Saturday, March 7, 2009

Let's not get small

This blog is aptly named, even if it only serves to remind me every once in a while, when I manage to forget, that the best response to virtually every situation is to expand, get bigger inside, even when the first knee-jerk is to contract. Just so with my sister's cancer diagnosis. Fear of suffering and death make us want to contract, but our challenge right now is to push past those bounds - and not get small.

What I think has been bothering me about this whole situation is my feeling that my sister is trapped inside a small life, having made herself tiny to fit inside it. I don't know this, it's just my feeling. And I feel bad writing this 'cause how fucked up is it to say anything negative at all about someone who's sick? But I'm trying to tell the truth this year, so I'm going out on a limb, even if it makes me sound like the asshole I probably really am. [an ever-expanding asshole, i guess, god that's gross :)]

I realized a few years ago that one of the reasons that my first emotional response to most situations is to get angry is a desire to get big, to use emotions to become gigantic -- which of course is ridiculous and pretty funny for someone who is under 5'1" tall. Of course, I now know better (most of the time) and realize that the only way to be big is to stay big on the inside, keep the heart open, be receptive, not let the emotional train get under me and take me on a wild ride. This is where the constant reminder of the yoga practice is really helpful.

Anyway, I felt yesterday like I couldn't have any real access to my sister even though I was sitting across the table from her, because her husband has become her guardian, filtering all communication in and out, answering questions posed to her, so vigilant about her health that he is practically her epidermis. I know he means well -- he really, really does -- and that everything he does he does out of love for my sister. But it also really worries me how narrowly her life is now outlined, how tiny the circle she gets to move around in. It is not for me to judge, it just scares me and makes me sad and I wish there were a way to help push the line out a bit, inject some breathing room, more room to stretch in.

I'm trying really hard not to get small in every possible way, including in my judgy monkey mind, and to stay positive about ways to help, ways to offer some possibility of expansion, a little more room, a few more resources. And I can only do that if I follow my own advice and remain a force expansive, remember that we're already big inside, we just need to stay that way.

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