September 11, 2007

A Question for You on 9-11

It's that day again...a day that has become a "holiday" of sorts. Yet we would never send anyone a greeting card that says, "Happy 9-11" any more than we would send one that says "Happy Cancer," "Happy Divorce," or "Happy Child's Suicide."

Why not? If, as I keep saying, reality is kind, why wouldn't I just celebrate? Because to say, as Byron Katie does, that the worst that could happen is the best that could happen, is not my 24/7 experience. I still have to question what I believe.

When I do that, I can see that nothing that I have experienced has been entirely terrible. Others recount similar experiences; they're not all "Workies" either. They're living their lives, and reporting what's true for them.

My friend Kathy tells me that, when recently asked what she'd been up to lately, she answered, "I had breast cancer; it was great!" Probably shocked the unsuspecting questioner to the moon and back. Who wants cancer? Maybe someone whose perfect path to enlightenment means double mastectomy, and the way it moved her to re-examine a life's worth of resentments. Cancer got her out of hell, gave her back a beautiful life.

I experience—in ways I cannot convey without sounding like a spiritual space-case—that my father's death from cancer could have been as good a thing for him, for me, for my mother, and for the planet, as it was a bad thing. That could sound very cold, uncaring, and selfish to someone who has never gotten this radical with the workings of hte mind.

What I can tell you is that this kind of thing is my personal work, that it has been healthy and healing for me, and it makes me a lot more pleasant to be around than when I believed I was especially unlucky, unloved, and damned to hell. If you get to a point where you can't deal with the mental pain anymore, I invite you to your personal work over your losses, traumas, and tragedies, if it serves.

Many of you have survived, and thrived, after a child's death, or the loss of home and livelihood, or incest, rape, torture, ritual abuse, war, devastating diagnoses, disfiguring and painful accidents. People go on to create amazing good in the world after such things; Anne Frank comes to mind, Nelson Mandela, Christopher Reeve, those women who forgive, visit, and befriend their children's murderers in prison, so many others. How can they do this when some of us can't get out of bed when the computer crashes or the marriage ends?

I have a friend in his 40s who can rarely get out of bed because of an increasingly painful, crippling physical disorder that may soon kill him. He has also, over the course of 20 years, lost his family, his income, the love of his life, nearly everything. He has dreams, happy ones, not nightmares. He remains creative, and as active as he can be when not hooked up to machines. He falls in love. He can always make me laugh. The guy doesn't even need inquiry, he just gets it in a way that I don't yet.

So I ask you, Soul Surgery readers—and in doing so, I do not mean to diminish, in any way, any suffering experienced by anyone, including myself, directly or not, due to the events of this day six years ago—if the universe is friendly, how could such a thing happen?

Can you find three genuine ways that this event—or insert your own worst nightmare here—has been for your highest good?

It's just a question. What are you afraid of losing, or not receiving, if you answer it honestly? (An honest answer could also be, "I can't find a single way that this has been for my highest good, or anyone's.")

P.S. Yes, I'm doing this along with you. Re-connecting with the kindness of reality is the only way for me to stay in the peace movement that has been vital to my existence these past six-and-a-half years...and to understand that unless I say otherwise, no one has died in vain.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.


Jon Willis said...

OK Carol I'm in - 9/11 was "for me" in these ways:

1. It helped me to see the predujices that I held / hold against 'Americans' (or rather the 'American' in me :-) )

2. It led me to a greater awareness of the wider world and the Middle East.

3. It transformed my appreciation of the emergency services and airport security - I now feel much more aware and appreciative of the jobs that they do and the service that they provide.

Just for you, a bonus answer :-)

4. With hindsight, I can now see how for 2 days, on the island of Crete, I lived without the story of 9/11, despite seeing it on Greek TV in a grocery store (I didn't understand the language so I thought it was a 'minor' building collapse somewhere in Greece). On 9/13 I returned to the holiday apartments and then got hooked into the story of what had happened - and my own drama, story and suffering about what had happened.

Also, for people that have not seen it, there's an excellent dialog between Byron Katie and a lady called Deborah in the days after the events of 9/11:

Marianne said...

Hi Carol,

At the risk of sounding like a coo-coo and a bad mother....

How has it been for my highest good that Alexander, my first son, died at birth?

1. His death was a catalyst for me to grow up, understand myself and the understand the kindness of others.

2. His death helped me to know that no one dies. And that is not just woo woo talk.

3. He helps me understand death as part of reality too...death as a friend. While everyone else cries at funerals, I feel excited for the one who has passed away.

4. His death made me a seeker....His death opened doors for me to worlds I wouldn't have wanted to open without those feelings of betrayal, hate and grief living in my heart. He guided me to The Work.

Tim said...

Thanks Carol. Without wishing to sound mawkish - I'm tearing up here (as you say in the US).

Re: 9/11 (Remember, I'm a Brit who was in London at the time.)

1) Made me respect my wife's deep connection to All That Is as she phoned me on the way back from picking up one of our kids from school and declared "Tim, I've just had this feeling that something has gone horribly 'wrong'". I switched on the TV and the news started coming through from The States regarding 9/11.

2) The humanity, connectedness and sheer human courage of those involved in the rescue services, "victims" and bystanders brought me to tears.

3) Gratitude that my wife's cousin, who was at a work placement in one of the towers at the time, escaped unscathed (physically).

Carol L. Skolnick said...

Jon, Marianne, Tim, thank you for sharing your beautiful lives with us.

I purposely have not posted my three examples because of their irrelevance to anyone else, not wishing, as the author of this blog, to influence anyone else's inner work. I may share mine later.

It's an amazing thing to discover "the silver lining." It turns out that the Pollyannas we dismiss could be right, according to us, but we never know it until we question the mind and allow it to open. We start to see that our perpetrators never existed, that we have been perpetrators also (and also not).

Imagine if we all (especially crabby me!) did a little inquiry before acting on our hurt feelings. Not only might we not commit acts - from unkind words to flying planes into buildings - for purposes ranging from revenge to being heard, but we might not need to memorialize, worship, and fetishize our own losses and slights either. When I do this, I notice it only serves to prolong the pain.