that not even death can separate any part of what is from any part of what is.