“We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told”.
This is what I read from Henri Nouwen today. This is what propels me to continue to write, despite self consciousness or notions that I will become lost down my own narcissistic melee.
I read others’ blogs about metastatic breast cancer. They seem hopeful and more focused than my own writing, which is more often mired in confusion. I’m scrambling about, my relationships are messy, my thoughts disjointed and all over the place. I have no plan for how to handle this disease other than just face it, one day at a time. Walk with it.
More than anything else, now, my body is tired. No energy. Running out of gas. This must be what it’s like to be 90 years old. Failing. But my blood tests look good, they tell me. I look good, they tell me. Do they know what a struggle I have just to get out of bed in the morning? Still exhausted after spending the whole night in bed.
I use my bed as a place of refuge. I feel safe there, even if I’m not sleeping. (I do make my bed every morning and only rest on the top of it during the day.) I know how to meditate / pray, using my breath as a way of wordless dialogue with “out there” / Other. This has become a major cornerstone of my way of coping. A place where I can just be, letting things be as they are. An active practice of being utterly passive.
I can watch the neurotic patterns that enter my thoughts: my worries and confusions. I learn to let these fall into the background (they always want to take to the forefront of the center stage). I use my mantra-word to pull my focus back to the dialogue. The present. The now. That fine edge of me & Out-There.
It is a place where I am fed. Like nursing on the Great Mother Earth, those grand and mysterious universal energies that surround and sustain and are us. Or simply Shavasana.
Sometimes I let myself wonder about death. Am I practicing? Am I dying?
I think that dying is ok. Necessary. Good, even. But there seems to me something that is being worked out in me, in my life, that is necessary as well. Something that calls for personal courage and assent. A let it be done to me. A yes, ok. It’s not a battle, but a risk. A trust.
For now, I am determined to be as healthy as I can in my body. To move, to eat right. To not succumb to whatever it is that is coaxing me from around my edges. A darkness. The shadow of Death.
I read about the man who spent the last 30 years of his life, alone in the wilderness of Alaska. I could do that too. I am inspired by his living his dream. I want to do that too.
Death is not leaving life. Death is entering more fully into life.
I look forward to getting past that last chemo and onto restoring my body. Eating vegetables and fruits. Exercising (or, at least, moving). Not being tired.
Note: This is the full Henri Nouwen quote:
“One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this: “I have nothing original to say. Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to.” This, however, is not a good argument for not writing. Each human person is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived. Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well. Writing can be a very creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others.
“We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.” – Henri Nouwen