So I’m reading a book. Actually, since last writing about books here I’ve gone through around twenty, but this one seems fitting for the blog.
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 “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. 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 have no solutions. That’s precisely when I want to get busy with something else, move on to something I think I can affect.
Cancer is just one of the topics she presents to open in to the underlying topic of her life’s work, teaching the material of her menor, Dr. K. Bradford Brown. A friend who attended More to Life workshops twenty years ago has continued to integrate the message since then, which suggests something worth exploring.
About midway through, the title word itself >> lifeshocks << is beginning to replace another word in my mind: >> awakening <<. Lifeshocks may be a better word to describe what I’ve been personally studying for so long now, once the case is made. 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 Eckart Tolle, who were rendered ‘quite different’ upon enlightenment experiences, but lifeshocks describes what we all work with all the time, at varying degrees and scales, down to microseconds… each time an expectation is thwarted. In a sense, we are lifesthocks creatures, orienting and reorienting ourselves all the time, responding and redrawing 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 more. 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.