sage Steven Kalas: Death isn’t extraordinary. And therefore my own personal death can’t be extraordinary. My death is not even one of the more important parts of me. Only authenticity can make you wealthy in spirit, and this richness includes suffering. Live your life with clarity, commitment, and conviction. Now.

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+being+real&qpvt=images+being+real&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=876E4CEC76E5632BC1DAC0956605DF3395939758&selectedIndex=0

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http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+being+real&qpvt=images+being+real&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=8258191B886AD71BD4B6E323CA7E89638AAA9965&selectedIndex=82

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/randy-pausch-steven-kalas-living-meaningfully/

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Stevens_Final_Lecture.html

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See, I’m confident that, if today I receive the news that I have a terminal illness, my reaction will be powerful and dramatic. I’ll be sore afraid. I’ll weep. Maybe even panic a bit. I think I will, at least for a time, and perhaps a long time, think, feel and behave as if something extraordinary has happened to me. As if my life was extraordinary.

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But I’ll be wrong. Because death isn’t extraordinary. And therefore my own personal death can’t be extraordinary. My death is not even one of the more important parts of me.

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But unless I was similarly “called,” I don’t think I’d want to die so publicly. Death is personal and intimate. Not sure yet who I’ll want to invite to my death (assuming I’m afforded the opportunity to die a conscious death), but I’m thinking the list will be small. About the same size as the list of people I’d invite to watch me floss.

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And if I wasn’t “called” (as I think Randy was), then what on Earth would be my motive for wanting to haul my ordinary self and my ordinary death and my ordinary cancer on to the set of “Oprah Winfrey”? My legacy, you say? Hmm . . . where would I have gotten the idea that I’m in charge of my legacy? Or, frankly, that I require a legacy at all to say that I have lived well. Lived meaningfully.

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If I die a conscious death, I can imagine scribbling a few letters, calling some folks to my bedside and giving away a few trinkets and mementos, but constructing a legacy? I’m going to trust my children and my friends to construct my legacy. They are free, then, to cherish the parts deserving to be cherished, and to roll their eyes and forgive — or not forgive — the parts that are derelict.

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I’ll be dead.

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Before_choosing_your_path_you_must_find_the_real_you.html

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So who are you? What do you value? What matters to you the most? Not just right now, but, say, when you’re lying in hospice many years from now?

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Which of the many sufferings before you has the most integrity for you? The most meaning?

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And, before you act definitively on ANY of these sufferings, there might be one other path of which you’re yet unaware. Look over to your right. The trailhead is obscured by overgrowth and mottled sunlight. It’s not on any map. And it’s unlikely that you’ve ever had any “fantasies” about walking it. It’s an often rocky, dark, uncomfortable path.

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It’s the path at the end of which you might find yourself. The Real You. And the answer to the question “What’s really going on with me right now?”

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If I had a word of caution for you,  it’s that sometimes human beings create jumbled, agonizing dilemmas of multiple suffering paths just to keep their attention off that other path.

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So be careful and don’t fool yourself.

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/We_are_a_people_surprised_and_offended_by_suffering.html

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An ironic consequence results for a people who do not know how to suffer, for people who insist there are alternatives to suffering, for people who are insulted in principle when beset by suffering. The consequence? We suffer!

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Write this down:  Most of what we call ‘suffering’ comes into our lives as a consequence of our refusal to suffer.

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We suffer estrangement and isolation, a trail of fragmented relationships because we refuse to suffer the joy, the struggles, and the occasional terror of great intimacy. We suffer chemical addiction to avoid suffering some pain or emptiness in our soul. We suffer depression because we cannot suffer our anger or grief. Our children suffer from monstrous brattiness when we refuse to suffer their unhappiness at the hands of consistent structure, discipline, and high expectations. We suffer guilt because we will not suffer the humility of asking for and accepting forgiveness.

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This list could go on and on. We suffer because we refuse to suffer. We don’t know how. We don’t understand why we should have to.

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I think about this often, especially in my work. “Oh, what a nice job you have,” people tell me. “You help people feel better.” And, inside, I always think, “Uh, no.” Actually, much of the time, I help people feel terrible. That is, I help them tell themselves the truth about their suffering. Their anger. Hurt. Grief. Guilt. Shame. Illness. Injustice. Emptiness. Meaninglessness.

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Only then can people feel better. Only after they face themselves as they are. Face life as life is. And life contains suffering. The backdrop of every authentic and worthwhile joy.

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No one is more miserable than he who does not yet know he is miserable.

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http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/kalas/Before_you_can_love_others_you_must_love_yourself.html

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A paradox is like a hammock: The only way to rest comfortably is to hang each end of the hammock on irreconcilable opposites (see note). And the difference between a contradiction and a paradox is that with a paradox, the irreconcilable opposites are always true.

