Cancer Chronicles, Part 22

I keep remembering the cantaloupe. At our last retreat, during an eating meditation, someone said, “I’ve eaten cantaloupe before but never like this…” It was as if she was first discovering that cantaloupe existed, its sweet enveloping taste, its smooth but full texture. The way it fills the mouth, exudes delight. Cantaloupe, cantaloupe. I have no idea what the first person who ever saw a flower felt or said, but it couldn’t have been very different from listening to the experience, the wonder of what it was like to actually take time with one bite of cantaloupe. In describing what it was like to slow down enough to actually taste what was in her mouth, there was ecstasy, sunsets, the sound of wind rustling poplar trees. Everything, everything was in one bite.

There is taking care of the body because it sounds like a good idea, sounds like self-care, sounds like everyone else is doing it so why not. And there is taking care of the body because suddenly you realize it’s a flower waiting to be noticed. It’s a cantaloupe waiting to be received. When my left breast was diagnosed with cancer, I thought I’d already been taking good care of my body: Eating non-inflammatory foods, listening to hunger and fullness signals, taking in the good, moving every day, turning digital devices off for at least an hour before bed. But in the months since the diagnosis, and in listening to stories like the cantaloupe story, I realize that much of the time, I do what I do so that I can get on to the next thing I am doing which really means that I don’t do anything because I am usually not there when I am doing it. And so, I’ve slowed down. What used to take me five minutes takes fifteen or twenty minutes. I walk slowly. I read slowly. I write slowly. I spend long periods of time doing nothing. Being still.

To read more in the Cancer Chronicles, click here.