I was talking with a gentleman recently whose wife had just passed. We marveled at the evidence that people move out of this world in a way that is similar to the way they lived in it. In other words, our personality affects our dying process. No big surprise, except that I’d never really thought about that. 

It’s also true that our personality affects the way we age.I have often wondered what kind of nursing home patient I will be. The ditzy, confused bird who is sweet and loving? The the crotchety old crank who hates every thing and every body? Do we get to choose? I think we can. Maybe not in the moment, but in the way we live our lives up until then. I can choose daily practices, a lifestyle, that helps me avoid getting bogged down in the distractions that my ego creates.  

Whether I will even be a nursing home patient or not depends on how long I can keep cancer at bay. (“Do not complain about growing old. It is a privilege denied to many” -Mark Twain). After talking with other cancer patients and survivors, it is clear that we also deal with illness and healing according to our personalties. I’ve experienced a significant amount of physical and emotional trauma this year. Every one of those events gave me the opportunity to face my issues—shame, bitterness, abandonment, etc—-and come out understanding my life in context. 

I went into cancer believing that I am the journey of a spirit walking in human form. After everything else was torn away (job, career, income, body image, health), I am buoyed by what I see as the only thing left—my spiritual life in motion.