I have quite a few travel plans. San Juan Island the week before last, Victoria BC this past week, Oregon Coast this week, Peoria IL next week, and the day I return from Peoria, a cousin visits…all before and because of March 30th. Although Saturday mornings are usually a sacred time for me, I drove into Seattle early, two Saturdays ago, to walk/run a 5k...because of March 30th. The Pac 12 Women’s basketball tournament was held in Seattle this past weekend. I thought I might go to the championship game Sunday night because Stanford was playing, but instead, I spent the evening with my friend, Leanne for the same reason...March 30th.
What is the big deal with March 30th? March 30th is the day I am scheduled to start phase 3 of my protocol with Dr. Chue, which means another round of chemotherapy. It isn’t anything new or because of anything bad happening, in fact, he’s pleased with the results so far. It's just the next thing on the schedule. Twelve weeks on phase 2; time to move on to phase 3. When I met with him last week to discuss this, he confirmed the schedule, and I found myself fighting the tears. Although I knew it was coming, it didn’t mean I liked it. I told him how well I had been feeling, the best I have in years, and it was hard to imagine going back to feeling the way chemo makes me feel. “You’ve got to think long term.” he warmly said. “I know,” I responded, reluctantly, as I reached up to run my hand over the soft pelt of my newly grown-in hair.
Jail. I knew a man who was going to go to jail for a couple months, but was given some time beforehand to get his affairs in order. Did he look at the calendar every evening and say, “Well, there is one more day of freedom gone.” My orientation has been like that. What do I want to do before I have to go to jail on March 30th? I decided I was going to do everything I wanted, thus, all the travel plans. As I write this my office is a mess. I was going to clean it today; I wanted to clean it today, but then this came up, and I wanted to write more. So, here I write, surrounded by piles on the desk and floor.
This past Saturday morning (my sacred time) I chose to re-listen to a podcast by David Manning. David works with energy, and his podcast, “Cancer: a Mystical Initiation,” tells the story of his journey with cancer. Of the many valuable teachings I took away from his podcast, there were three things he said that had me re-look at March 30th. For him, they may have been passing comments; not really the relevant part of his talk. For me, they were nuggets that wedged in my being, wouldn’t let go, wanting me to see the relevance for me at this moment in time.
The first two (paraphrasing):
“Life is meant to be lived joyously”
“Life, the Universe, God, whatever you call it, is always working on your behalf. Everything that happens, happens for you…not to you.”
These are not new concepts for me, particularly the last one. I have been living with cancer for a couple of years now with the idea that cancer was something that has happened for me, not to me, and I have seen, over and over, the gifts that have come from adopting this perspective. Sometimes, though, old ideas land anew when the timing is right…”Everything happens for you"…"it is always working on your behalf"…March 30th. I stopped the podcast and smiled. I chuckled, “Ahhh, I got it. I got it, and I bet you were wondering whether I would,” I found myself saying to Life. I'm sure Life smiled back.
Unbeknownst to me, every choice I had been making to have fun before March 30th, came from the place of, ‘Life is meant to be lived joyously’. I have no place or time right now for the ‘should haves', nor am I going to waste time doing things because I don't know how to say no. I'm not going to waste the day on my smartphone, nor spend any time lamenting March 30th’s arrival. I ran on a Saturday morning because I could, and that brought a smile to my face; walked in the rain in Victoria with dear friends, because it brought a warmth to my heart; stood on a cliff overlooking Haro Strait with Wes, because the extraordinary beauty brought a sense of peace to my entire being. Life being lived joyously.
It was about making every moment count, and that was the gift of March 30th. It wasn’t jail. It was Life. Life putting a date out there, a demarcation, a before and after. Life, conveniently presenting an opportunity, if I chose to look at it that way. An opportunity for me to grasp how life has always meant to be lived...we only have a finite amount of days so make the most of them! Through my choices everyday, was I going to choose joy or choose my habitual way of being? I chose joy and pray that complacency does not creep in without the aide of an artificial date bolstering my awareness.
There is a phrase that momentarily and quietly saddens me whenever I hear it. It goes something like this, “Well, I figure I have about 25 years left so I...” I want to respond, “No, you only ever have right now, and anytime we think we know how long we have, it allows us to think we have plenty of time to start doing the things we’ve wanted to do, and stop doing the things we don’t.”
The third comment from David Manning:
This isn’t a new concept either, but its timing was appropriate. Today, I have resistance to March 30th. I wish I didn’t, but I do. I’m not yet ready to embrace the chemotherapy experience. When I think about chemotherapy I can feel a tightening in my being that is the equivalent to, “Nooo, I don’t wanna!” For right now, I’m ok with that. I choose to see it as a natural response to feeling so good. But, I do know that by the time March 30th arrives, I will be in acceptance not resistance, because resistance does not serve me. As Carl Jung said, “ What you resist persists.” For chemotherapy to work as best as it can, I choose to see that it and I are working in unison, on behalf of the healing in my body, for my highest good. It will make me well, not sick. And that brings joy to my heart in and of itself. March 30th…all will be well.