Gratitude!

Gratitude!

Hi Friends, here is a quick update from post-chemo-recovery-land.

Last week I had my chemo port removed in an uneventful surgical procedure. Today I removed the final bandages to find a well-healing scar.  I am considering a tattoo in the area (this will be my first ever), so please vote on ideas!  Here are a few samples, personally the super nerdy USB port symbol is drawing my attention.

This surgery completes my formal conventional treatment. Unless I experience unusual symptoms, my next appointment will be January 2021 for a follow-up CT scan.

After a tough period in June and July, I feel I am emerging from this period of insulation and acute pain. I am managing through a series of physical complaints that I referred to last week, as to be expected for 6-12 months after an intense chemotherapy regimen.  My hair is growing rapidly and profusely: I am even grateful for those annoying nose hairs. Without them, your nose constantly drips all day long!

I am noticing the transition of my attention from day to day survival and comfort-seeking to more traditional focuses such as relationships, career, purpose, practice, meaning, etc. More on all of this soon. I’ve been able to get out into the high country to enjoy the midsummer alpine heaven that is Colorado. Attached are a few photos from a recent solo backpack from an isolated lake at 12,000 feet.

Today, I simply want to re-express my gratitude for all the support and love that continues to uplift and inspire me forward. I originally was going to start naming specific folks – however, when I sit and reflect on everyone involved, I realize this list is too long! My family, my oncology nurses, my extended community abroad, my local friends, lovers, the random social media friends following my blog, my acupuncturist, and massage therapists, and other healers: yoga therapist, oncologist, kinesiologist, astrologers. All the staff and support personal. Everyone who delivered me home-cooked meals and groceries. All the children (and adults!) who drew me pictures, sewed masks or created some art for me. My best friends who offered or did travel long distances to be with me. My spiritual community and spiritual teachers, guides, gurus, and friends- the men in my men’s community and my extended authentic and relational communities. The dark horse podcast and other online sources of inspiration in this difficult time. May more that are not coming to me at this moment. And to all of the courageous folks in every walk of life inspiring me daily.

My eyes are watery and soft as I write this list and feel overwhelmed as I remember all of the individual acts of care and love – financial and physical and emotional and so much more. I purchased a big box of thank you cards that I intend to eventually send out – for now, trust that I am grateful and I am doing my best to pay it forward with my actions and intentions as I move forward into the next phase of life.

We did this together.

Gratitude

The idea, or rather the feeling of gratitude has been growing in me lately. I’ve been wondering if it is something I can write about, determined I probably could not, until reading a friend’s post literally as if it was written to me. How serendipitous!

My gratitude extends far and wide, to the myriad things that have conspired to for me to be right here, right now. And no, not exactly sweating profusely on a rickety old bus in southern Thailand – the greater part of my right now, this entire movement towards a life of Love and Wisdom, Connectedness and Compassion.

My recent retreat focused on the concept of the spiritual heart, moving one’s center of consciousness from the mind to the center of the chest, opening towards a state of nonduality and love. The meditations were partially guided (usually the first 5-10 minutes), and one of the most poetic metaphors that kept coming up was this idea of blowing upon the ember of the heart.  The ember represents the hidden power of the light of the spirit, hidden in the material world of the earth. When blown upon, it ignites into brilliant light and heat, and when many embers are close together they can also erupt into light. Beautiful.

gratitudeI find myself often in meditation giving thanks, being grateful for so much. The cushion I’m sitting on, the Zendo I’m in and the others in it practicing with me. The Buddha, the incense and all those who worked tirelessly to produce such things. The individuals who created the conditions for the Zendo to exist, their teachers and the entire lineage. My life: my parents for their unconditional love, my sister, my greater family, friends, lovers, and even the single serving friends who passed through this existence with me just for a moment or a few hours. I am grateful for all of my teachers, old and new, the many authors and poets who have inspired me. Then there is the great expanse of mother earth, her plants and light that has nourished me, her oceans and deserts and great mountains and streams that have provided countless undulations of inspiration and bliss.  The list goes on and on.

This feeling often evokes several expressions of Dogen’s:

The entire world in the ten directions is the true human body

and part of Genjo Koan:

Conveying the self to the myriad things to authenticate them is delusion; the myriad things advancing to authenticate the self is enlightenment

 

Thank you Myriad Things…