Cholestiatoma is a loving beast; as with other cancers, he comes like a string around the finger, a chain around the throat, to insure that we do not idly forget why we are here. Cholestiatoma (Chole when masculine, Choleste when feminine) lives in my skull between the meninges and the right orbit. He sleeps on my optic nerve, is not always gracious; by sleeping too much and over indulgence in the proliferation of his own being he causes eye strain. I want to close my eye and rest. I want him off! I cry intently. May this beast be gone. I pray softly. But Chole that gluttonous fellow, Choleste that lascivious creature is here for a reason: to guide me, to help me transcend the bodily throes, and learn: there is no sidestepping life. You either deal with your stuff now or you deal with it later. It’s hard. It hurts. But there is no getting around it. You might as well get on with it. I thank you two.
June 1976 I was baling hay. The International was moving down windrows smoothly, the John Deere 14-T baler was gyrating, picking up the mixture of grasses, augering easily, the pitman arm packing it in; the needles rise and the knotters tie clean, tight knots. Bales drop out continually. A joyful day in Oregon! One thing; in order to stay on the windrow, it was necessary to close my right eye. Just tired. Stress. No sleep. Holly (my wife) and I were at odds. Raising the boys; attempting to transform our citified educations; farming at the height of the season; I was thoroughly jealous, and as wrathful as ever in my life I had been. But what I expressed was little — tight-lipped frustration, small bursts of anger. Mostly it was all inside — internally fermenting like hay baled too green.
The eye pressure was disregarded, headaches began increasing. I would look for secluded nooks to crawl into. No way had been provided, and I couldn’t express these painful and tormenting feelings inside. Only the physical aspects. Whenever I attempted to get out some of the snarled emotions to others, they took Holly’s viewpoint (women are penduluming forth to rebalance the disharmony). And so I wept . . . and wept alone.
When I finally sauntered to an ophthalmologist in October 1976 the right globe was protruding 3 millimeters over the left eye. Chole and Choleste had been fattening themselves, had grown to the size of a tennis ball. The brain had been forced back and the globe forward. Cholestiatomas thrive on unresolved tensions. So slowly the scientific process, the recording of data, the proof of disease was begun: X-rays; bone erosion; the music was becoming more frightening. When I returned home from the radiology lab, the phone rang. My father, the Doctor. “You are scheduled for brain surgery next Wednesday. New York Hospital.” Choleste was distraught. Leaving my three sons, Holly Ann, and two women visitors, I flew East to the vortex of Western civilization — New York City.
If through free will you don’t deal with your life, higher forces will make decisions for you. Either you choose or you are chosen for. Evolution in human beings is a means of adapting the body and consciousness to environmental changes. Our minds would burst if we could not reconcile the internal combustion engine within ourselves: automobiles can propel themselves; 100-ton steel beasts can defy gravity. We must accept it as axiom, integrate the pace set by these machines, and somehow, the intensity of emotion. When an individual doesn’t choose to evolve, when he opts for lower mind states, to allow himself to be chosen for, cancer sets in. Cancer is not a disease; cancer is a life form; it is tomorrow’s evolution, today. Future historians will call the period from 1945-2000 the Age of Cancer. For it is in the historical era where the human body is undergoing the most radical transformation ever. The process is speeded up in identical proportion as horse and wagon is replaced by jet. When the mind is not able to deal with the change appropriately, and one indulges to extreme, be it food, drugs, sex, emotional intensity, the body is forced to compensate. The compensation within the body for “too much” is often called Cancer. The cigarette smoke mixed with chemicals enters the lungs. The lungs extend themselves to remove the toxins from the alveoli. Time and again the process occurs. Finally the lungs (the body) and mind are in such conflict, they give up, and wall it off. That part of the lung dies. Dies but is still in the body. And so as in every other part of nature, the degeneration process of one form of life is the generation for another. A new being starts living in the dead lung (moribund lung). This being called lung cancer (or bowel cancer, breast cancer, etc.) begins to grow. A baby. A new evolution. But this does not solve the problem which caused the individual to eat or to drink or to smoke or to worry to excess. This is the effect of that cause. Cancer is the effect of not dealing with your life — this body, mind, and soul, this incarnation! And the surgery which removes the cancer, that new being inside of you, does not solve the problem. Nothing solves the problem except awareness and acceptance.
