Today’s post is by Liz McCoy, a Lost Coin student in Salt Lake City.
There was a discussion in the Salt Lake City Lost Coin class recently about the Lost Coin Blog. What is a blog? Why have a blog? Should we all write for the blog?
The discussion left me thinking – 2009 is the year blogs transformed my life. And no, I am not a technology junkie; I am more or less a technophobe. For me the blog discussion and my experiences with blogs illustrate many of the lessons Doen teaches us.
Since August of 2009, I have learned about or been invited to join five blogs. Each blog describes someone’s battle with cancer or some other random and inexplicable phenomena that is trying to extinguish their lives.
Each person shares their story through their blog and although each blog is unique, many aspects are the same. Each blog demonstrates the power of community, of love, of effort. Each blog has made me laugh a big ol’ belly laugh and shed tears. Each offers mind blowing wisdom and beautiful memories. Every day I read at least one entry and am reminded to expect the unexpected. Today my cells give me life – tomorrow, my cells might take it away. Chemo, a poison, gives hope, gives life. “We are all travelers; we are all just passing through” as Doen often says.
The blog I am most familiar with, however, is my mother’s. My mother died on July 31, 2009. After spending 50 odd years befriending her Multiple Sclerosis, she chose not to fight stage IV colon cancer. As soon as we learned of the diagnosis we knew we needed to communicate, simultaneously, with many people around the world. With help from fellow Lost Coin student, Sterling, we set up a blog; a first for most of us.
By the time we started posting to the blog our journey with my mom’s death was fast tracked. We decided to post twice a day. I wrote some of the postings and organized the rest. The sprint became a marathon and the twice daily postings became stressful. The experience started to feel like a reality TV show. I wasn’t a professional blog poster or a writer. Was this offensive? Did people care? What else could we say? Hello crisis of confidence. Hello negative thoughts! Hello fear!
According to Sterling’s analytics and personal emails we knew many people were following the blog closely, relying on the blog to stay in touch with a person they loved. Daniel often talks about facing our fears and dropping our negative thoughts so I tried to do that.
By following Doen’s teachings and trying to drop my own negative thoughts, I found I had more space in my head to listen to what people said more intently, to read emails and guest book entries more carefully, to pay even closer attention to my mother’s breathing patterns, her pulse, her face, her smile. The stress was gone, the entries were right there, they were easy to compose. Some were funny, some sad, some witty, some wise, some were poems, some were prayers, some were hymns, and some were fanciful songs. But none of them would have existed if I had stayed in my head, with my own thoughts.
Every time someone asked “Are you sure you want to post that?” I would ask if they had another idea and when they did not, I would post the post in question. Later I would receive one, then two, sometimes three emails thanking me for the entry. The lesson – what touched one person, deeply, did not resonate with another. The variety of thought and voice created and strengthened my mother’s community.
Finally, my mom’s blog allowed many people to remember and celebrate her perfection. When someone reminded me of my mothers’ weaknesses, I was surprised to know, to feel, that it was these blemishes that made her, and me, and you, perfect. I did not have to talk about anything negative because I had come to fully accept my mother, who like all of us was perfect by virtue of her imperfection. I celebrated her completely with my whole heart. This is life. This is practice. This is perhaps what Daniel means by asking us to “just be nice”.
These experiences opened my mind and my heart to blogs, to modern Lost Coin non-monastic Zen practice. Yes, like it or not TODAY translates to technology, to life, to Lost Coin. By reading, writing for and organizing posts to a blog I practiced. I observed myself, my negative thoughts and my fears. I practiced being nice. I efforted and stretched my abilities. I never dreamed technology could touch me and so many others so deeply. Although the blog was about my mother, the posts were about all of us, about all our journeys through life “as we pass through”.
So how about it? Let’s put a similar effort into the Lost Coin blog. Let’s make it alive, let’s make it life. Let’s all participate and add our unique voices and touch someone. Let’s strengthen and widen our community. Let’s laugh, sing, and cry. Let’s share our wisdom, our jokes, our songs and our poetry. Let’s celebrate the beauty of perfection that is Lost Coin, that is a blog, that is Life.