Today my high school chum and longtime friend, Kathy, undergoes yet another surgery to stop the cancer raging in her body. I talked to her yesterday, Mother’s Day, to…oh, I don’t know…commiserate; wish her well; cry. She only found out that I was ill, too, last Friday. With all she had going on, I sure hadn’t wanted to add to Kathy’s worries, but that was before I’d felt the healing power of love from all my well-wishers, a love I hope Kathy knows is there for her, too. I’m glad Deb told her about my situation. I know it’s a cliché, but love really does increase when it’s shared. It’s the most powerful energy we humans can experience, in my opinion.
As we talked, I think we both became suddenly aware of our precarious positions; the denial game only works if everyone plays, and we’re both past that. Our conversation just kind of dwindled. Then Kathy spoke her catchphrase, the one that got us through all sorts of difficulties (whether it was how we were going to hide our wine-making equipment, get through labor, or deal with the death of a parent): “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Amen, Kathy. Never has this phrase meant as much to me as it does now. For will, as in the “will to live,” is born of love, is it not? Often the word has a harsh connotation, but that’s if there’s an adjective in front of it: “strong,” or “iron,” or some other unbending substance. Will can also be fluid, resilient yet flexible — indeed, resilient because it is flexible. Even an understanding that a Supreme Will determines the moment of death does not preclude the owner of that life from having a will to live. Will is used in English grammar for the future tense; it is a word that carries a high degree of probability, but allows for the possibility of change, too. Our will operates independently of others’ (we can only have our own will), yet its results are completely dependent on those around us. You’ve heard the saying, “With the best will in the world, [a] cannot be done, because [b] won’t let it happen. I, for example, would love to have world peace, but there are too many people who don’t, so it ain’t happenin’.
What good is having a will, then, if it depends on others for its fruition? Why bother? I think the answer might lie in the aspect of will that admits of possibility. If we pool our common wills, uncommon things can happen — like healing, for instance. By sheer force of will, miracles can happen. (Miracles, I believe, are simply desired results occurring without our having a clue as to how they happened. You don’t have to believe in God to have a miracle; in fact, it may be more powerful if you don’t. People who believe in a god rather expect he/she/it to produce miracles on a regular basis. )
I thought a lot about Kathy’s adage yesterday; I was amazed that I’d forgotten it, at such an important time in my life, and yet thankful to hear it from Kathy’s lips when I did. Its full import hit me yesterday afternoon.
Lise had brought me into Chicago again, originally to visit the Art Institute. Again, a single will was not in operation here; coincidence met coincidence, and we ended up at the Celtic Festival in downtown Chicago. The driving rhythm of the bodhrán and foot percussion, the lightning speed of the fiddle, the haunting tin whistle, the plaintive accordion: as I listened, I was transported. I was beyond pain, beyond time. It was like a distillation of my son’s music and of my Irish experiences, and I wept. I wept for gratitude that I was there, listening to this band; and I wept that I may never have the experience again. “How I love this life!” I thought. “I don’t want to leave it!”
Suddenly, I realized that what I was experiencing so deeply was the will to live. Then, another profound realization struck me. I didn’t have to depend on just my will: there were hundreds of other wills — like yours, for instance — that wanted me around, too.
And where there are that many wills, there must be a way. Bless you, Kathy.
(Hear the music that prompted the Change of Will at http://www.vishten.net/)