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Oysters Unite!

Oysters Unite!

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Published by Jack Schimmelman
Thanking God for chronic illness. Life is a Master Teacher.
Thanking God for chronic illness. Life is a Master Teacher.

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Published by: Jack Schimmelman on May 21, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Oysters Unite!©by Jack Schimmelman
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.Used by permission
Peck, peck, peck! Says the Woodpecker. Peck, peck, peck! I will peckyour head until you let the light in. And so it goes.I thank God for this woodpecker who has been furiously pecking at myhead, especially these last five years. When I first became chronicallyill more than 5 years ago, I cursed the doctor who had caused myillness. I cursed everyone. What I did not do is understand the toxicchoices I had made throughout my life that helped put me in such avulnerable position. I did not acknowledge the role my anger had inmy apparent demise; anger at a past I could not change.I was scared. Told by doctors that I was going to die in a short amountof time did not ease my angst. I was annoyed with my partner forbeing so worried and protective. I did not want to be a sick person,incapacitated. I had been healthy my entire life with a strong body. Icould do anything, even as I was mired in middle age. But thatwoodpecker flew onto my beak and told me otherwise. At first, Iswatted. Go away! Let me be in peace! I was anything but peaceful.Peck, peck, peck! Let the light in. It was constant. I almost died twiceduring these past three years. My partner panicked and gave up onme. I terrified her with my denial. Our relationship ended suddenlyand painfully. Stripped of everything, including my dignity, in constantpain, I scrambled to my former home, Martha’s Vineyard, whosebeauty I hoped would heal me. Unexpectedly, friends far and nearhelped with this transition. Without them, I might have died. My lifebegan to reveal its light.And now, that woodpecker’s work is almost complete. Today, I thank
God for allowing me to be so ill. For it is my illness that has taught melife’s most valued lessons. Being incapacitated has forced me toplumb the depths and heights of my humanity. And dive I did. I don’tknow if I hit bottom, but three years ago when I was in the ICU knowingthat I was dying and starting to leave my body, I decided in that instantthat I still had more life to experience. Why? Because I am a slowlearner and life is a master teacher. I touch my soul today andcompose a smile. I walk on this earth happy. Sometimes I even tuneto the brilliant music that is this exquisite island. More and more I amhappy. And that is the key to recovery. But it is not something youcan will into your life. There is no technique that can make you happy.No mantra. No shortcut. You work on it in mysterious ways. You laborin a painful vineyard never knowing if your ground will producesweetness. Why does one endure? For me, it isn’t a choice. Duringthese days of tremor, I compare myself to a wounded dog. When I seedogs seriously injured, I marvel at how they continue to live; how theywalk, breathe and play. They are my inspiration. I sit with nature andknow that I, too, can regenerate my cells. When every doctor is tellingyou that regeneration is impossible, it is not easy to keep one’s faith.I have learned to love. I have earned an advance degree in lovingmyself unconditionally. This allows me to love others in the same way.Once on a sunny day, when she was 7 years old, my daughter and Iwere walking together in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, when she turned tome and said, “My heart is very big.” When I asked why is that, she toldme, “Because I love so many people. I love you, mommy, my friends,my teachers . . . .” Her list grew. It took a while. To this day in her20
year and a cancer survivor, she still says the same thing in manydifferent ways. She is my inspiration. It isn’t her prodigiousaccomplishments at such a young age that make me proud. It is herheart. She is grand. Her soul emits a golden light to which everyonewho meets her is drawn.Life has been good to me. My painful illness has granted me momentsof grace. I am eternally grateful. I seem to be recovering. I amdefinitely healing. I make healthy choices.Baba Ram Dassonce saidthat there is a difference between healing and recovering. You canheal yourself, but not always recover from physical ailments. What Iam learning is that healing is enough. Recovery is nice, but notabsolutely necessary.I am learning to live with my childhood trauma. The little boy who livesinside me is beginning to inhale light. The woodpecker has done agood job. I suspect he will stick around a while and my head will behurting for the foreseeable future.2

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