On the anniversary of my burst aneurysm in October of 2004, many people have asked me what I've learned. I've written about this extensively in many of my earlier diaries, but I thought I'd sum it up here. You might even call this diary "What I Learned from the Sick Year" (to paraphrase of the diet book I am posting, one chapter at a time, every week on this website).
I guess the simplest way to put it is, you must live out of love. You must operate from a basic platform of loving other people. This must be your stance as you go through life.
This doesn't mean being naive or a sucker, although opportunistic people, who are always seeking for weaknesses in others that they can exploit, will take it that way, and you have to watch out for these folks. As Jesus (my favorite shaman) said, "Be as smart as snakes and innocent as doves" (Matthew 10 from The Unvarnished New Testament, trans. by Andy Gaus).
Like so many truisms, this can seem overly sentimental, but it's just plain truth, and if you remember it, you'll always be basically OK. You'll still make mistakes (sometimes the kind you can learn from, sometimes the kind you have to put behind you and walk away from) but you'll be able to navigate successfully through life and find meaning in every day.
I once met a woman who told me about her death experience. During it, she'd had the presence of mind to ask the being she was in contact with, "Please tell me the meaning of life."
He replied, "I will, but you won't remember it."
He was right, she didn't, but she DID remember the incredible feeling of joy, the amazing "of course!" reaction, she had to his message.
I think he gave her the love message, the same one I'm giving you. It's so simple and obvious that we tend to overlook it.
But there's one thing that experience has taught me: ALL real solutions seem simple and obvious, it's the complex ones you have to watch out for. When you come to a solution for a book you're writing, a project you're doing or for a way to live your life, one way to test it is to ask yourself if it seems so obvious, you can't understand why you didn't think of it before, since it was staring you in the face all the time.
If it passes that test, then it's real and you should go ahead and implement it.
NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.