As I walked to church yesterday I recalled this past August when I first received my cancer diagnosis. A doctor said I could be dead by Christmas. An oncologist advised that I have a back-up if I planned to teach my scheduled graduate seminar this past fall semester. Fast forward to today, I taught the seminar, turned in the final grades, and now, on Christmas Day, I am still very much alive.
In my last post I wrote about my Early Christmas Gift – a prognosis considerably more optimistic than back in August. The past five months have been a journey of discovery. Here is an affirmation that sums up much of my thinking today:
I tell this cancer these things. Thank you for teaching me to stop and listen. Thank you for reminding me what is truly important. You can go now. I know that I have things to do, gifts to give, purposes to accomplish. I require a healthy working body for this. – Belleruth Naparstek, Health Journey Guided Imagery to Fight Cancer
Toward that understanding, over these past five months:
- I am considerably more mindful and intentional of how I spend my time. I do not rush through process, but savor and enjoy each experience more and more.
- To resolve my overextended existence, I say “No” more often and no longer chase after folks unwilling to respect our mutual time.
- Today, quality time with my wife takes priority in all things.
- My standard line that “I am saving that for good” is meaningless as today is as good as it will get.
- The “forgivability of the error” has never been more pressing when it comes to taking care of myself physically, mentally, spiritually.
- The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the basis of my sobriety, are as relevant and applicable to my life today as in 1984 when I walked into a detox center. I share my experience, strength, and hope with others.
As well, over the past five months my attitude of gratitude has deepened:
- to my wife, Emma, who has been my best friend and mate for nearly 20 years.
- to my church community at Rayne Memorial UMC where I am spiritually fed every week.
- to my fellow pilgrims in the School for Contemplative Living with whom I explore and experience the wisdom of the mystics of the past and present.
- to my colleagues, students, and friends from across the world who have shared their support, prayers, greeting cards, or visited me here in New Orleans.
- and I am most grateful for the opportunity to walk this earth for the past 65 years along a road toward true self.
So, I am very much alive today. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, either in terms of cancer or a myriad of other ways to test my mortality. But I do know the affirmation I quoted in a previous blog post:
I will get well not out of the fear of dying but out of the joy of living.
is where the action is at for me today. I look forward to planting and then harvesting the satsuma and lime trees Emma and I gave each other to celebrate our recent wedding anniversary, and all the other experiences that are part of my joy in living today.