December 26th, 2008: One of the unexpected features of feeling well—and I have been feeling very well all week—is that I don’t write in the blog as much. However, there are still many issues that are mixing and emerging through the progress of my illness. For one thing, the cancer itself is still definitely alive. It may have retracted dramatically, but it has not disappeared. Similarly, I have many thoughts and assumptions that I've lived with for many years, and they are undergoing as much change as the cancer. A couple of entries ago, I mentioned that it was a big shift for me to realize how much people loved me. The cancer has helped me understand that I've kept myself hidden inappropriately for much of my life because I didn’t think that it was safe to be loved. More of that as I go forward. In short, there is still a lot to discover and express through the forward course of my healing.
For tonight, I’d like to add a second reason for more life. The first reason was to have time for a deep romantic relationship with Lorenzo. The next reason is less huge, but has great meaning for me. Since the onset of my illness I have come to face the truth that I have a lifetime yearning to visit China. This goal is certainly easier in some ways than the risks and lessons of love. On the surface, it’s as simple as buying a plane ticket and booking a three to four week tour. But beneath the ease of travel, there’s a profound desire on my part to go back to China and look around as I ask myself, “What does it look like now?”
A couple of years ago, when I was doing past life regressions under the capable guidance of Marilyn Zschau, one hypnosis session uncovered my experiences during the Southern Song dynasty, around 1100 CE. To summarize that life: I was a bureaucrat with a beautiful home centered around a courtyard and garden. I was married with several children. A key member of our household was my boyfriend with whom I took most of my meals. We spent a great deal of time together enjoying our interests in aesthetics as well as having a deep erotic connection.
Then, in the big event of my life, a plague or viral epidemic started to sweep through the country, originating in the southwestern provinces and advancing into northeast territories. I was one of the couriers responsible for riding north to warn unsuspecting cities about this pestilence. I had official seals and documents that described the symptoms of the illness as well as recommendations for protection and public safety. I rode across a huge swath of terrain for over two years. During this time, my skill on horseback became so pronounced that in this life I am still able to ride with ease and enjoyment even though I’ve had little equestrian training. In this life, when I approach a horse, swing myself into the saddle and make my agreements with the horse about how we will ride well together, all of that ability is sourced from my Chinese lifetime. I rode and rode, visiting cities that we new or legendary to me. It was a time of great urgency and a pressing sense of failure. Although I told people about the plague, I could not prevent it from infecting and decimating many thousands of my beloved Chinese citizens. The worst experience of my own helplessness occurred when I returned home after my diplomatic work had ended, only to find that my cherished youngest daughter had died from the great disease while I was gone. My grief that I would not have the pleasure of watching her grow into adulthood was immense. This grief was followed by the dissolution of affection from my boyfriend who had become lonely and insecure during my long absence. Although he lived at a different social level than my family, he still had the ability to move, so he relocated many hundreds of miles away from our city. After the limelight of non-stop travel and the sustained fear of the plague, I aged dramatically when I came home to my reduced household. The unexpected surprise of my final years was that my wife, a woman who I neglected without remorse during my mid-life became a great comfort and focus of my later years. Much to my surprise, I came to love her and find her fascinating, virtuous, heroic and the real center of my home. She was the person who constellated our family.
At the center of all this travel and the dramatic relationships that surged and ebbed, the deepest experience from this hypnosis session was the honor I felt at being Chinese. Within that lifetime, it was a cosmic joy to be of the Han people. We were the most cultured, the most civilized, the most inventive, etc. people on the planet. And we knew it. Regardless of the varied social positions or life circumstances, to be Chinese was the greatest privilege. I felt that in my bones. In fact, I felt it so strongly, that now, in a very different culture and time, I can still feel the honor of being Chinese even though I no longer embody that culture. I want to go back and see what the current Chinese populace looks like and to experience their remarkable achievements of social and industrial growth. I want to see the new places—Shanghai and the other enormous cities—and the timeless places like the reflecting mountains and rice fields of Guilin.
Although this reason to live may not seem as huge as romantic love, it’s actually another facet of love. In my heart and soul, I have an affection for China that overrides that country’s politics or struggles to provide a safe life of its billion plus inhabitants. Now that it’s possible to visit there again, I yearn to go. Back in late October, when I was wrestling with how to organize treatments to stay alive, I realized that at least one trip to China was a deep wish I have for this life.