A follow-up to my last video about striking a balance between belonging and being true to yourself.
I have been grumpy these days. I am hesitating to write today because I feel that writing like this is just a big, fat complaint. However, many of you have said it feels real and vulnerable so I will go for it with this permission! A friend recently told me that she wondered when all of the gratitude and joy towards having cancer would wear off and I would just in the mud and pissed off. Here we are!
This cycle has been particularly difficult – it’s the first one I’ve gone through completely alone and as I mentioned in the last post, I’m struggling with the conundrum of no longer wearing the banner of I’m going through chemo!, as I transition to post-chemo: weak, immune-compromised, and alone. Yesterday I bumped into a friend on my evening walk – it was a man who back in January expressed a serious concern about what was happening with me and a sincere desire to support me as I went through it. I never heard a word from him since. And just two weeks ago a close friend from abroad promised to show up in a specific way during my last cycle and she went completely silent on me. As if I wasn’t already feeling abandoned enough! There is some self-judgment hidden in here too – in this life I have not been a particularly wonderful caretaker or support person, often feeling very unsure of how to show up for others in difficult situations. I realize that these situations are reflections of the others’ situation and state and not necessarily something intrinsic in me. I have learned a lot from being in the role of needing help and support that will eventually empower me if and when I am in the role of the giver. Two points come immediately to mind:
1) Genuinely inquire into what the person needs in the current moment and don’t assume that you know. Today’s needs may be different than yesterdays.
2) Be honest about your boundaries and abilities to give and support and don’t make promises that may be difficult to keep
This week I also began asking myself: why am I focusing on these particular cases other than the abundant support that I have been receiving? The answer is that I’m a little depressed. It’s hard to admit this to myself as I don’t think I’ve experienced this outside of a day or two or in acute situations like a breakup or sudden loss. I’m trying to explore this space with curiosity and wonder, as it is something that has affected many people very close to me, family in particular. As anyone with depression can tell you, that cup looks half-empty way more frequently than it does half-full!
Yesterday I took the step of reaching out to the social worker at my doctor’s office who directed me to a series of support groups and therapists covered under my insurance plan. I am already in the process of initiating contact with a few therapists to get his process moving.
The other thing that I’m pondering right now is something that I’ve always struggled with in life, getting out of the way of my own past. What I mean by this is that much of what we are doing in life is a sort of performative dance where we are creating a presentation package to the outside world. When the previously offered presentation package (mask, ego, shell, whatever you want to call it) conflicts with the present-moment, who I am right now, a dissonance is created. I will call out my friend Jessica because we have laughed about this many times – she’s known me for almost 20 years and in the beginning, I was a corporate guy, in a long-term monogamous relationship, generally rather Boulder status-quo and over the years a lot of shifted for me and my attitudes and practices in life started changing rather dramatically. Many times Jessica would say “Keith I just can’t believe it!” when it came to some recent experience I had that conflicted with that early 2000’s Keith presentation package.
This dissonance has never been more apparent – of course, none of us are who we were 20 or even 5 years ago, but in my current situation, I can barely recognize the Keith of just a few years ago with all the changes that have happened in my life, to my body, and in my heart. Maybe there is a request in here. Mostly to myself, but also to you, dear reader: I’m simply asking to be met anew, for this current moment version of Keith to be given space to be present and alive, with all of his beauties, flaws, mysteries, and idiosyncrasies.
BTW, the support wall is still growing. This, I am VERY GRATEFUL for:
Hi All – I’ll be hosting a synchronized spring equinox meditation this evening. Join for all or part of it if you can!
This is an auspicious time and day in which our intentions and wishes that were planted and have been germinating within the previous season have the potential to burst forth in wild, optimistic color. Let’s dedicate this meditation to the healing and wellbeing of the planet and all beings.
Find somewhere to sit quietly with distractions set aside. This can even be done in bed (as you’ll see it’s very late/early in many time zones). Meditate however you wish, connecting first to yourself, then to each other, eventually to the entire planet. ‘See’ you there.
The exact moment of the equinox is 21:49 on March 19th in Colorado, so the meditation will be from:
21:25 to 22:13 MST
A few other time zones:
20:25 – 21:13 PST
22:25 – 23:13 CST
23:25 – 00:13 EST
4:24 – 5:13 (Europe)
5:25 – 6:13 (Israel)
10:25 – 11:13 (Thailand)
As I attempted a short walk today I was contemplating the overload of information that has poured into me these recent days. I’m calling it corona brain syndrome (or CBS). Many people are writing about the different opportunities that are coming with this pandemic such as slowing down, getting outside, spending time more with family, and getting in shape. Do you really need a pandemic for this? I applaud the people who are on the optimistic side of this thing. Yet there is an even more fundamental opportunity here – to deeply examine long held patterns and beliefs around attachment, health, self and other. I hope to use CBS over the coming days and weeks to explore these themes for myself.
Today I was contemplating the difficult choices that governments and individuals are making and the trade offs between these choices. In today’s news that ranges from lock it all down to live life as you always have and everywhere in between. Only time will tell who made the best choices with the limited information we have. We will analyze our individual and political choices for years to come. YET, what I am asking now is slightly more subtle: Wherever we fall on this lock down / isolation spectrum, WHAT is it that we are protecting, saving, etc. though the locking down, isolating or quarantining?
I think the default, unexamined answer is simply physical life. Being alive is assumed to be better than dying or being dead. I agree with this, most of the time! However, is this physical organism really the most important thing to protect? It’s an old question that our illness and death-averse society has avoided for a long time. Now I’m not arguing against the plans of those who can stay home alone or with their families for a week or two. This seems like a prudent, wise choice right now, one that is rather selfless and in the interest of the greater good. On the other side, I have one friend who advocates for letting the elderly and immunocompromised fare for themselves- Darwinian warfare!
But what if, our government’s decree that we need to isolate for a month, for two, for four… Let’s assume in a perfect world we didn’t have to consider financial concerns and this was possible for everyone. Then we might have to ask ourselves what does it mean to be alive – is breathing and eating and procreating enough? Or might we need some meaning in our lives? Let’s not wait until we are forced to ask this question. I will leave you with a hypothetical choice to grok: You have a near-death experience and and your guide at the end of the tunnel tells you that it’s not your time yet, you need to go back to the world but you have a couple of choices for your remaining time:
CHOICE 1: 5 years of life, healthy, routine, unexciting.
CHOICE 2: 1 month of life, also rather routine and unexciting – but touched by one very particular moment of ecstasy – be it falling in love, seeing the divine, experiencing a union with cosmos.
I’m not sure if this is a fair question – but your answer may say a lot about your current state of mind!
I just finished my second week in the healing center and my second 5-day dose of chemotherapy treatment. I desire to share more about this week- how I’m feeling and what’s next, but as I sit to write, the mind and body resist. For now, enjoy this, which actually happened last weekend.
My spirit is good. Love to you all.