This past year, although I roll out of bed in the morning a bit less rested and slower, I continue to start my day with positive and affirming practices. First, I write my morning pages – a sort of stream of consciousness where I record my dreams if I remember them, or reflect on life, most often on a very positive note. Next I write a notecard to someone – to catch up with a friend or thank someone for their service or other action. I then go to an Alcoholics Anonymous Facebook page and post three things that I am grateful for and scan and comment on other posts to the group. All of the above takes 30-45 minutes and starts my day on a very positive note.
And then something hit me.
This past Wednesday my School for Contemplative Living meeting opened with an “analytic mediation” instead of our usual centering prayer. The former process is thought focused as opposed to the thought-less centering prayer.
At one point, the analytic meditation suggested to focus on a point of sadness in our lives and our response to the issue. In discussing the meditation afterward, I commented that the instruction caught me by surprise. I had been quite intentional over the past year to focus on solutions, opportunities, lessons, and wisdom that could come from my stage 4 cancer diagnosis and my recent heart attack. I intentionally corrected folks who said I was “dying” and said that I was “living” today. Recently, I focused on the lesson I could learn from the heart attack, and how grateful I was that it occurred while I was at the hospital for an unrelated issue. My positive outlook makes complete sense and flows from my over 30 years of recovery from alcohol addiction.
So, I am not certain about this sadness thing.
But in the past two years, my overall physical stamina has notably decreased, though today I was able to buy lumber and bags of soil and build another eight-foot raised herb bed for our front yard. I then weeded the backyard gardens. However, less than one year ago, I could not even lift my duffel bag off of the airport luggage carousel when arriving home from Peru.
Until one year ago I owned three bicycles. I gave away my mountain bike a few months ago because I knew that my bones cannot really withstand the predictable wipeouts I experience on single track dirt paths. I now think it might be time for me to get rid of my road bike as the days of century rides are likely past. Instead, my remaining Trek hybrid is ideal for the 10-20 mile jaunts about town these days. I accept that I will not likely bike the Great River Road from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to our New Orleans home. But I am not certain that these realities make me sad. I am grateful today as I ride through the streets of New Orleans and smell the jasmine and honeysuckle in bloom – a scent that fills me with revelry of the beauty of creation.
With or without cancer, at the age of 65, my physical, mental, and spiritual life will continue to evolve. With or without cancer, I discussed with Emma that when I am unable to get out of bed to sit on the back porch, then it is time to stop whatever treatments I am receiving. I don’t know that I will be sad at that point. I have a hope, based in faith, that I will be grateful for the wonderful experience I have had on this earth, living life on life’s terms.