Go download Eve Ensler’s new book, In the Body of the World: A Memoir. Like right now.
Profound. I recommend this work of art to anyone who cares about or is involved in suffering, the human race, or understanding what life really means. Eve recounts her story of having to stop her life-changing outreach work to deal with cancer, and she beautifully tells of what she learned in the process. This book is about the big picture, and how we and all of our sufferings are all interwoven. I read it in three days – could not put it down. Savor these words from her book:
Having cancer was the moment when I went as far as I could go without being gone, and it was there, dangling on that edge, that I was forced to let go of everything that didn’t matter, to release the past and be burned down to essential matter.
It was there I found my second wind. The second wind arrives when we think we are finished, when we can’t take another step, breathe another breath. And then we do.
…Sometimes late in the day… a wind comes, a delicious, clean wind. I believe in wind. It pollinates and moves things around. It can cool us off. It can make electricity. It can scatter seeds. It can become a hurricane or a tornado or typhoon. It can rustle the leaves. It rises up and it can help us rise up too.
What does it mean to have a second wind, a second life? It means screaming fire when there is a fire. It means touching the darkness and entering it and tasting death in the earthquake scar down the center of my torso, in the first scan that announces the chances are good it’s in my liver. I am burning because the second wind is also a fire that will burn through our fear. We cannot be afraid of anything, not of anything. There is no one coming but us.
The second wind is not about having or getting or buying or acquisition. It is about giving everything up, giving more than you thought you owned, giving double what you are taking.
What is coming is not like anything we have ever known before. Your dying, my dying is necessary and irrelevant and inevitable. Do not be afraid, no, death will not be our end. Indifference will be, disassociation will be, collateral damage, polar caps melting, endless hunger, mass rapes, grotesque wealth.
The change will come from those who know they do not exist separately but as part of the river. If you want to overcome your sickness, reach out to someone who is sick. If you want to forget your hunger, feed your friend. You worry about germs and stockpile your herbs, but they will not save you, nor will your fancy house or gated villages. The only salvation is kindness. The only way out is care.
The second wind will come from the ground, the Earth. It will rise like a dust storm. It will suddenly appear from the corners and the barrios, the favelas and the invisible places where most of the world lives. Because the streets are alive… this wind will take everything away.
And those of you who can live without will survive. Those of you who can be naked, without a bank account, a known future, or even a place to call home. Those of you who can live without and find your meaning here, wherever here is. Knowing the only destination is change. The only port is where we are going.
The second wind may take what you think you need or want the most, and what you lost and how you lost it will determine if you survive.
I have lost my organs and at times my mind. I know it is a race now between the people who are helping themselves to the Earth, to the loot, and the rest of us. I despise charity. It gives curbs to a few and silences the others. Either we go all the way now or there is no more way. Who will step off the wheel? […] The world burns in my veins, just like chemo did only a few months ago. I dare you to stop counting and start acting. To stop pleasing and start defying. I dare you to trust what you know. The second wind is beyond data. It is past pain. It is found in the bloodstream and cells of the women and men who purged the poison of their perpetrators, who walked through the cancer, the nightmares. The second wind is coming from your body, it’s in your mouth, it’s in the way you move your hips.
Every vision is necessary now. Ever instinct must be awakened. The wind does not turn away. It blows through everything. Do not be afraid. There is no more winning and losing. We have already lost. Even the so-called winners feel that way. That is why they can’t stop self-destructing. Step off the wheel of winning and losing. Of course there is risk. Of course it is dangerous. I wish I could make this easy for you. I wish I could tell you there is nothing to lose. Lose everything. That is where it begins. Each one of you will know in what direction you need to move and who to take with you. You will recognize the others when you arrive. Build the circles. Listen to the voice inside. And… stay tight in your circle. Dance in the circles. Sing in the circles. Join arms in the circles. Surrender your comfort. We must be willing to go the distance. We must be willing to leave the kingdom and surrender the treasures.
We are the people of the second wind. We, who have been undermined, reduced, and minimized, we know who we are. Let us be taken. Let us turn our pain to power, our victimhood to fire, our self-hatred to action, our self-obsession to service, to fire, to wind. Wind. Wind. Be transparent as wind, be as possible and relentless and dangerous, be what moves things forward without needing to leave a mark, be part of this collection of molecules that begins somewhere unknown and can’t help but keep rising. Rising. Rising. Rising.