My cousin, Colette, saw this quote on a whiteboard somewhere and sent it to me recently, and it just seemed to fit so well.
What timber are you cutting today?
We all manage so much over the course of our lives, but there are times when the timber gets really thick, or the saw pile gets really deep, and we have to find the strength to get through it.
On my son’s 15th birthday this year, I walked smack into a whole wide unexpected forest. Diagnosed with colorectal cancer at 11:00 am, I was baking an apple pie at 2:00. My husband and I stumbled through the birthday supper, not looking at one another, and waited until the kids were in bed to stare at one another in crazed disbelief.
My whole life just slammed to a stop, and I was left staring absentmindedly into space or crying in dark corners between doctors’ appointments and scans. My thoughts coiled and uncoiled like a rope. Sometimes panic took the end of the rope in her teeth and ran and ran and it took all of my strength to reign her in.
This is my one of my first blog posts, and I don’t want it to be all about cancer. I want it to be about rewriting life, and cutting through the noise and expectations we shoulder everyday.
The meat falls away from the bone so quickly when things fall apart. Work – there was no way I could navigate my demanding job and deal with cancer treatments at the same time. Social commitments – all of a sudden, my friends became lifelines. Family time – yes please! Each and every interaction with my kids, husband and family became more special to me.
I can look back now only two months later and see how quickly my priorities shifted. I can also look back to that day and remember one strategy that I developed that reliably eased my stress and panic.
It was a visualization strategy, inspired in part by a book I was reading about Buddhism and then brought to life by my observation of a black speck that appeared in the water of my bath that evening. I watched the speck as it dipped and dived with the movement of the water. I moved my knee, and it swirled about in the eddy I created. I sliced my hand sideways and the speck lifted slightly towards the surface on the wave I brought forth.
Watching that speck, I realized that I was exactly the same. No more important, no less important, but caught up in waves and motions that I really could not control. I settled my shoulders down and relaxed and took some deep breaths and thought to myself that I would flow gently along with the waters I was immersed in.
Every day I did this visualization, and it brought me great relief.
What responsibility we shoulder! What great draughts of importance we gulp everyday! Recognizing our humble nature and honouring our helplessness is so freeing.
All we have is this moment in time – the past is gone and the future is yet to come. Right here, right now, we have some substance. Everything else is but a dream.