So, I watched this video as I had my morning coffee:
I admit I’m kind of a sucker, but I’ve rarely been moved so deeply by the courage that these two people showed in trying to become themselves. Just trying to be who they really knew they were.
I cried like a baby, like a sad little baby. I am so proud of them, and so proud of all of you who face incredible odds and fight the world just so you can be who you are.
You go, girl. Boy. Girl-boy. Whatever.
Then there was this guy. Hard bark on him. He and his buddy were manning a forward observation post, just the two of them, when a German raiding party of twelve soldiers overran their position in the middle of the night. They were both shot and blown up by hand grenades, but Private Johnson jumped up and killed two of the Germans and fought off the others in hand to hand combat despite being wounded 21 times. When reinforcements arrived all Henry said was “take care of my buddy, he’s hurt bad.”
Different kind of heroism, the kind I’m more used to getting worked up about.
He was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French but the Americans didn’t think that it was cool for the brothers to get recognition. When he agitated for a pension for his war wounds, the army drummed him out.
President Obama (I can’t help it, I love writing that) awarded him the Medal of Honor today.
Last night I watched Frontline, a special with Dr. Atul Gawande on dying, on how dying is something that our system is really dreadful at working with. I got to watch the stories of these beautiful people, scared and facing the end, and then dying, and how hard it was to navigate the whole thing. It was stunning to watch. Holy and terrible.
I told Yolie how on my run at lunch yesterday I was struck by being out there on the trails and I said to myself, “I really want to die outside. That’s what I want.”
I hope I can manage that. Not that I’m in any hurry. Just, you know, I wanna be outside.
Dr. Gawande shared the story of his own father’s death from cancer, too, and how hard they all worked to make sure that his dad had things the way he wanted during his last months. After he died, Dr. Gawande honored his father’s last wishes by taking him to Varanasi to be cremated and spread his ashes in the river Ganges.
Just seeing that place again, even on TV, made my whole body light up with the memory of my time there. By far the holiest place I’ve been on this earth- every cell in your body responds to it- even the birds and the fish seem affected by it.
I would love to be burned and thrown into the river there, but it’s not really my culture so I won’t, but it sure seems better than Forest Lawn or sitting on a fireplace mantel somewhere.
Just take me outside where it’s wild and leave me go. Light me on fire, chop me up and feed me to the buzzards, wrap me in a sheet and bury me under a tree, toss me overboard, give me a Viking funeral, whatever. Pour me a drink and have one or two for yourselves, say some prayers, cry a little bit, laugh, say something nice, call it a day.
Look for signs in the sky.
I’ve never felt so buzzed in my life. The intoxication of impending freedom is overwhelming my predisposition for nervous anxiety and funk. I watch these stories of people dying, having gender reassignment surgery, fighting off the huns, and I know that I am all of them, have always been. It’s just an illusion that I’m this separate thing, this old man who thinks he’s a cop on the verge of retirement. I’m everyone who has ever lived or ever will live, and I am the son or daughter of everyone who has ever lived or ever will live. I am all creatures, great and small. I am that I am. I am pure Buddha nature and I am my obscurations and I live in a universe that is made by love and compassion and wisdom and awareness and in it I am an engine of universal love and compassion and I am having a hell of a good time at it and there is nothing that is not sacred nor can there be.
Namaste, you Princes of Maine, you Kings of New England!