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Blessed with a Brain Tumor
Part 2: Before Diagnosis
by Will Pye
Editor's Note from David Arenson: Will Pye was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011. 'Blessed with a Brain Tumor' is his story from the beginning (see Part 1 here). Despite its length, it is worth reading. A deeply personal, evocative and moving account of life and illness.
I won life’s lottery; I was born in England in 1979 to loving parents - enjoying a happy childhood and attending a great school. Early on I was an exceptional student, the top athlete in my year and generally excelled. My parent’s protracted and bitter divorce as I adjusted to becoming a teenager provided a point of departure.
Puberty and family break-up are a fairly heady mix and this brew was given an extra kick by what I experienced as a most primary betrayal; throughout the unravelling of my parent’s marriage I had been praying to God, as I conceived of It at the time, that my parent’s would not get divorced. I felt the outcome I sought was the best for all my family and the community at large and thus felt confident of success; when this did not occur my young mind came to its own conclusions about what God/reality was and how It felt about myself and indeed humanity in general.
I would hold a knife to my stomach as a means of escaping the pain I felt witnessing my mother suffer, feeling anger with my father and a hopelessness from being unable to shape events into a more beneficial direction for all. It was a storm which did not truly abate for many years. In addition to the dissolution of the illusion of my parent’s being perfect humans upon whom I could rely I began to encounter the reality of the world beyond the veneer generally presented by adults to children. I recall being perplexed that few others seemed interested; concern with the truth of things was apparently an eccentric indulgence.
I decided I would live fast and die young, probably early 20s. Sex, drugs and alcohol became esteemed pursuits. The profundity of the unconditional love of MDMA and the connection felt in the arms of a lover were the more wholesome aspects of an unrestrained indulgence whilst the pure anaesthetising affect of alcohol and pot were less so.â€¨ Rejecting all that I had accepted as true and important, I began creating my own understanding of the world. I undid much of my parent’s good work and yet interestingly, amidst all the resistance, the intense anger and sadness, there was a knowing that this provocation to interpret the world free of inherited views and values, was great gift.
I disdainfully rejected academia as mostly irrelevant to my interests and needs. Hubris and yet insightful. I have found little from ‘education’, beyond the basic maths and language, to be of value in life; my own enquiry and research of the last 10 years has left me marveling how profundity and depth has to be discovered for oneself. What would the world be if our schools, even just a few, taught, say, meditation, the nature of thought, how to access our innate wisdom and co-creative power?! Or even merely Science that is not 50 years out of date.â€¨
At the end of school life two events occurred that would inform the rest of my life, one subtle and one horribly unsubtle. Of the latter instance first. I met a woman of great depth and beauty. I fell in love. The effect was truly transformative; from insecurity and fear everything became alright. A world that could gift me such perfect beauty was surely not such a bad place. It was a beautiful yet brief few months; my wild emotions and consumption of alcohol and drugs did not allow for an intelligent response when from her confusion I experienced rejection and I betrayed her in the arms of another.
Graced with this precious, fragile beauty, whom I loved more than anything, through my own stupidity I failed in the most basic way to care for her and caused her immeasurable pain. I had thrown away a most precious gift.
Whereas before I was conflicted, now I was clear; I was worthless; completely without value. My self-hatred was total and I dedicated two years to the intake of drugs and alcohol. My intention to die young, by my own hand if necessary, became more pronounced.
The second, more subtle happening, was a curious event witnessed too by a friend. He experienced it as mere coincidence whereas for me it had deep significance, a profound meaning. I just had no idea what the meaning was. It was a crumb of meaning nonetheless. The details seem superfluous; suffice to say it was the first of many synchronicities that have since manifested regularly in my life, especially so in the months since diagnosis. It was the first faint glimmer of something immaterial (that I recognised as such ; mystical experience not being such a big deal in one’s childhood), unseen, a deeper reality I might yet know.
I experienced it as an invitation to look more deeply at the world. Perhaps life was not so empty and meaningless after all. Within the darkness and despair there was a flicker of light, faintly sensed, a dim gnosis, guiding me onwards.
After a year off following school I could find nothing better to do than go to university and I had many wonderful times at Bristol University. None of it involved studying; whilst I was happy to encounter challenge and relevancy in my Philosophy classes, the first time this had happened in my education, ultimately I saw no point in playing the uni game. Despite my tutor’s kindness I left after 3 years. I had not gone in order to get a degree and thus had no problem leaving without one. I have not once regretted leaving to travel the world with no plan other than to get somewhere other than where I was.
I experienced much worth at uni; genuine friendships, two beautiful relationships, experiences of profound oneness, telepathy, synaethesia, an out of body experience and the discovery that I had considerable talent for prompting people to give money to charity, the beginning of a career.
There was one key learning that came around this time; I realised that, contrary to the self-pitying cornerstones of my identity my entire life was one of stupendous good fortune. It took some while further to fully internalise and integrate - yet it was the beginning of creating a life to my liking - whereas prior I had unconsciously created a life of darkness in complete accord with my inner state and beliefs. The more lucky I think I am, the more it is so.
To note such clear correlation between my view of the world and the events and people that showed up was a deep lesson although it took many years to fully unwire the faulty operating system I had amateurishly installed and birth a new being, empowered and consciously co-creative. Fortunately the wisdom of my father that I had not managed to jettison, such as ‘I can do anything I set my mind to’ and ‘I am responsible for everything I experience’ plus the love of both my parents still informed my subconscious.
