For the first time in my life I am on the sidelines of the circus out there—all the issues, events, chaos, and change that made me thrive before… before I went under for surgery for ovarian cancer, before chemo treatment became a regular recurrence.
Where I used to be caught up in the activity of each day, instead I have days that stretch out before me. This at first was terrifying, and once in awhile is still terrifying. But what I am learning to do is to have things to look forward to that do not involve engagement with the huge worldwide arena.
Teddy Roosevelt wrote of “the man in the arena” who “dares greatly.”
My “daring greatly” has been of a different kind.
- I lean into the fear. When I have feelings of fear, as any person in cancer recovery is apt to have, I let it happen—not for hours or days, but for a little while. Then I meditate. Just as some use prayer, I use meditation to clear my mind and center me. Both prayer and meditation have the same effect of grounding all of us in a higher power, whether that be a mainstream religion or the universe.
- I recognize what I have. Because chemo keeps me close to home with its unexpected side effects, I looked around at what I had. What I found was a beautiful home that was beginning to look frayed. So out came the paintbrush and the sander, and voila! (Well, not so voila, it was a lot of work!). My 20-year-old Adirondack patio furniture was refurbished, complete with repairs to rotted wood. It now looks elegant instead of forgotten.
And that was just the beginning. I am slowly transforming every room in my house with new paint, new pictures, re-arranged furniture. I am told that this is Morita Therapy, a Japanese method for lifting the spirit by changing the physical perspective. Whatever it’s called, it works.
- I found my people. Using social media to relay my progress was a given—in many ways, social media is where I live. What I did not count on, however, was the tight-knit support group that sprang up overnight to help with the day-to-day emotions, and the issues that arise in recovery. This group appointed themselves. I’ve told them that they are now stuck with me forever. They don’t seem to mind.
The First Turning does not have to be a mega-event. It does not need to be a technological revolution. It has come quietly, as Carl Sandberg wrote “on little cat feet.” Compassion brings out the best in all of us. My recovery has created within me a sense of gratitude, for all of the events and people who have sprung forward to assist me. I have learned to accept help, which to this point was nearly impossible, For me, giving help was easy… but receiving? That meant showing my vulnerability and thankfulness. It is somehow a relief to do so.
This is indeed a personal First Turning. It is a kinder, more collaborative world. And it started, not in Silicon Valley, or at the Vatican, but in my own backyard.