Trusting the Agents of Fermentation

The snow falls gently outside as I sit down to write this afternoon. A gentle spring snowstorm has blanketed Colorado with a foot of snow. One of my saving graces during this period of coronavirus cancer treatment has been my afternoon stroll. These past two days were especially beautiful, snowy, cold and still. Not only is it a time for me to move my body as an important aspect of this healing process, it is also a time for me to detox my mind. It almost feels like a dog shaking off water, allowing all the fears and anxieties that may have accumulated from the news or my own mind to drop away. This time is sacred to me at this point I will not let anything prevent me from taking it as long as I am capable.

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I have had a few of you inquire as to why I have not been blogging as much recently. The first reason is that I have been very weak and tired and a serious chemo brain fog has accompanied this. The aftermath of the 3rd cycle was more severe than the previous two – I needed to rely on painkillers and for several days I slept 12-14 hours from fatigue. My bloodwork last Friday placed me square in the ‘neutropenic’ category, with near zero white blood cell and platelet counts and a lowered red blood cell count. This means that my body is unable to fight infections, bruises easily, and is rather anemic and weak. Accompanying this is a mental and emotional low. While this is a normal response to chemotherapy, I believe I had a story in my mind that somehow, I would avoid these low points, that my body would resist and not succumb to these powerful drugs. The truth is that if the body does resist and persist, my oncologist increases the dosage each round until it does not, following her carefully scripted protocol. A lose-lose? A catch-22?

The second reason I have not been writing as much is because I notice that due to reason # 1, I find myself a bit grumpier than usual and I feel hesitant to publicly complain about my situation… Yet, I know many of you are curious about my ups and downs and so I will keep sharing and exploring this process with each of you.

I have also noticed that a big part of this grumpiness is with the ongoing situation in the world, for the grief and suffering that is so present now. Nearly all of us are grieving in one way or another, for the future that has been altered or taken away from us. I have lost trust in most mainstream media and governmental information sources. I am finding solace in several alternative sources. I will share my own journey in seeking accurate signal within all the noise that is currently being generated in the public sphere. MY future has not been altered that much – in fact, nor has my present. Quarantine was already on the menu. But I grieve for the untold story unfolding – beyond the coronavirus victims. The list is long. Every reference is someone close to home for me: For those falling into addiction, for those falling into depression, for those unable to get medical care for cancer or other serious ailments, for those unable to have an abortion, for those losing their income and careers, for those children now programmed with a belief that getting within 6-feet of a stranger is dangerous, for those losing their faith, their hope or their motivation. Etc, etc., etc. These untold stories will unfold over a much longer timeframe than corona, and with much heavier and extended consequence.

For now, I just want to say that I am noticing in myself and in my friends a tendency to avoid the pain of a crumbling society and system by projecting this grief onto the OTHER: Onto our government or it is officials, onto our families or partners, onto the virus itself or onto an untold number of targets. For me, the current target of choice is the sheepishness of human beings, their lack of ability to have any autonomy or sovereignty and their willingness to simply follow certain narratives presented to them through their partners, family or media. If I look more carefully and honestly, I can see that this is my own projected judgement and anxiety at not being as sovereign and narrative free as I desire to be! We are all clutching to various stories- compilations of our past, our desires and of societies expectations or our rejection of said expectations. May this be a fruitful time of exploration of the shadowy and unexamined parts of these stories.

I leave you with a beautiful poem called Waiting, recently shared with me by a dear friend from Holland. This first line, There is a good kind of waiting which trusts the agents of fermentation has remained with me as a potent metaphor for our current moment.

Waiting

by Toko-Pa Turner

There is a good kind of waiting

which trusts the agents of fermentation.

There is a waiting

which knows that in pulling away

one can more wholly return.

There is the waiting

which prepares oneself,

which anoints and adorns

and makes oneself plump

with readiness for love’s return.

There is a good kind of waiting

which doesn’t put oneself on hold

but rather adds layers to the grandness

of one’s being worthy.

This sweet waiting

for one’s fruits to ripen

doesn’t stumble over itself

to be the first to give

but waits for the giving

to issue at its own graceful pace.

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