This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. – Rumi
In the poem, The Guest House, Rumi uses the metaphor of a house guest to create an image that each day we have the opportunity to welcome something new into our lives, even if it is unexpected. And just like the house guests who can cause us to feel uncomfortable with their visit, unwelcome feelings that stop by our house, our life, can be just as exasperating.
We wait impatiently for these house guests to leave so we can put our house back just like it was before they arrived. However, underneath the irritation can live incredible value when we take the time to receive these guests with humility and courage. This is how I feel about my situation…I know this is part of a larger plan and that what I and hopefully others can learn from this experience will make the future more exciting and rich if we take the time to embrace it and welcome the insights into our lives.
Rumi’s poem is a good reminder to embrace change, face our fears and use our bodies as a guest house to welcome whatever, and whoever, drops-in on us from time-to-time:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
– Jelaluddin Rumi
Fear keeps us trapped. We shut doors and windows and refuse to let anything, or anyone, new inside. We hide in the familiar. We keep growth and personal change outside because our fear tells us that opening the door and inviting a new guest into our home is just too dangerous.
I had a very interesting conversation with my friend Jeff Clark two Monday’s ago in Half Moon Bay. Jeff is the first guy to surf Mavericks and is a legend in terms of big wave surfing. The waves were pumping, so on my way home from UCSF I stopped and watched the 40-50 foot face waves and the surfers riding those giants. He wanted me to go out in his boat to watch, but I am not supposed to go in the ocean yet. The odds of getting really wet and potentially in a bad situation were not worth the risk.
We met up a couple hours later and had a great discussion about fear and moving from the known to the unknown. He said that for him he thrives at the moment he moves from what he knows he can do to the moment when he is uncertain about his ability. “If at that moment you revert to fear you will most likely not be successful, but if you go forward with faith using the skills you have…you can enter into a new zone of growth and skill, and then the unknown becomes known and you have reached a new level.” This process of growth creates confidence and makes the next situation in your life that much easier as you go from uncertainty to certainty…until you try and give it 100% you will never know what is possible.
The extraordinary effort is where our lives can explode, if we are open and grateful to whatever is standing in the doorstep and waiting to receive the invitation to come inside.
Sometimes what we fear most is not that our lives will turn out poorly, but we will actually find peace and happiness. So, we do nothing. We don’t allow happiness to walk inside because what would we have to complain about next? Somewhere behind our walls we have learned there is a false comfort with the predictable.
Look for the strength in your house and the weaknesses too. Take the chance to answer the doorbell and allow every experience inside. Treat each experience humbly.
Wait on your guest, serve your guest and don’t rush your guest to leave. When the visit is over you may find your house is in better shape than it was before your guest came to visit.
After all, Life, our guest, won’t be staying long.
Lots of things to give updates on today after my visit with the doctor:
This last week since my infusion, I have at times been nauseated and a little bit dizzy and have experienced a little bit of chemo mouth (everything taste like metal) as well as being tired. My immune system is low and I will try and get thru this next week without picking up any illnesses.
It is interesting how each week there has been a different reaction and symptoms. Once again the lesson of expectations and surprises continues to teach me that we must be open to whatever appears at our door and to expect the best and be prepared to welcome whatever arrives with a smile and conviction to appreciate the journey whatever it may be.
My next chemotherapy will be January 4, 2016.
I failed to mention that yesterday when Emmett took me to UCSF he passed out while I was giving blood. The poor guy was just watching the nurse poke me and pull out 7 vials of blood and low and behold we turn around and just saw him fall like a tree to the tile floor. His head hit the floor with such a beautiful thud and he was as white as a ghost. The nurses left me and immediately focused on Emmett for the next 5-10 minutes. He was out for a few minutes and can’t remember much of the situation. One of the nurses was hysterical and it actually was funny watching them try and bring Emmett back to reality. We immediately went and ate breakfast and Emmett started to come back to his normal self. It was nice to be a caretaker for a few moments!
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season with family and friends!
I love all y’all!
Kathleen Redd Hendrickson
12/22/2015 10:15:12 pm
12/23/2015 05:18:45 am
The picture of Emmett sitting on the floor is cracking Andrea and me up. Sorry Emmett. We are awful, awful people. But thanks for taking the picture, Greg.
12/23/2015 05:41:03 am
Thank you Greg.
12/23/2015 01:36:40 pm
Beautiful post Greg! I treasure your words.
12/30/2015 08:59:13 am
12/30/2015 05:46:19 pm
Hi Greg-So glad to see your post. Poor Emmett. It's not easy to watch a lot of medical procedures. He is a wonderful guy to want to support you! Wishing you and all your family the very best that the new year can offer.
12/31/2015 06:23:39 pm
1/1/2016 11:15:09 pm
Great post, Greg. It's an honor to be a guest in your house! So glad to be back in touch with you last month, and looking forward to reconnecting in the new year. Wishing you and your's all the best in 2016!! Much love brother, Dave Campbell
1/3/2016 12:57:44 pm
Greg, it was so good to see you today! I asked Jan a few weeks ago (maybe a month ago) if you had any metal taste yet, guess it finally came. You are such an inspiration of a positive mental attitude. We love you so much. Not a day goes by where we don't pray for you - our whole family. This is such a crazy road to be on, I know I have never experienced it myself, but living with and taking care of my mom while she went through it gave me a small taste of what you might be going through. I hope you guys had a beautiful Christmas.
Pam and Stewart Greeninger
1/4/2016 04:06:46 pm
Thinking of you today, January 4, when you were to have your next chemotherapy. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Greg! May 2016 be a year of continued healing for you. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family.
1/21/2016 10:05:29 pm
That Rumi poem is in one of Coldplay's songs on their new album! Love ya Maddog!
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