Take sips of breath all day and night.
Before death closes your mouth.
A few days ago my cousin posted a blurry but cool looking photo of an owl he had startled in his backyard one night. The posted responses, except mine, were all along the lines of "Scary!" which surprised and baffled me. Owls are beautiful! What does a human being have to fear from an owl? Nothing. What does an owl have to fear from a human being? Lots. Mike's explanation (of sorts) was that most city or suburban people fear animals, etc., in the country. And that country people fear cities...Anyway another friend told me about her son-in-law who had lung cancer. As he was dying, he would not speak of death, or allow anyone else to speak of it. Fear.
When Julie, Morgan, and I went to Tanzania, I noticed we all had different fears. Morgan was afraid of insects. Jules got very nervous flying. I dove underwater with my snorkel and panicked. Who can really understand someone else's fear? None of it, really, makes any sense. Sure, some bugs can kill you, people die in plane crashes, and people certainly drown...but there is no activity you can do with a guarantee you'll live through it. It's all irrational and yet...it's real in the body, and must be paid attention to. I am grateful I've had to do this very little (until now.)
Do I truly have anything to fear from chemo? Well. Maybe. Probably? I won't know how it is until I do it. As with cancer itself, there are a lot of totally different kinds of chemotherapy. The word is strongly evocative. An image perhaps of Meryl Streep, skeletal in a hospital bed. But overweight people have a cancer advantage, a little known fact. (Actually, not true at all except in the sense that we can lose weight without looking like a living skeleton...) So discomfort/pain and death are the possibilities. Death at this stage very unlikely. Worse things, things I can't even imagine now. It's all just ideas right now. The reality is not known. It's the idea of an owl...or a rattlesnake.
I led a ritual to Perfect Wisdom (Prajna-paramita) Wednesday night which I really enjoyed. Among many other things, people chose and read relevant teachings, including a flash mob style Rumi poem. Listening to the readings, the whole thing really, was healing for me. I felt my fear leave me...not really leave me, but relax the grip on my heart. Here is what I read (from Osho's commentary on the Heart Sutra)
...you think stones are food and you eat them; then you suffer, then you have a great stomachache. But if it is real food then you don't suffer, then you are satisfied. Suffering is created by ideas that don't go with reality; bliss is created by ideas which go with reality. Bliss is a coherence between you and the truth; suffering is a dichotomy, a division between you and the truth. When you are not moving with truth, you are in hell; when you are moving with truth, you are in heaven - that's all.I want to think of chemotherapy as an adventure. An adventure in how things are.