A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was just on the other side of a bone marrow transplant and a one-month stay in the intensive care unit on one of those ventilators we hear so much about every day. For 23 days, a ventilator pushed air into my damaged lungs.
Just yesterday, I heard Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN talking about “acute respiratory distress syndrome” (ARDS), the hardening of the lungs, and how the longer you are on a ventilator, the harder it becomes and less likely it is that you will come off.
I know my 23 days on a ventilator and ARDS diagnosis are two layers of the mad miracle surrounding my ICU stay and subsequent recovery.
Recovery for me was physical, emotional, and spiritual. For the first time, I felt my fear take over. It was present prior, but overridden by my confidence that I would “beat cancer.” After ICU, my fear was in control. Consciously facing my fear helped me get a handle on that. The spiritual phase has been much longer — over 21 years and counting. I don’t expect — or want — it to stop.
My mom gave me Gary Zukav’s Seat Of The Soul. I read it in the year after my first transplant on April 13, 1999. It was intensive and a slow go for me. In 2000, Soul Stories was published. Short power-packed stories from Gary illustrating the lessons from Seat Of The Soul. Pretty sure he wrote it just for me.
Love and fear — everything stems from one of those two roots. This resonated with me in a way no message had before, ever. Not “clean up your room,” “do you need that beer,” or “slow down.” Nothing dug into my new bone marrow like Gary’s words. It was a perspective that felt so right in a way few things ever had before.
I committed to moving forward with all the awareness I could bring to act from love, be open to love, and to learn through love.
Sounds a bit corny, and for a 24-year-old guy, it definitely created some space between me and my former life, even with those wanting to come into my new life with me. But I didn’t care. I knew it was the right path for me. I choose love, and in this mad COVID-19 world, I highly recommend it.
Live life. Love life.