Monday, June 26, 2006

Cancer As Teacher

Cancer has a way of making you/me/people tune into the subtle undercurrent that is what life is really all about. Through cancer, one’s own or a loved one's, there is a shaking up of the status quo so that we notice the lessons that we needed to pay attention to all along. It has a “wake up and put away your ego score keeping and feeling entitled” kind of energy. It is about noticing or learning who you really are, and expressing that in the world. It is about coming to listen to and follow the still small voice. It is about inspiring self-care and self-discovery, in the face of the never-ending demands of others and of the world. It is about respecting others, and ourselves to the best of our ability. It is about remembering how important we are and simultaneously how insignificant we are. It is about loving and accepting ourselves just as we are. It is about letting life be life. Or, as we say in program, accepting life on life’s terms.

There is no particular reason why I am writing this. It is not like I have had any new recent bad news, but rather I just find myself in a reflective state following such a significant change of the year like Solstice (hmm, which I guess means we now find ourselves in the astrological season of cancer). Cancer has been a gift to be in so many crucial ways. And it is hard to explain it in a way that doesn’t sound like rationalization or trying to put a positive spin on things. But beyond the obvious fact that it was a huge life changer, it was also a gracious blessing. It is not a subtle wake up call, rather quite the slap to the face, but because of that I think lots of people can overlook the subtle lessons. Now that might also be because they are just your standard life lessons, the things we need to face and discovery and claim as part of our journey here regardless of who our teachers are. But part of cancer’s power is it’s force, it’s magnitude and it’s trajectory. There is no mistaking the need for change, there is no pretending it didn’t happen (unless you want to see it’s scary face rise again – cut to Jack Nickleson’s famous scene from the Shining, “I’m baaaacccckkkkkkk.”), there is no fighting back without having to fight for your WHOLE life. I see all those things as good (which I guess is a lot easier to say when you are on this end of it all). Snooze buttons are over rated. If it is time to change, and you are being so strongly called, well then it is time to change.

Make no mistake, cancer is a brutal teacher (so if there is another way to learn the lessons so you can skip cancer, I am all for that!), but it is also a loving teacher, a concerned teaching, a committed teacher, if you choose to see it that way. And seeing it that way changes everything.


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