The Thick of Things
I set out on a journey with a destination in mind. There was a path I could follow. The first part of the trail was easy. It was well travelled. I took a right, down a path that would lead me out of Echo heights, to the farm where Bauer could swim. His hips were doing better, and I knew he could handle the walk to and from the swimming hole. It had been over a year since I had walked this particular path.
As I navigate through the jungle of uncertainty, I have prayed for the grace of strength, courage and fortitude. There was a plan in my head of what I was supposed to do and where I was supposed to go. All of that changed, after being informed that I had stage IV, incurable colon cancer. Time was no longer on my side. It was four months post diagnosis before there was any indication that something might be off with my health. Even then, I thought it was more related to a side effect of the Artemesium IV therapy that I was receiving. Nine months later, came the most serious issue and surgery.
I was heading down a well-known path, but as I crossed out of Echo Heights onto farm property, the path was overgrown. I had to crouch down in order to not get stuck by the thorns of the vines. The shortest and most direct route to our destination was a right turn. That was also overgrown. I knew that if I went left then right up into the forest, it would be easier to navigate. However, that path was also overgrown and I missed it. We were now on an adventure.
The path ahead was clear, and I knew that eventually it came out onto a farmer's field. I could head up the field and back into the woods. It would be a nice walk. Bauer was enjoying all the new and unfamiliar scents. The end of the path into the field was more impassable than if I had just taken that initial right.
The first major obstacle post-surgery was to get my weight back up. I was at least 25 lbs less than my typical weight, and 17 lbs lighter than I was a few weeks prior to the full bowel obstruction. It is challenging to put weight on when you don't have much of an appetite and your activity level is limited. I did manage to get back up to 113 lbs. This was still less than my ideal. My strength and stamina continued to improve, until 15 months after my diagnosis. That is when the pain and fatigue increased to almost unbearable levels. My sleep was interrupted, and the cough that had started a month earlier was not improving. The cancer had progressed into my lungs.
Foraging though the thick of things, I knew that eventually I would come to a clearing. There I would get my bearings. We backtracked to the open field. I knew that on the other side of the field there was a wider path that would take us where we wanted to go. The clearing was filled with large prickly plants. A choice. Do I navigate my way through the field or go all the way back the beginning of the path?
I chose to tackle to prickles. Thank goodness I had worn long pants. By the time we reached the path (Bauer let me lead the way and make a path through the prickly plants), we were both covered in burrs. We arrived otherwise unscathed at the destination, and Bauer had 4-5 swims before he was ready to head home. We took the direct route home, which is where I discovered that the overgrowth wasn't as challenging as I thought it would be. I was grateful that Bauer has a good sense of direction, as I am sure I would have missed the trail back into Echo Heights.
When life hands you uncertainty, and you are in the thick of things, it is challenging. You pick one path, only to discover that the obstacles are overwhelming. You might backtrack, re-orient, and find another way out. You might think that taking the "path of least resistance" is the way to go, only to discover more obstacles, detours, and a longer journey than anticipated. The more direct route, though seemed less than ideal, ended up being the easiest path to follow, for the perceived obstacle wasn't as challenging as you initially thought.
I am a Seeker. Not just of knowledge, but of Mysticism. Academics was a path that I initially chose over my intuitive, creative self. At the time of my initial diagnosis, I did my research. The odds of surviving five years were about 10%. There was a bombardment of suggestions of what to do to "beat cancer." It is very overwhelming. I prayed for guidance. Following my intuition, I have done hyperbarics, photobiomodulation, IV therapy, and ETA scanning. I was already eating cleaning and using supplements (which were modified by the Naturopath). My bloodwork still showed a progression of the tumor markers.
I lived a full life. I was on the go much of the time. From 7 am to 830 pm, if not later, there was somewhere to go, or something to do. Now from the moment I wake, to the moment I turn out the lights at bedtime, there is often nothing to do. No shoulds, or musts that need to be done. Life for me is like the space mountain roller coaster (the only roller coaster that I did not like). I never know what the next day will bring. How much pain or fatigue I feel, can dictate what I do each day.
"Taoism...is simply a particular way of appreciating, learning from, and working with whatever happens in everyday life."
The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff, was my introduction to the Tao, when I was in my early twenties. The Tao is The Way. It is about learning to live in harmony with the natural laws of the universe. The Tao is about living with things in their natural state, like an overgrown forest. By living in harmony with what is, you are more able "to enjoy the simple and the quiet, the natural and the plain."
Accepting that "Things are as they are" can be one of the many challenges in life, especially when they are not as you would have liked them to be. This is one of the obstacles on my path through the forest. I am like the crooked tree that cannot be used for lumber anymore. But while I am still alive and standing, I am able to still provide shade.
Today was a day that I needed to be gentler with myself. Having not slept well because of the discomfort, I was not only more tired but sorer. Bauer and I still did our morning walk, but I drove to the farm. I napped, made my oven roasted potatoes (with the potatoes that I grew), read, and watched a couple of educational YouTube videos. Then finished this blog that I started yesterday.
"Take the path to nothing and go nowhere until you reach it.
Because the Enchanted Place is right where you are..."