When one is ill, confined to a small space or set landscape- i.e. a bedroom, a kitchen and living room, specific views from specific windows, the world gets small, and within its smallness, it grows big enough to encompass the age-old search for meaning.
What is the purpose of an illness, what does it mean that one has a terminal illness, especially if one’s life has already been quite difficult? What meaning can there be in this circumstance? Is there any meaning? These are some questions I can work on in the “spirituality” group at the B.C.W. Center. This is a common thread of thought for those with cancer.
My life of struggle was interrupted just when I thought I was making progress towards happiness. Over the past three years I have changed and changed again, all in an effort to make sense of something too overwhelming for me to understand.
When I began this blog I tried to share the beauty in my surrounding through words and photographs. A year later, I am still aware of this beauty but am focused on discovering meaning versus distracting myself. But perhaps it isn’t especially good reading- the search is hard, repetitive, and my energy often low. I sort my way through trite and easy ideas lined up in my head to protect me from harder truths.
Having cancer, more accurately, having a terminal illness, spurred me to engage in life differently, to try to live better, more fully. In everything I did I was looking for transcendence, seeking the way to accept my lot, and ironically, at the same time steadfastly determining my own direction. I decided cancer was cancelled. And seemingly, it was. But I am left with many unanswered questions and uncomfortable realizations, so it sometimes feels as though I have made very little progress, indeed.
As it seems I have a period of “current remission” there is more time and reason to sort a course of action. I am impatient with my recovery: I am still in much pain, still cope with fatigue each day, still continue with rounds of treatment as though a form of remission has not occurred. Also, I can’t drive due to medications I take for pain, which inhibits my venturing into new circumstances.
The other day I cried for quite awhile, saddened by my seeming lack of direction in life and the many poor choices I made. I waited for the pain to ease, wondering what to do to contain the stream of regret. It doesn’t benefit me to linger in places where there is no more to be done. Finally, a little voice inside my head said, “You can rally. Right now, for this moment, the best thing you can do is rally.” And so I did. The next day was much better.
Chad and I talked, sharing our stories of choices made, encouraging each other. He always seemed to know what it was he wanted to do- build wooden boats, have a wife and children, work on old cars, live a simple life. I have never been that clear. Especially now.
I just finished talking with a good friend who told me about her growing interest in astronomy. She says that the Hubble telescope has turned existing scientific ideas about the universe upside down- that there are so many other galaxies in the universe now visible that new questions have been raised far beyond what was previously considered possible. She mentioned that what cannot be seen is yet there- just because it can’t be clearly made out does not mean it doesn’t exist. I found that thought comforting.