“The trouble is you think you have time.” - Buddha
Note: This is a rambling passage. It is severely unedited. It is not grammatically correct. It sometimes comes out in full sentences and sometimes does not. I needed for it to come out. Read on if you like, preferably without judgement and with an open heart.
I sit here typing. I sit here considering briefly that tomorrow I will be 40… that today I am 39. I consider this past year’s events in my life. I consider the passing of time. I consider briefly the trajectory of my life thus far. I notice. I feel thankful, overwhelmed, sad, thrilled, grateful, hopeful, present, far away, happy, grounded, stretched, curious, faithful, completely unsure, peaceful, anxious, wounded, healed, childlike, wise, unknowing, embodied, disjointed, and open. I feel all the things. All of them. Sometimes all at once. Sometimes one at at a time. Right now... I feel them all at once.
Incoherent Ramblings on Age/Time/Life as a Canvas...
Age is a number. The years encapsulated within this number, still ticking by, are a testament that the universe/god/God/fate/destiny/etc. conspired to create me and enable me to live to collaborate on this life— this living. The seconds, minutes, hours, days, years are scrolling canvases touched by a spark of creation and evolved to display a many layered and multi-faceted painting, thick with layers of experience, wet with tears of both joy and sadness, dry and thin in places. The canvas stretches to reach beyond itself to become what it is supposed to become, to be fully embodied, to understand. It is, at times, monochromatic. Black and white for a moment, but gray when blended… swirling in confusion or moments of despair. Then color. Sweet color breaks through or layers on top of the gray. In moments, in prolonged moments of eye opening golden, striking, welcoming swaths of wide brush strokes and delicate drops the landscape shifts. At first the shift is tepid and then more purposeful, though sometimes heavy handed. Light fills the canvas at times as inspiration from others' moments shows through and reflects. Reflecting on the canvas. Noticing. Opening up. It holds learnings, texts, change… change. Change. Learning to allow the blending when appropriate, finding the patience to let things dry and be for but a moment or for a while. What is a while? Sitting in the gray. What color am I supposed to be? A kaleidoscope of colors at different ages, stages, locations, in each moment anew? I am filled with light, music and expansiveness. I am closed with fear and melancholy for a moment. Noticing. Growing. Splatters, strokes, abrupt markings, blank space. All necessary to create the creation that is ever expanding and connecting and noticing and shrinking and expanding again. And, in gratitude, again.
This past year. This past year I stepped up and fulfilled a calling to teach when the time presented itself. My heart opened up and friends and students entered in. Connections were created in mind, body, and spirit both internally and externally with others. My children changed from five, to six years old and from seven, to eight years old. They grew in so many obvious and less obvious ways. Love was/is hard. Parenting was/is hard. My heartstrings tug/were tugged. My love grew stronger as my marriage grew older, moving into its second decade of existence. My parents were/are with me still and my children get to grow up with them in this moment; they get to build memories and layers with them. What a gift. Life circled in a beautiful way that I never might have thought possible, as I met my adult siblings for the first time, and they met my people. Worlds disconnected came together as my family grew and relationships grew, too. Colors splashed, intermingled, and a whole new layer began. What a gift. I danced on the trading floor of the old Chicago stock exchange. I danced in a huge, almost empty, beautiful old room... in a museum... in Chicago... with my five-year old daughter. We danced to the notes being played on a grand piano in the corner of that room. Danced to notes played by a child I don’t know. My husband and newly connected family watched from the doorway. For a few seconds. For a brief moment. Flash.
Then… a car accident... but everyone was safe. Another gift. Then… I felt different. I sensed a strange foreign darkness within my body. I sloughed it off. I kept noticing the feeling and I paid attention. I can still feel that moment of. time. stopping. of me. closing. my eyes. in an effort to truly notice and pay attention to that inner voice that was quietly calling out. I felt it. A shadow. Local and detectable darkness. A black hole of energy under my skin. It lasted for more than a few days. I reached out to my doctor. Flash. It’s probably nothing. Flash. There’s something but it might be nothing. Flash. Time began to slow. A memory of a woman, bald from chemotherapy, smiling and walking with her two young boys immediately following my biopsy. Time felt like it began to trudge. A glance between Matt and me. Fear, love, and courage blending. Flash. “You have cancer,” said Dr. Overstreet as a tear rolled down her face. Multiple flashes. Darkness. Wailing. Calming. "I’m sorry." How can this be? It is. This is not my story. This is not his story. This is not my children’s story. It is. Flash. Sharing the news via phone, text, in person. Opening up to my little world… again, and again, and again. Reimagining my story, our story. Letting go of expectations. Slowly things began to take shape between diagnosis, prognosis, scans, referrals to doctors, selections of doctors, a treatment map and timeline. Breathe. Time seemed to slow down. Time was lost. Time. 39. Moments were gained. Fears that this was not the way it was supposed to be subsided and the potential for growth for all touched by this presented itself. There is something to gain and so many enhanced and magnified opportunities to grow in times of challenge. My chin lifted, my hair began to fall out, was cut short, shaved off, and then was gone completely. Completely gone. My people began to surround me in prayer, positivity, and love. My heart opened up. Swirling between joy, sadness, depression, fatigue, mental softness, strength, vulnerability, and an ongoing realization that we are guaranteed nothing but being born and dying. The rest is unknown and waiting to be turned towards, to be born out of, to be sung, to be laughed and cried, to be hugged and kissed, and to be danced. To be danced.
It moves by in a flash. Close your eyes and take in the brilliance that is this moment.
In lieu of battling this cancer, because perhaps I had been given the luxury of a good prognosis, I made room for it… for a while. I held space for it. I intended to learn from this uninvited visitor. It was in no way a friend, but still it offered itself up as an opportunity to slow down and consider things— to pay special attention. The darkness began to break down. Meanwhile, the tips of my fingers and toes became somewhat numb, my nails discolored, and heart kept unfolding. People, kind people kept showing up and connections kept being made that would not have had this darkness not settled in as an uninvited and unwelcome guest. Flash. Chemotherapy was done. Six rounds. Five months. Done.
We traveled up the coast to celebrate being together. I relished in feeling whole (other than my lack of hair). Pre-surgery. I opened my eyes to the beauty of the fields, of my family, of a waterfall, of the trees, of the taste of good coffee and great food. I could taste again.
Nipple sparing double mastectomy with reconstruction. Clear margins. No lymph node involvement. All good news. Presumably cancer free. Whole swaths of time evade me. General anesthesia, narcotics, etc. I was not present. I began to come back. People showed up again in love, light and in so many beautiful and uplifting ways.
No radiation. NO. Radiation. Golden sunbeams everywhere. FLASH.
My hair is growing back in slowly/quickly and I can now see a few gray hairs. This surprises me though I don’t know why. What good fortune that I get to see them grow. Who would have thought that gray hairs could be a blessing? Now I am looking forward and sitting in tilted stillness. This shadow will forever be in my shadow and part of my ongoing story. This dis-ease is a forever present memory, condition, and teacher. I will be medicating it for years so that it stays at bay. I am so lucky to have these years to spend living.
Today is the last day of “39.” I am blessed. Not #blessed... but truly blessed. The canvas stretches on into the unknown with an inconceivable palette, unforeseeable layers, impossible to believe reflections, and into the blank space. I am grateful for 39. Flash. 40...