Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal.

Rushing home between things this afternoon, I sat down at my kitchen table to knock out 20 minutes' of work before heading out the door again.  Minutes later, distracted by the news that renowned Iyengar yoga teacher Mary Dunn has recently succumbed to cancer, I've found myself swimming in my own tears as I walk alongside her in her battle.

If you've ever lost anyone you've loved to cancer, or even if you haven't, please sit down with her musings for a few minutes.  Dunn began blogging a little over a year ago when she was first diagnosed with peritoneal cancer, and her unassuming, gracious spirit spills out of her quick updates.  You can walk the walk with her, as she muses on losing her hair, the worms in Central Park, and the changing seasons outside her window.  Her entries are full of hope and peace, a remarkably quiet acceptance, a letting-go and a resignation, a fearless recognition of the impermanence of life and the inevitability of death, in spite of all attempts at optimism.  The seasons loom large in her writing, a reassurance, somehow, that at the end of it all, the little things fall away and what's left to us is nature, and cycles, and change.

I sit here gutted, still, trying to wipe my eyes so that I can head out in a few minutes and meet the world again, but I am lost in thoughts of seasons and cycles and nature and death and life, and movement, perpetual movement, time and change and spirit and rolling, rolling wind, and I am grateful for Dunn's simple reflections, her quiet observations, her ability to employ all that is best about yogic philosophy and Buddhist meditation and mindfulness practice in the midst of what had to've been great tumult, the just being and having and knowing and seeing and listening that is so often shoved to the periphery of our lives when we're preoccupied with meetings and commutes and dinners and deadlines.

In one of her early entries, weak from treatment, Dunn writes:
One of the interesting things is how time changes when it is not filled to the brim. The silence is impressive. And the spread of time from moment to moment.
How sad, and strange, that we so often are only able to note this when faced with the nearness of death, with the inevitability of being still, with the inability to be bustling and active and running and moving and coming and going all over the place.  I need so desperately to be active, it's a constant reminder to slow down, stand still, wait in the moment, watch the light change, just be right here, and let that be enough.  That we might be able to take that kind of wisdom from a veteran teacher and yogi who was responsible for spreading so much wisdom and light in her too-short time in her human body.


And now, I'm late, and puffy-eyed, and breathless, and unexpectedly grounded, on this cool foggy Tuesday afternoon in September, when I am alive, and the air is chilly, and the earth breathes.  And it's enough.


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