Holding It Lightly.

A writerly friend came by yesterday for a chat/visit. It
was, like last weekend, lovely to talk about things of that world, to remind ourselves who
we are, what we have to offer, to exchange thoughts on the same wavelength.
Also, she asked me an interesting question, the exact
wording of which, I forget, but went something like: Do you now feel like a
She described her vision of how I’ve faced cancer as someone
who simply saw what was, rolled up her sleeves, and walked through. This is
what’s happening, Okay, here we go.
It touched on the thing people have often said to me during
this time: You’re so brave. But, as I told my friend yesterday, it doesn’t feel like that. It doesn’t and hasn’t felt like I’ve
saddled up, holstered up, and said, Okay Cancer, Let’s Dance with the Devil. I
told her, it’s simply felt like the only road available to me. Following down
the only path you see isn’t exactly brave, it just
is. I told her it would be like people saying, You’re
so brave to have brown hair, when that’s not any of my doing – it just is.
I can accept that my seeing this one and only option,
to walk through this, can be construed as brave. But it’s hard for me to take
on that mantle. It reminds me of how I see myself, and some of my friends, as
people who climb to the top of a mountain, and then, instead of turning around,
and acknowledging the climb and the feat it took to get there, simply look
forward and attack the next mountain – that self-congratulations, or
acknowledgement isn’t quite part of my make-up. But, perhaps it should be.
That’s a component of self-esteem, isn’t it? Acknowledging what is worthy about
ourselves; acknowledging our strengths.
So, I suppose, Yes. I suppose it was pretty badass of me.
Even though, as I told her and as I’ve written here, it hasn’t been perfect;
there have been breakdowns, tears, complaints, despair, anger, numbing. But,
even so, like a person with a leg in a bear trap, I’ve kept limping forward.
I mentioned to her that, as I was prepping for the literary agent meeting last week, it was strange to read this blog closely from where it began to be about cancer in October. That as I went back to read it through, the thing that struck me
the most was how I was asking the same exact questions at the beginning as I am now “at the end.” Who am I,
What am I doing with my life, How do I engage more in it, What are the
qualities of responsibility and perseverance, Will I/Do I have more of them?
She said something novel: That it was a relief that, in my
coming through this event, I still asked the same questions. ??! I pushed
further. She said that perhaps these questions could be held as comforts, as
old friends, instead of as desperate, aching mindfucks. That perhaps I could see them not as points of self-derision and failure, but simply as questions
that accompany me – not follow, hunt, or stalk me. Can I see this
cacophony of questions as comforts?
Well! I’d never ever thought of that before, so let’s sit
with it for a minute. Maybe. It certainly would be relieving!! Instead of beating
myself with the existential questions of my life, perhaps I could greet them,
sit with them. Maybe even invite them.
Maybe I can turn the volume down, if they’re not attacking
me anymore. Maybe they retreat and resolve into the ether, and I become aware
of them, but only vaguely and serenely.
“Who am I?” “What am I doing or to do with my life?” are
questions which have haunted me. And maybe I don’t need to answer them. At
least, not in the way I’ve been desperate to. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s