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I’m saying the answer to your question is “yes.” Your primary concern should be with human beings. But, equally certain is that you are one of those human beings.

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Biologically, homo sapiens are and always have been animals built for and thriving in troops. More politely, community! No life form is more vulnerable than a human being alone — environmentally, psychologically, spiritually. Yes, I’m aware that some individuals spend much of their adult lives in radical seclusion. But I have yet to meet the individual living thusly who freely chooses this life from a place of thriving mental health.

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Now a theological observation: Every significant world religion has in common the foundational worldview that we are created for relationship, and from this worldview their driving ethos: Learn to love! Learn to be faithful and constant in relationship! For such is the measure of any significant spiritual path. “It is not good for the Man to be alone.” (Judaism) “Where two or more would gather in My name, there I will be in your midst.” (Christianity) The Hindus, the Buddhists, the Muslims, the premodern animists — all of these ways of life come down to the discipline of bridling the human ego in service to love and faithfulness in relationship.

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But, as I’ve said, and as your own question concludes, you are one of the folks with whom you are obliged in relationship. The Golden Rule — “Love your neighbor as yourself” — presupposes this. In fact, The Golden Rule makes a huge presumptive leap that you do have a relationship of regard with self. Have you ever been “loved” by someone who despises him/herself? You won’t like it in the long run.

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It has been said that our lives are wasted until we can love something or someone more than ourselves. I completely agree. My insistence remains, however, that selfless love finds its nexus, paradoxically, in regard for self! Self-respect. Self-love. People without regard for self can love, yes, but there is always a thread of brokenness in that love. Or, as my friend says, when co-dependents are about to die, someone else’s life flashes before their eyes!

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So, taken as an existential inquiry, I think your question becomes a dog chasing its tail. Taken sentimentally, we become ruled by sentiment. But, taken objectively, as “personal economy,” if you will, I think your question lies at the very heart of learning anything about love and relationship at all! Because love — “primary concern,” as you say — is not a feeling. Love is an act. It is possible to exercise a “primary concern” for someone about whom you harbor hateful feelings. Some folks would say this is the very zenith of human love.

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Objectively, your question pushes us toward the necessity of two psychological maturities: discernment (the ability to understand what’s going on) and stewardship (the ability to weigh and measure what you have and don’t have to give, and, if you do have it, whether you should). These two things lie at the heart of all ethical deliberation and, in any given moment, shape the answer to your question regarding where your primary concern should be.

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Here’s a banal illustration: I’m on an airplane as I type this. Before takeoff, the attendant gave us the safety lecture. She said that, while they never anticipate a sudden loss of cabin pressure, should it occur, oxygen masks would drop down from overhead. She said that, if I was traveling with a small child who needed assistance with the mask, that I should put mine on first.

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In short, as a function of discernment and stewardship of my “concern economy,” I should in this case make myself my primary concern. I assume because, were I to lose consciousness, my primary concern for my child would immediately become a moot point.

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No primary concern for self matters unless it obliges us in relationship with others. No primary concern for others is completely healthy unless it reflects a healthy regard for self.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/jesus-death-becomes-even-more-powerful-when-this-particular-messiah-also-carries-your-personal-projections-that-is-the-celebritys-life-mirrors-important-pieces-of-your-own-psychic-journey-your/

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-d-cohen/dont-believe-everything-y_2_b_2411183.html

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Don’t Believe Everything You Think

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I saw a bumper sticker that admonished “Don’t Believe Everything You Think.” I had

been trying to put this notion into words myself for a while when I discovered this pithy advice on the back of the car ahead of me. I find it hard to put into practice. We generally take what’s in our heads as true.

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If you don’t question yourself you’ll have what the world rightly considers disorganized, magical, or delusional thinking, or not really thinking at all. Thinking is like believing, but sieved through observation, trial, questioning, and doubt.

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Artists, open to intuition, to imaginative reaching and risk-taking, are especially susceptible to self-delusion and denial. Dreams aren’t really open to correction.

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But I believe that powerful and enduring art results from the interchange of conviction and doubt, a process of urging something into existence and then questioning its validity. Doubt and uncertainty, with accompanying self-questioning, discomfort, and setbacks, feel unproductive, yet only by passing through this state will anything ultimately worthwhile emerge. Doubt on its own doesn’t get you anywhere. Conviction, the belief in what you do, gives art its authenticity and motive power; doubt, its durability and integrity.

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/does-your-life-have-purpose/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/writing-and-eventually-dying-a-good-death-expressing-sharing-love-to-the-end/

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https://curtisnarimatsu.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/harriet-beecher-stowes-prophetic-engine-sage-joan-d-hedrick/

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying

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Top five regrets of the dying

A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?

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Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

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Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

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Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

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1.   I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

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2.   I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

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3.   I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

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4.   I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

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5.   I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

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What’s your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?

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