I am coming out of a physical downturn of late. A couple of days ago I had another liter of fluid drained from my lungs, which made me breathe easier. I went to “chemo school” this week as well in preparation for beginning chemotherapy in the next week. In both experiences the health care providers emphasized my being proactive with any physical discomfort. So with some pretty radical lifestyle restructuring – like eating six small meals a day instead of 2-3, I am physically on the mend, which also means my head is in a better place.
About ten friends have joined together to study a book I mentioned before On The Brink of Everything by Parker Palmer. I am amazed at how true that title is regardless of my circumstances. I have really no idea what chemo is going to bring but it is truly the Brink of new experiences and possibilities.
This understanding has also shaken me out of a funk I have been in of late. Although I weeded, fertilized, and prepared a couple of beds for fall crops, I had yet to plant the seeds. Part of my reluctance was my new limited diet and problems with digesting the high fiber vegetables I intended to plant. I also had concerns about even being able to keep up the gardens this fall if chemotherapy proves to be a rough experience.
Today, I planted the seeds. If I can’t eat the bounty, there are plenty who can. (Speaking of which, if anyone local wants some fresh-cut basil, I got a ton of it – let me know.) If I cannot maintain the crops alone, other folks can help.
I had two motivating factors in planting the seeds. First, I did not want December to come with unopened seed packets and overgrown beds, but me being in reasonably good health, regretting my inaction. This is the very logic that convinced me to go back to school after my first year of sobriety, and it carried me through to a PhD. I did not want to be sitting here 20 years later regretting roads not traveled.
Perhaps most importantly is the appreciation of the AA slogan One Day At A Time. In today’s world of mass shootings, genocide, natural disasters, road rage and a myriad of other factors, I can die from many other causes long before my stage four cancer works its own kind of magic. I truly have only today, this hour, this minute. When I planted the seeds today I found an enjoyment and a sense of purpose in bringing new life and abundance to the world. Having a reason to get up in the morning, whether to weed the crops, sit along the River with Emma and Grace, meet refugees with comfort kits at the bus station, attend a worship service with my friends, or work on a new skill in digital design – I know are reasons for living, cancer or not.
As I have written on many occasions, my best preparation for dealing with cancer today is my recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous, and living one-day-at-a-time for the past 30 plus years.