I would like to commend Larry Dossey [“The Reach of the Mind,” December 1994] for addressing the idea of “new-age guilt.” If, as new-age thinking suggests, we are in complete control and everything is a matter of making the right choice, then we are also absolutely to blame. While I am a strong believer in the connection between mind and body, as well as in the power of prayer as Dossey describes it, it is difficult for me to see failure in the lives of friends who recently died of cancer.
There is much that can be controlled by human thought and action, but the entire universe doesn’t depend on our abilities. We can’t take it for granted that what we wish for is always the best. Often I suspect that we simply wish for whatever would make us feel good.
Dossey says, “We ought to stop saying that the effects should always be positive.” Rather than viewing things as positive or negative, I would suggest we see them as simply being easier or harder to accept and learn from.
Larry Dossey’s a lovely guy: honest, strong, smart, loving, tender, truthful, and unafraid. It was marvelous to find from your interview that he’s mapping territory I’ve been thrashing around in, blindfolded and hungry, for a year or so. Today I went to the bookstore and ordered his Recovering the Soul. When the paperback of Healing Words comes out in a couple of months, I’ll order that, too. Dossey has a lot in common with Brother David Steindl-Rast, the author of Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer. Each is beholden in some manner to a dogma, but neither is dismayed by the interplay of light and darkness.
Sy Safransky’s “Table Manners” [December 1994] gave me a hard thonk right between my eyes. I learned when I was nine or ten that I could never be who my mother thought I was (or ought to be), so I just shut the door between us. I also didn’t become a lawyer like my dad and his father before him. But I still went fishing and drank beer down by the river with him and his cronies. And I went off to war as a volunteer and didn’t fold under fire. That got me some points. That was way back when I was trying on an earlier me, one who now hangs limp in the back of my closet. Every once in a while I take a peek to see if he’s still there. Sure enough.
Frank Ostaseski’s story about the Zen Hospice project [“Stories of Lives Lived and Now Ending,” December 1994] was one of the best I’ve found in The Sun. I cried just reading about the love and generosity the volunteers provided through the simple act of listening.
In response to Jim Ralston’s portrayal of Mexico City [“Leaving Walden Pond,” October 1994], I’m a little tired of hearing about birds dropping dead out of the sky here; I haven’t seen a single one in five years. There are hummingbirds and mourning doves on our street. Are these just hardy species? The mountains frequently are hidden from sight, but I see them just as often.
Yes, I live in Mexico City. I’ll get out if I can, but not without my life-mate and my child. I don’t know if that will ever happen.
I used to be frantic about getting out. I felt trapped in a huge metropolitan prison. But living for the day I got out was too hard on my body and mind. Still, my soul wants more green and less concrete. The pollution, when it is bad, is truly bad. I’m afraid about our health in the long run, especially our daughter’s.
I’ve learned to take it one day at a time and the burden has lifted, though at night I have dreams about riding a bicycle through hills, of living in Alaska.
There are many things I like here in the city. Thanks to the sex-segregated subway cars, no one gropes me on the Metro, no matter how densely packed we are. I have my friends. There are great art exhibits, and the local English-language radio station carries National Public Radio. There’s always some work for a native English speaker. The food is tasty, even if a lot of it is greasy.
I admit it’s best to have money if you live in a city like this one; the more the better. Every day it seems that people have less. The street corners are getting more populated with children cleaning windshields in hopes of getting change, women selling Chiclets on the median strips while their babies breathe in exhaust. I try not to imagine where they sleep at night. I may never get out of here, but at least I have a home to go to.
Sy Safransky’s “I Read the News Today” [October 1994] captured the mental struggle in which I am always engaged: wavering between an urge to save the world and a desire to make myself whole and be a loving presence for my wife and children, while both urges are assaulted daily by the demands of work and the stack of unpaid bills.