30 May 2009
The Atlantic to left of me, the 12 Apostles to my right, here I am…
I’ve completed the first two weeks of my six weeks of combined radiation and chemo therapy. If it wasn’t for this hectic sinus cold I’m battling I would say that I feel just fine. Hang on. What I meant to say is that it’s taken a particularly nasty sinus cold for me to get the message.
Everybody around me has been encouraging me and giving me permission to just rest as much as I need to. Have I been listening? No.
I have been going here, there and everywhere. Popping into the office, seeing one or more different kinds of therapists or healers a week, if not a day! Busy, busy, busy like a bee. But I’m not a bee. (Confusing metaphor in South Africa, I know.) Perhaps it’s the fact that I recovered so incredibly well from the surgery and added to that the fact that the Radiation and Chemo treatments I’m on are so very mild. More about that later.
What I have realised in these three days in bed is that the dis-ease I have to heal myself from is not an out-of-control growth in my brain but an out-of-control compulsion to be busy all the time.
Writing that down feels like too much, too soon, too fast.
I could write pages about this. It falls under the heading, why do you think you got this cancer? I have been thinking about that since day one and since day one I’ve known that there was a part of my brain that could get onto an action or thought or plan and ride it so hard and so far and so fast that eventually it sounded like an air-raid siren in my head. So intense and without pause I would become.
To people on the outside this must have looked like many things. Sometimes it would seem like a kind of stubbornness, other times like a great ability to focus. I often experienced it as a way to disconnect from the world and what was going on around me. Excessive focus as a way to avoid life.
Just this week I was writing in my diary and I found myself worrying about arriving at the end of my six weeks of Radiation Therapy and having wasted my time. It was as startling for me to write it down as it was to wonder what it was that I would have wasted. This was before the Sinus Cold hit me so I hadn’t had the time for this to sink in but already I had a sense. This is what I wrote:
Time would be wasted if I emerge on the other end with nothing to show for it.
As I think about this now I’m less interested in the neurotic fear of missing the boat, of not delivering and I’m much more interested in what this incessant drive to be busy, to be doing something about everything all the time, is really about. What am I avoiding in my life by always being busy?
If I let this journey keep me at bay, if I allow my body to rest for the next four weeks perhaps I’ll find out.
When I found out about the tumour some six weeks ago one of my first reactions was excitement. I know this will seem foreign and perhaps even abhorrent to some, but for me the prospect of going on such a huge journey immediately spoke of opportunity to discover new territory, new places, new sensations and ultimately treasure.
So now’s the time to approach the cave one more time. Dragon’s are magical creatures. One moment they are spewing fire and fighting tooth and claw but they can be sly and crafty when they want to be. Suddenly I have to face a Dragon that seems to protect not a shiny golden hoard but a cavernous emptiness. All I can see behind the Dragon is a big dark space in which I have to lose myself if I ‘m going to defeat him.