An Open Letter from Babz Chula
One thing is for certain: There is great opportunity in this situation. For in the darkest depths somehow the human spirit emerges warrior-like and there is warmth, and humour, and curiosity. The fear retreats. This is how the warrior wins.
In this challenge lives a connection to people everywhere. A connection to their suffering. To the lonely senior citizen who has outlived a family. To the starving child on a dirt floor, and to the young man who squandered the life before him. To the broken hearted and the fearful. To the depressed and disillusioned.
We all deserve to survive. We all deserve to live. We all deserve tobe cradled in loving kindness. And there are no guarantees, no deals or negotiations that can be made. Not one of us has any more
knowledge of the “mystery”. We are all naked and alone.
I feel so lucky to know that. To really know that. There is huge relief in finally surrendering to something greater than myself. To know that I will breathe in and breathe out and breathe in and breathe out until the moment when I do not breathe in again. At that moment I will begin a new adventure.
And that is what this is all about for me. I feel not one bit of self pity. I feel lucky, indeed, up lifted by this opportunity. I get to contemplate my death! I get to meditate on the great mystery. On space and
emptiness. On Babz and No Babz.
The opportunity to contemplate my death has always been there. I was just never courageous enough to take it. Too busy. Too fearful. Too full of Babz. Now, I get to think about others. In fact, it is only when I am giving to others that I actually feel free of fear.
Thank you. I am astonished and humbled by your generosity. Please do not forget the other woman. The woman without support and friendship. The man who suffers from loneliness and fear. The people who live on the other side of an abundant life,
such as mine and yours. Please remember that they need our help, too.
If there is any curiosity about the alternative treatments that I am receiving, or the path of integrated healing, I urge you to get a message to me, and I will give you as much information as I can…or go to the websites and phone numbers of the practitioners on my treatment plan and they will fill you in. Take control of your healing. Ask questions of your practitioners. Demand information. There is power in knowledge.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Death. Not in a morbid way. It’s more like contemplation.
Three years ago my dear friend, and the father of my children, died in our arms. The arms of his family. It was an ordinary moment, wasn’t it? Isn’t death the most ordinary of events? Why, then, did it feel so extraordinary? Why, then, is the moment of Philip’s passing so embedded in my mind..my heart? Why was its effect transforming? To me. To our children.
Mystery. I think it is the mystery of Life and Death. And the way death informs life. Who we become when all is said and done. I guess I could just as easily say I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Life. But, it’s death that has my thoughts, somehow. I try not to be fearful. It could happen anytime. Cancer or not.
This life has been good to me. I know it’s abundance. I can hardly find a single complaint in my heart. My family. My friends. Even the challenges of life: the career struggles, the financial worries, the dashed hopes and disappointments, the broken hearts, the tears, the fears, seem to me to be opportunities for something…for growth? for wisdom? for understanding? I don’t know. For something. Something good.
Still, there is a troubling in all this abundance. I think it’s anattachment to this big fat gorgeous life. And how could we not be attached? How could anyone look upon a miraculous winter dawning without jaw dropping awe? Or the sound of rain on the roof and the bite of a damp Pacific Northwest morning without wonder at this miracle we are living?
I imagine myself at ninety sitting with my grandchildren and great grandchildren at my feet. We are telling stories. There is laughter. The image is so strong it is palpable. This is how we attach to life. We make up the future and wrestle with the past. And I am hooked in.
So, then, the issue becomes: How do I hold this life lightly in my hands? Gently. How do I prepare to let it go? Gracefully, and with dignity.
It occurred to me recently as I stood on our deck one windy afternoon, letting the cold wind pass over me, that this is Eternal. Eternity is a moment. The moment where one is entirely present. The moment where space becomes something tangible. Something to lean into. A force that holds one gently upright. Where the simple act of breathing in and breathing out occurs in a supremely unconscious moment of trust. A moment taken for granted, really. Of course, as soon as one begins to contemplate this miracle, the moment is lost. Say it ain’t so!
What makes me any more deserving of your support than, say, a dying child on a dirt floor in the Congo, or a freezing homeless man on Main and Hastings? Lots of people get cancer and struggle through it without support. Many people who are sick would like to have alternative treatments to recover from the toxic effects of chemo and go back to work some day. Just because I’m an actor and it may be difficult to find work as a bald, yellow puffy person, does that make me more deserving? Is it Karma? Luck? Do I
have a great work of art still in me? Is there something else I need to do in my life? And so, what?
I only know for myself that there is healing in giving to others. And this disease has given me the gift of
knowing that we are all one Being. Really.
Please remember that other woman, too. You see her
everywhere. The one on the other side of an abundant life… who suffers…and weeps and is frightened. Please do not forget that she needs your help as well.
I am astonished and humbled by your generosity. I have a million thoughts about why me? I read the comments you have made in regards to me and my work and I weep with gratitude for at your deference and respect. I think about how artists are devalued in our society, and I think back on the struggles of raising kids with no money, and, yeah, I guess I could complain, but all it makes me think about is how all the adversity in my life made me more creative. More resourceful. I became a more thoughtful person. I
listened more carefully to others. I found that there was joy in a gesture of generosity.
Not always. I was not always so careful. Cancer made me careful. Careful of others.
I am there for you. For every one of you. It has to be that way. This cannot be about me. It must be about all of us, about community, and World. Cancer is the opportunity we’ve been given to all be better at what we do. To be bigger of heart and greater of mind.
Bless you. God bless you all.
So beautifully said. I love you and miss you my Sweet Barbara Ellen…..