So I’m reading a book. Actually, since last writing about books here, I’ve gone through around twenty, but the book I’m reading now (in hardcover no less) seems fitting for this blog. Especially, it seems fitting because I’m not sure many people will hear about it for a while, and I think the concept is worth exploring.
I’d never heard of Sophie Sabbage before this year, nor her first book about coming to terms with a terminal cancer diagnoses. Not to be flippant but I have always thought, in the back of my mind, “I’ll seek out cancer comfort literature when and if I need to, thankyouverymuch.” Perhaps that has been a mistake. The descriptions of her diagnoses, and the treatments that come up occasionally in her second book, Lifeshocks, and how to love them (which isn’t focused on cancer specifically, but is sensitively informed by such), are some of the most fascinating to read. That she has the presence of mind to describe so specifically, what is happening to her, is weirdly empowering for someone like me, who finds it hard to stay looking into deep and heartbreaking problems that likely have no solutions. That’s precisely when I want to get busy with something else, move on to something I think I can affect! In taking you through though however, she gently shows you how to do it.
Cancer is just one of the topics she presents to ultimately point to the underlying topic of her life’s work, facilitating workshops and teaching the material of Dr. K. Bradford Brown, her mentor. Although he has passed away, she has tasked herself with introducing his tools and concepts to a wider audience, and I guess she is succeeding because here I am. I learned about this book from a friend who attended More to Life workshops twenty years ago and has continued to integrate the message since then.
About midway through, the word itself >> lifeshocks << is beginning to replace another word in my mind: awakening. Lifeshocks is a much better word to describe what I’ve been studying and comparing for soooo long now, once the case is made. Mind you, this isn’t Sophie Sabbage’s case but mine, as I am learning from her: Awakening describes something that seems ‘good’ or ‘better’ than what was. It implies in itself, a judgement about what one didn’t know before, or about others. It IS meaningful, and close to what is meant, so I’ve embraced it until now.
It isn’t that it is wrong to use the word awakening when relating the stories of masters like Ramana Maharshi or Eckhart Tolle, who were rendered ‘quite different’ upon enlightenment experiences, but lifeshocks describes what we all have to work with all the time, at varying degrees and scales, down to microseconds… each time an expectation is thwarted, positive, negative, or neither. In a sense, we are lifesthocks creatures, orienting and reorienting ourselves all the time, responding and redrawing our lives anew.
This is what exposing lifeshocks give us: the chance to be fully authentic, to find our true path in life and to accumulate an inner wealth that no amount of material wealth can match. Whoever we are and whatever we are up to, they will hammer on our pretences and call us back to love….
– Sophie Sabbage
Many of the tools she shares from the course fall in line well with similar inquiry techniques taught by the likes of Byron Katie, but so far I like the gentleness of her approach. It seeps in.
There are a few points in the book where I stopped relating to her very much, as the particular struggles of hiding her inherited privilege felt enviable rather than pitiable, but she was well aware of that when she chose to include those stories. In a way, they exactly illustrate the difference between what she is conveying and other like-messages, and form an intimate relationship with the reader.