I just finished watching a movie on the Sundance channel about the Origin of AIDS. It was so sad to see how personal importance can over ride compassion and the act of caring for others. It was so important to be a respected scientist and produce an oral vaccine for polio that people lost their focus on the bigger picture. Profit over people.

One of my first students was a man named Mark. This was in the eighties, at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, long before the cocktail or any real understanding about how the disease was transmitted.

Mark was a remarkable man. One day when we were talking I told him the moment he died he would be cured of AIDS and we both laughed. After we worked together for a period of time he stopped fighting the disease and focused on creating a wonderful life. He got a wonderful job, bought a condo and lived passionately for five years and then he died.

He learned to love and accept himself, he enjoyed himself and was a loving, kind man. One day I called him and he said, “Susan I am sick.” We talked for a long time and within a month he was dead. He spent five years living fully and a month dying. He died surrounded by friends.

I had other friends who spent years fighting the disease. Their whole lives focused on defeating AIDS. They stopped focusing on the joy of living and I watched them spend years wasting away and dying.

I truly believe life is an incredible gift. It is an opportunity to remember who and what we are, a spirit within a body and to enjoy life. In spite of the fact Mark had AIDS he allowed himself to enjoy life. No matter what is happening in our life or around us we always have the choice to embrace or judge the experience. That simple choice directs our experience of life.

With love and aloha,