Cancer Chronicles, Part 25

I often am up in the middle of the night these days, and last night, as I walked outside under the blanket of stars, I was remembering what it was like to “just have cancer.” The days—they were just here, weren’t they—of attending to what, who, where, when of the tumors. I was remembering that because this time is so, as my friend calls it, “multi-factorial.” So many different challenges. We in Northern California still have our bags packed for evacuation just in case. We are having a string of very hot days, and with the lack of humidity and the drought, any ember could set a fire. When I go to sleep every night, I know there is a chance a siren might wake me up and a voice on a loudspeaker might tell me to evacuate. There is also: the pandemic, the ingrained racism, the election, the polarization of views. (A few of my close friends read their versions of news, listen to their podcasts, and come to conclusions based on what they read and listen to. Very different than where I find myself). And I’ve been watching a beautiful David Attenborough documentary—“A Life on Our Planet”—about the earth and the possibility that we are facing a fourth extinction. Just having cancer was simpler than post-cancer treatment, the pandemic, the fires, the birds dying, the racism, the polarization of views, the possibility of violence during and after this upcoming election.

Last night, as my mind was traveling into outer space with questions like: are we going to have a civil war? Are we as a species going to survive ourselves? Is that pain in my breast more cancer?, I remembered that no matter what, the work is still the same. Whether I have cancer or not. The practice is still what it always was: to come back to my body. To feel my feet on the floor, the sensations in my legs, arms, chest. To breathe. To not what’s here now because my mind is wildly speculating about what might be there then.

That’s the thing: to come back, and back and back. Because we have no idea what is going to happen next week or next month or after the election but we do now what is happening now. Breath. Feet on floor. Walls. Stars. Wagging tail of dog. Safety here, now. And I don’t want to miss one second of it.

To read more in the Cancer Chronicles, click here.

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