So here's a new thing I'm doing. I downloaded this awesome bomb countdown thingy (that I also use in my classroom- the kids dig it hardcore), and I make myself write. I make myself write and I can not stop writing until the bomb explodes and the alarm sounds.
Sounds not so bad, right? Especially since I only set it for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. (?) But, here's the thing which I did not realize until I heard Jon Kabat-Zinn (thanks Candi, for the heads up on those podcasts, btw) say it the other day, and that is that writing - or rather stringing words together in a manner that is meaningful to other people and yourself- is a sincere form of meditation. And since this is the form I've been practicing for some 20 years now, this is a good way for me to force myself to bring my thoughts to the surface.
I have a quote on my wall that says "In my world, nothing ever goes wrong." I have that quote there not because I understand it or because it defines the way I look at things, but because I strive daily to think that way. I strive to believe that every day up until this one was perfect in that it brought me to this very moment, which is exactly where I need to be. That everything that has come into my life has had something really important and really wonderful to teach me, and that, therefore, there have been no mistakes.
That's so hard. Like seriously hard. No mistakes? Like none at all? What about that Beatles haircut I had that one time. Or those skinny jeans. That night in Tijuana. Or the bad boy boyfriend. Actually, all 9 of the bad boy boyfriends.
On one hand, yes, I can see that's it true- there are no mistakes. Because if I hadn't done all those goofy things I did, then I may not be here, where I am today. And it feels pretty obvious to me that this IS where I'm supposed to be, even though it's not permanent. But then I think about all these great people around me that I've just now figured out that I keep at arm's length because... because.... because why? Because I don't want to see new friends hurt the way old friends did when we thought I was going to die? Because I lost so many friends during this whole journey through cancer and I don't think I could take that again? Because of those people that couldn't accept me for who or where I was?
And what does that mean anyway, "when we all thought I was going to die." I mean, hello, I'm still going to die. And I hate to tell you this, dollface, but you are, too. Relatively speaking, we're all going to do it (no, not that, I mean we're all going to die) pretty soon. You know, like within the next hundred years. So why, after we get the all clear/no melanoma news do we pretend that death was never really there?
I remember after my brief stint in the hospital last year that as I was coming to terms with everything I was really weepy. And I wonder if I'm just allowing myself to just heal a bit here. Maybe that's why I've been so emotional- because I'm letting another layer dissipate. Because I'm opening up a little more. It has to be. Or hopefully, because here's something scary- I cried today during Project Runway. Project Runway people. Is that even possible? Like seriously.
The good news is I do see myself recently being much more real about how I feel and allowing myself to move through these things. Being honest about my emotions instead thinking I always have to be so tough or deal with them privately. That was more about me not wanting others to feel uncomfortable than about just being honest. And so now I feel like I'm moving forward. Moving through the pain of the past, moving through the pain of my "mistakes." Moving through the fear. Moving through the impermanence.
But in a really good way. In a way that cancer patients seem to understand. In a way that we all should and can understand, but maybe just lie to ourselves about because the thought of not being in control of it all is so harrowing.
Lori Hope, who I simply love, had an excerpt on her blog from Kairol Rosenthal's upcoming book, "Everything Changes: Living with Cancer in Your 20s and 30s” that I was just so blown away by. I am going to run out and snag up this book the moment it hits the shelves. Here's an abridged version of some of what she had to say: "In the midst of my cancer, I found myself surrounded by peers who had the luxury of not facing illness and death each morning when they looked in the mirror. Some have placed my proximity to death on a pedestal, as though I am a beacon who, at a young age, is bestowed the honor of looking the scary beast of death straight in the face. I want people who live free of cancer to know that everyone has the choice to become deeply familiar with their own mortality. Most young adults can’t imagine death as clearly or as vividly when they are healthy. . . It is your responsibility none the less... Young adults living with cancer are not, and never chose to be, the death and dying ambassadors from our generation... We are all dying. Once you face this sharp and weighty reality, you will be able to sit beside your young friends who have cancer with less fear... less nervousness... erase the boundary that divides us and them, the sick and the well... From this place, you can provide the very simple comfort of compassion that people living with cancer desperately want.”
Amazingly written. Have you been to that place where you look death in the face and realize for the first time that you are so much bigger than it, that you are so much more expansive and beautiful than it? So much so that none of us should ever really consider that, death, an ending? From that place you not only look your poor friend in the eye and supply some support, but you can provide your own comfort, too. You can do as Lao Tzu, that smart bastard, said- you can know at the center of your being all that you are.
And so I pray I'm there. Or at least one step closer to being in that place than I was yesterday. Even if it's a tiny little step, it's something I'm thrilled to be millimeters closer to.
And if I am, I'm going to actually open up and allow myself these new friendships.
That's right, I said it. I'm allowing new, genuine, deep, frightening close, painful, beautiful friendships with the good people that surround me. Good people that don't want me to be anything except myself. And whether it hurts or not, I am forcing myself to relish the moments within those friendships for as long as I'm granted them.
Thanks to each of you who read this and allow me to be your friend.
Aww. Hold me.