Getting & Having

“Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.”
― Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) English poet, sage writer and cultural critic


A friend recently posted this on Facebook: Life is the waiting room for death. Sounds morbid, I know, but it did get me thinking. How has my life unfolded as I move closer to my own inevitable passing? I said to my Facebook friend, “Seems like I spent the first half of my life in fear of getting something, and now the second half of my life in fear of having something.” We both laughed, and then drifted into a sobering silence.


From childhood through my 20s, fear came in the form of “getting” something. I was afraid of getting polio or TB. From early church teachings, I was afraid of getting leprosy, or, as a virgin, getting pregnant out of wedlock. Who would believe me? My sister and I couldn’t go barefoot until after our dance recital in early June. This was because we were afraid of our precious feet getting hurt. At least that’s what our ballet teacher said. When I started my moon time, I was afraid of getting blood on something. I wore a girdle because I was afraid of getting too much attention for my feminine curves. In high school I worried about getting a date for an important dance. The idea of getting a prominent zit for the dance was appalling. In college I was again afraid of getting pregnant, but now for good reason. In my late twenties I was afraid of getting left behind by the married and/or mommy club. Once entering my 30s, in a job with a promising future, I was afraid of getting laid off. In my 40s, I was afraid of getting diseases I heard about on TV. In my 50’s the getting was about making myself get up and go.


Two summers ago, at the ripe age of 64, I started receiving daily mail with ads about having aches, pains, ailments and diseases. Some ads were for having pre-paid burial plots or cremation. I recall saying aloud to my husband, “Oh, I get it. Age 65 is when you get ready to die.” Recently I started having fear around a lower back ache and leg pain. Maybe I was having discomfort because of osteoporosis or osteoarthritis. Or, like friends having hip replacement surgery, maybe my sore left hip was slowly disintegrating. Then I read an article about Olivia Newton-John who is having treatment for cancer, from which she was seeking relief for lower back and leg pain. OMG, I thought, am I having what she’s having?

From somewhere I just heard, “Step away from your thoughts, Kathleen, step away. In this dimension, you get what it is you have and you have what it is you get. It is your Being that transcends this dimension so that you might enter the Temple of Becoming. It is your birthright and your eternal home. Now, and forever more.”

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