I know I quoted from a Buddhist essay yesterday, but I’ve got to do it again. I swear, the Buddhist press is printing some of the best writing out there. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Darlene Cohen called “The Scenery of Cancer,” from this month’s Shambhala Sun (a publication I can’t recommend highly enough). Her point is that sometimes life offers you an illness or experience you didn’t want to encounter. But then you often rise up from it a stronger person, a better person, deeper, fuller. You can be sick as a dog, but also, at the same time, observing the seasons–and all of existence–with a new intensity, etc. You can taste a new flavor.
Cohen writes of how–since she’s had cancer–she practices experiencing other things she didn’t choose, or want, to happen:
“…I have been consciously practicing not always choosing what I prefer. The first time I ever did this, I was in an ice cream parlor. I was surveying the flavors, trying to determine which would be the most intense chocolate experience. Suddenly it occurred to me to just step away, close my eyes, and pick a flavor. I did so and, much to my horror, I picked orange sherbet. I thought, should I go through with this? Yes, I decided. And you know what? Orange sherbet is great! Sherbet melts faster on the tongue than ice cream, and though I’m not a fruit-flavor fan, the taste of intense citrus was delicious–unexpectedly delightful and refreshing. And to think, if it weren’t for that little experiment, I would have gone to my grave without ever having tasted orange sherbet.
“Most of our preferences don’t make much difference, like whether to choose chocolate or orange, but if you always go with your preference in every matter, than it’s harder when it does matter–like preferring health to cancer. The statistical weight of your always choosing what you prefer becomes enormous, and your flexibility sags under it.”
Do you manage to walk into unexpected realms like this? Can you relate to what she’s saying?