I sat bedside watching my dying friend’s consciousness pass back and forth across the veil of existence.
On one side of the veil was his entire human journey. On the other side, he existed as a consciousness beyond the human journey.
Each time he crossed the veil and came back into his physical body, he returned with less and less awareness of who I was.
I had known Len only for a few years, but we had a deep appreciation for one another’s human journeys. Despite him being more than twice my age, we understood that the pain of human emotions – if not acknowledged and adequately healed – collects over time, weighing on the heart and mind, and often debilitating the physical body.
We understood these truths of the human journey not because we read them in some book somewhere, but because we had experienced them for ourselves. We had immersed ourselves in these often agonizing truths, patiently and consciously, until the agony subsided and we began to experience life in ways that we had never imagined possible.
Len had done the impossible many times throughout his human journey. He was diagnosed with cancer about eight years ago. The doctors said he maybe had three years to live.
In an effort to defy the odds, Len began the process of body-centered psychotherapy with our mutual mentor, Tom.
Tom helped Len experience the link between the psyche and the physical body, and how this link affects one’s overall health.
Len was a highly intelligent, loquacious, rough-around-the-edges kind of fella who was a strong skeptic of just about everything – especially of persons in positions of authority, power, or leadership. As he used to put it, “My b.s. detector is always on.”
He was always trying to poke holes in ideas and theories, a survival mechanism that had helped him discern whom to trust and whom to shun throughout his life. Even with all that poking, and the “always-on b.s. detector,” Len built a strong rapport with Tom.
This rapport allowed Len to feel safe enough to get vulnerable and fully feel his physical sensations and emotions – rather than avoiding them. This is something that men (especially men his age) say they have a lot of trouble doing because emotions have traditionally been regarded as weakness and regarded as a “feminine” quality.
Truth is that the human journey is characterized by human emotion – whether we bottle it all up inside or let it flow.
As Len let himself express things that had been bottled up for decades, he opened himself up to a world of feeling and experience that he never knew was available to him as a man.
He allowed himself to be in a close friendship, he offered support to anyone who needed it, and he became a deeply empathetic being.
Len outlived his initial prognosis by five years. He saw an alternative medicine doctor outside the United States, kept an herbal medicine regimen, and continued to dissolve his psychological stress to further balance his internal systems.
When COVID-19 first hit the scene, it was a challenge for most everyone to stay calm and collected. Len was no exception to this. He eventually suffered a series of strokes which led to the end of his life.
I will never forget the first time I saw Len cry. We were at an emotional healing retreat. I had shared openly about some of the abuse I had endured throughout my life, particularly by men.
Len hugged me and wept for me. Then, with a smile and twinkle in his eye, he told me what a tremendous job I was doing by staying committed to healing, despite how uncomfortable it is to face one’s own darkness and pain.
All of the inner work he had been doing empowered him to be transparent, vulnerable, and intimately connected with others because he had finally learned how to be transparent, vulnerable, and intimately connected with himself.
While he is no longer roaming the earth with us, his human journey was full because he learned to allow all of himself to be acknowledged and accepted.
He learned to bring love to the parts of himself that he had judged and hidden for a lifetime. This enabled him to love others more authentically than he had ever imagined. And while this only happened in his final days, it did happen: a human journey was experienced – completely.