Over a cozy cup of coffee with a friend the other day, the rain coming down so hard we laughed at the absurdities of umbrellas at times like this, she asked me: How long did it take you to accept your life circumstances?
My answer: Sometimes I think I still haven’t totally accepted these circumstances, even after almost 4 years.
I thought a lot about her question and my answer that night, tossing and turning in bed, unable to get comfortable, my stomach churning (from the side-effects of all of my medications) every time I moved.
I think for the most part I have finally learned to accept that I will most likely spend the rest of my life living with cancer. But I’m pretty sure that there is still some small part of me that thinks I’ll wake up one day to have it all just be a nightmare. Gone in the morning, just as most dreams are, unable to catch even a glimpse, how wonderful that would be.
It still seems so surreal when I write it down, think it, or even say it out loud.
The whole rest of my life. Cancer.
What will that look like?
We know what it’s looked like so far, but no crystal ball can ever prepare us for what’s coming, good or bad.
I’ve been doing a free 21-day Deepak Chopra meditation these last few days on “Desire and Destiny.” The questions are poignant: Who am I? What do I want? Things that we may think in passing but are rarely asked to muse on for longer than just a few minutes. One nugget that I’ve learned this last week is that there is more than enough abundance for all of us. I had never really thought of abundance like this before. I look on Facebook and see people dropping their kids off at camp or watch as they jet off on vacations of places where I want to go or watch them make more money than me or write a book (which I long to do, but don’t know how) and think: That’s for others, not me.
Now this new concept is turning my world upside down: You mean, despite what is going on in other people’s lives or my own, there is more than enough fulfillment to go around? I can have some too? Even though I think of myself as a pretty joyful and grateful person, I still tend to think about what I have lost at times. I know we all do, but I am learning that a big part of me, though grateful for all of my blessings, doesn’t feel comfortable asking for anything more.
But these meditations highlight not what I have lost, but what I have yet to gain. Just because I won’t have children doesn’t mean that my life can’t be so full it overflows. Just because I have to work and can’t spend a whole summer traveling doesn’t mean that my life here has to be empty. When I look for miracles, they do appear. And likewise, when I focus on the negative, more negative seems to pop up everywhere I look.
And when I fixate on how much healthier I want to feel, I forget about all of other wants and needs in my life– or more likely, I feel that I have no right to ask for more than one good thing at a time. Would it be greedy to ask for more? Or does the universe want to give us as much of the good stuff as is possible?
So the goal isn’t to be fake, it isn’t to push my feelings down and walk away from the reality of a life lived with cancer, but it’s to turn things upside down and look for the good when you feel your lemons can’t be squeezed out enough to make lemonade. It’s to look at things as full, instead of empty, and by doing so, to continue seeing the overflow of miracles and abundance, instead of the opposite.
I need to shake things up. Because sometimes, I wonder why my well feels so empty and sometimes, I wonder how to fill it up again.
Be real. Be truthful. Be open to abundance, and see what happens. I’m trying it too, and I’ll let you know how it goes.