What is the Yoy of Dying
Two and a half years ago, I started developing a show called “Me and Reality: Can This Relationship Be Saved?” I was pretty excited that the answer was going to be “Yes!” My historically bad relationship with Reality turned out to be based on a false premise; the “Reality” to which I’d been trying to relate wasn’t really Reality. It was Imposter Reality.
Following that revelation, I took a deep dive into quantum physics and chaos theory to see if I could find Actual Reality. Since I just – finally! – finished making a movie about that – “Emily @ the Edge of Chaos” – I won’t go into that journey here.
And anyway, it wasn’t until after we shot the movie, when I broke my leg in such a complicated way that I needed subsequent surgery and two years in a wheelchair to heal, that I came face to face with Actual Reality. Limits! I could no longer deny them or try to push past them the way I always had done. I had to acknowledge the reality of limits and use my imagination, creativity and native cheerfulness – my entire skill set -to negotiate with them. And guess what? I turned out to be great at Actual Reality!
All of the above is documented in a talk I gave at TED 2018 so I won’t go into that here either, except to say that my new, great relationship with Actual Reality was soon to be tested. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Was my relationship with Actual Reality real enough to withstand an encounter with the Ultimate Reality – Mortality? And yes! So far, I’ve been great with that reality as well.
Full disclosure: I’ve got several advantages here that may not be available to everyone. For one thing, I’m not afraid of death, I’m afraid of embarrassing myself. For most people, the two scariest words in the English language are “It’s cancer;” for me, they’re “Everybody sing.”
Plus, in no particular order, I’ve got no small children, little financial stress, an incredible support system of great doctors and nurses, a loving and entertaining network of family and friends, a daughter who’s not only loving and hugely entertaining but shares my attitude towards death and is willing to accompany me on my journey, a house that’s seemingly remote and yet one to which that same network of family and friends happily trek – but, wait, all this too is in the TED talk. So why am I writing this blog?
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