On a whim I went travelling in the hope that now finally I could escape the habitual pot smoking and periods of intense despair that so retarded my capacity to live fully. The smoking and despair came with me wherever I went. After a few wild months in SE Asia I arrived in Australia. Within 45 minutes of arriving in Perth I had scored some weed. Traveling to the other side of the world had not worked and thus I realised I needed to do something about what others would term an addiction.*
It took a while for this realisation to translate to action and a few months into my time in Australia I experienced prolonged despair. I had no friends and on the few occasions I would speak to my family there was insufficient connection to speak of anything important. I am so happy now to reflect on how we have healed these relationships.
I decided to kill myself. I would first take my credit card to its limit and write my family a note that allowed them to see it was not their fault and to avoid any pain. The credit card task was completed with no difficulty, however unsurprisingly I realised that I could not commit suicide without causing pain to my family. I shelved the idea. I prayed and prayed for someone to love me. And my prayers appeared answered when a beautiful woman taught me I was lovable. She made the remaining years in Australia bearable. ‘I can always kill myself’ remained the solution to stress or fear and, curiously, the image that came to accompany this thought was a gun held to my head; pointed to exactly where the tumour was diagnosed.
After a few years in Australia I was given the opportunity to live in New Zealand. I finally conquered my compulsive pot consumption and swiftly replacing it with compulsive gambling, realising there were root causes which required my attention. Deep despair and self-loathing limited my capacity to be and do as I wanted. I began to speak of and express the pain of my inner world that had so long been denied and anaesthetized. I was listened to and loved in a deeply healing relationship. With this love and a deepening awareness from meditation a fragmented and tormented self gradually returned to wholeness.
In spite of myself I was graced with success in my career and at 26 had responsibility for 15 fundraising offices across Australasia. Having gone as far as I could in another’s company, I set up my own 2 years ago and have enjoyed success whilst being free to pursue the research and practises which support my yearning for truth and its embodiment.
My search for knowledge and truth deepened with meditation. I began studying ancient and contemporary spiritual texts, philosophy, psychology and exploring the findings and implications of Quantum Mechanics, Epigenetics, Neuroscience and other frontier sciences. My reading crescendoed into a voracious habit and in a book store I am known to quickly lose sound judgment.
I have sought essence, that which was always and will always be true. My inner enquiry was first driven by a desire to suffer less. As I succeeded, a desire to understand the ‘how’ such that I could refine my own development and support others in theirs, took over. I have dived deeper into outer and inner exploration in the last 5 years, traveling far to attend academic conferences, healing workshops, personal development seminars, gatherings of wisdom holders from ancient cultures, visiting intentional communities, interviewing philosophers and visionaries and working with shamans, therapists and spiritual masters.
One particular master came into my life and within minutes of being in his presence I was transformed from egoic turmoil to residing as deep joyous awareness; on his retreat, I experienced an opening of my heart centre such that my chest physically ached for days. Over the years I have gradually deepened a meditative practise supported by regular Yoga and Qi Gong. I have experienced the illumination of seeing into realities where the personal self, the ‘I’ of this particular human drama does not exist. In this way I was as well prepared as one can be for a brain tumour diagnosis.
Ultimately this story is one of emerging wholeness and, whatever the events to come, one with a happy ending - for I have emerged from all the unskilful living detailed above - an ever-more joyous and useful being.
My desire to fully heal this body and live many more decades comes not from a fear of death, for in this there is only intrigue as to what form my return to the formless takes, rather I desire to live as I have just begun to truly do so, with authenticity and purpose. Today on the rare occasion that any despair or fear arise I embrace these ‘guides from beyond’ and choose to be loving this moment, surrendered, letting go, practising the inner alchemy that such pain invites. I am long free of the compulsive behaviours. I am deeply grateful for the wisdom these machinations of mind provided; all is gift, all is opportunity. I am humbled and deeply grateful for the guidance and love adorning the path. May healing, transformation and awakening continue.
‘Enjoy the ride.’ – Bill Hicks
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About the Author
Will Pye is a writer, speaker, healer, social entrepreneur and perpetual student of truth and transformation. In 2011 Will was diagnosed with a brain tumour which he experienced as an extraordinary opportunity to put into practice his studies. Remarkably the first months were free of any stress or suffering; rather the experience was one of joy, delight and fascination. Will is committed to completing his own healing, sharing the perspectives and practises that deepen our capacity to access joy whatever the circumstance and ultimately to inspire and facilitate other's healing, transformation and awakening.
Will's website, www.blessedwithabraintumor.com, is a resource for anyone who themselves or someone they know is going through a life-changing experience. It is a pointer to and report of the healing, transformation and awakening such experiences offer. It is an invitation to anyone to wake up; to live truly and joyfully; to recognize the perfection right now, as it is, whilst consciously creating ever greater expression; an invitation and how-to-guide to living your life, even the despair and darkness, as joyful celebration, dancing and stumbling from miracle to miracle in mostly awe-filled gratitude and bliss.
The book ‘Blessed With a Brain Tumor,’ to be released in mid 2012, will offer greater detail about Will's healing journey.
Visit his website: www.blessedwithabraintumor.com