Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happiness is great, but it doesn't teach you much

Chemo #3 has been harder than either 1 or 2, if  that is possible. My body appears to be under siege by the two (ok, three) things that baffle modern medical practitioners - cancer and the common cold (and PMS). Nasty. Looking back to that first chemo where I thumbed this in below, not much is different this time but for blocked sinuses and an interior febrile feeling - that is, my head feels hot on the inside, but I have no fever (which would be serious).
"The muscles contract around my head as if to protect the neurons from onslaught. A crushing tight band runs from mid back up spine and around jaw than around temples in a vice like grip. My abdomen is distended like a malnourished child full of gas and noxious chemicals and poison"

Yes, it was like that again, in addition to a perpetually flowing head full of Shrek-pleasing green snot. Despite all this, Mike and I thought it would be good to run some simple errands after supper the other night - Shoppers, Canadian Tire and LCBO- last minute errands, and to get me out of the house and do something normal. Well about 10 minutes into normal, the walking around part of this errand run, my joints started to rebel, my body heat went through the roof and all life seemed to leave my bones. I thought - God, I could just lie down right here on the floor of CT and pass out between outdoor living and automotive. Close my eyes. Rest. Breathe.

Having a shopping cart to lean on sure comes in handy at such times.

Yet in the midst of this absolute cancerish hell, there is what we know as the festive season where we focus....on what? I currently live in a very very tightly focused world - the lens is sharp and narrow. Others are telling me that in light of my situation, they are taking stock, using my situation to rethink their own lives. Well, this is great news. I am over the moon.  Use it! Work it! Re-think away. Because it is my experience that really, one learns the most from the shit that happens, not the happy times. Happiness does not lend itself to coaching moments. Don't get me wrong, it's great, but, well....

Happiness is a greedy thing - and on its quest to be the triumphant emotion in our lives, it tends to provide us as individuals with a profound sense of entitlement - society feeds this beast regularly with advertising and in all manner of social norms.  We deserve to be happy. We deserve stuff that makes us happy. Happiness and desire are inextricably linked. But what is the flip side of that? What do we make of the horrific things that occur to us? We balk, we fight, we rebel. We think - I deserve better.
But what if we took the "deserve" part out of the life equation? What if we looked at the crap that happens to ourselves and our loved ones, and REALLY took stock, and lived through it, in it, with it, and walked away transformed? This seems to provide much richer opportunity, and well, possibility. I won't use the word "better", that is not fair, since it alludes to "worse", and really, this life is not all about diametric opposites. I, we, my people, have been provided with an opportunity. To grasp the deeper meanings in the everyday occurrences of this cancer, to look at the currents meandering through our lives which are more about living and being, and I can't help but feel we can and should learn much from them. We deserve this - to understand ourselves better. After all, isn't this all there is? Right now, this here.

What if we sit quietly, and enjoy the simple gifts laid out before us? Love, in all its complicated kindness; Work - for what it allows us to do and be; and pain, for what it allows us to appreciate in sharp contrast.
Even now perhaps more than ever Mike and I look at our life and marvel - it is a brilliant life we have here. Complicated. Frought. Rich. Painful.

So, my Christmas wish for you - go take stock; don't get the dog if you don't want one; do less, work less, read more, write poems, sleep more, walk away from the relationship that is dragging you down; go and get the life you want. It might not be the path of happiness. But don't miss the opportunity.

xo KO


Rae said...

Kate, I absolutely love reading your blog.

I'm sending all the best wishes/vibes your way for some serious pain abatement and some serious Christmas cheer.

Mine will be up among the many hopeful glasses that will be raised to your health this Christmas - looking forward to a time we'll be able to raise and lower a few together.

Have a truly lovely one, and hugs to all.

Fondly, Rae

Anonymous said...

I will head on my dream path. You continue to inspire me and teach me.

All the biggest hugs this holiday season.


Anonymous said...

Many years ago I when I was but a naive soldier with the CF I was in a trench, hungry, cold and thirsty and dying for rest, and one of my superiors told me something profound that I think of all the time....."Pain is the only sign that you are still alive" - when It boils down to it we really are simple creatures! I too raise a glass to you my dear, this holiday season.....Merry Christmas Kate....