All to do with the operation went smoothly. The unfolding of its meaning in my life became progressively clear: all the loose ends of the East Coast existence, primarily understanding my role in my generic family; the sinewy tangle of familial relationships — there was a great deal of work for me there. Literally everyone I ever knew and shared strong feelings with showed up. What if David dies? For me, a quick change of garments, from runner-away-from-responsibilities to deathbed guru. After the five-and-a-half-hour operation I lay there doped up, receiving people — some massaged my feet (wonderful!), some confessed their sins (also wonderful). Until knowledge of death comes to the fore, the clandestine work — known in detail to us alone — deftly eludes our grasp. (Those intuitive insights: revelations received on walks by the sea, shapes taken by shadows in moonlight, voices whispered in the ear before sleep, crazy woman ranting on the bus, the truths we feel, we deny. Rather we select a war across the earth to base reality on — sandstone!)
Why should I die? Am I really responsible for my self? Of course Death who picks his teeth with a scythe tip is only a clinging to life — this form. It is our complaint, “Why must it change?” And we know all of us that everything changes. Love life; love death; love yourself.
Reincarnation’s just a fact of death Better get on with your life. When your heart stops pumpin’ There’s one long, long breath, And you’re back again on thin ice. Every morn has a night And then another day; So every death has got a birth Every November has his May.
The better I got the more I thought about Holly. This was our first separation in six years. I desired to be with her, forget our historical muck, and begin anew. Lying alone at night in New York City, I longed to make love with her — long, very slow love; to become love with her in whatever form. Or did I?
Howie Dunbar — pure spirit — brain surgeon par excellence stood over me surprised to find a cholestiatoma. I watched him carefully, no longer in my body, cut through the bone, gracefully — an artist, a master — pin back the skin and so carefully suck the dehydrated cholesterol crystals from the sack. Beautiful! Adieu Chole! Bon Voyage, Choleste! But a bit lay on the optic nerve and so untouched by a surgical implement (like a seed awaiting an opening in the earth to germinate) it lay dormant — the physical, the scientific reason for the reoccurrence of the tumor.
In this type of operation, when the body is anaesthetized, the soul is released, as in sleep. The soul returns to the master soul for consultation. Can you continue to grow in this form? Is the body no longer an appropriate vehicle for your increased awareness? If the decision (and it is delicate) is no, the patient does not regain consciousness. The body is discarded and, obeying physical laws, begins decomposition. If affirmative, the soul returns into the body as the anaesthesia wears off. (Special note: historically it would have been necessary to die actually, and go through total disassociation with the old mind, the old body. But because of the total evolution of the earth, it is possible to have two incarnations in the same body through this incredible surgical magic. And among other things that is the wonder of modern science. I was reborn.)
And time, the nurse of illusion, passed. Well and joyful to return home — gallant warrior from the table. Holly and I reunited at San Francisco Airport as lovers still do. An historical moment for Chole and Choleste; for in the reunion — daily demarcated by regrowth of hair over the scar — they received sustenance. I started back towards Oregon, baggage in hand, tension in the left, frustration in the right.
One morning, March 1981, Holly said, “Your friends are back.” I felt along the right orbit; the globe was fitting a little snug, snugger than the left. That loving beast had come home . . . to the ophthalmologist . . . to the neuro-ophthalmologist . . . to the CAT-scan. Yup! “About the size of a walnut. We can monitor it and if it (Choleste) gets too big, we’ll remove it.” And May came. Another feeling of increased pressure like a wet sock on the inside of the eye. One night in June I was awakened by a loud red voice: You’re going to die if you don’t concentrate on your work. Right now! Do not think your wife, children, the community, the school are important! Forget them! Only your eye — only the cause of the tumor. Work on it! Can you live through another operation? Grace twice! You choose!
Right in our room, fight in my head. The voice of karma, the one you can never walk away from. The time had come — change. I knew somehow the healing had to come from within. If the eye causes me to sin, better pluck it out then enter Hell with both eyes.
The search is begun — three clear readings from different consultants. Leave, they said. Love yourself and you can love others. Of the possible points of departure, the Polarity Institute on Orcas Island in the San Juans was selected.
As I close my eyes and drift over the last decade, it is hard to fathom what all the drama was about. The pushing; the holding on; the drawn lines; the long trip overland to India; beautiful children; their crying; buying and selling; gasoline going incessantly into tanks. At Hearthwind, our farm community, there is a magnificent view of the Umpqua River winding languidly through the mountains; it is sunset and the goats and sheep are grazing and cudding. Blackberry cobbler with goat cream is being served in the kitchen (too slowly). Incredible beauty! The sun here, where I sit alone and write, drops quickly to the Pacific horizon. Tomorrow we’ll take the ferry to Orcas, I and Cholestiatoma.