The end of March and the beginning of April 2017 mark several anniversaries for my family and I-all of which are laden with sadness. I truthfully am still trying to wrap my head around everything this last year has been. March 30th was my grandmothers death, and little did I know, that the dawning of April would be the dawning of a very long and painful year. I’ve been contemplative and a little withdrawn lately because I’m trying to take this all in. The cancer-thing. The stage-4-cancer-thing. The loss-of-self-thing. The gaining-of-a-million-pounds-thing. You know, light stuff. (The last one kinda is light, but my newfound heavyness is weighing on my heart). (I’m cracking myself up). (I’m high).
I don’t know where I’d be without pot. I really can’t say it enough. It helps me to not take myself so seriously. It also helps me eat popcorn by the mixing-bowl-full. And I enjoy not taking myself seriously and I also enjoy eating popcorn by the mixing-bowl-full. So the way I see it, it’s is a win-win.
More importantly, it also helps me observe my thoughts. When I’m uninhibited by pots wonderfully delicious vapor (I have a vape pen), I’m able to get off my wheel of thinking; I can establish greater distance between myself and the wheel of thoughts and constant chatter in my mind. I think I remember reading in one of Pema Chodron’s books that Buddhists sometimes refer to the minds constant chatter as “monkey mind”, and I remember picturing a bunch of red “Barrel of Monkeys” monkeys “ooo!-ooo!-ooo!“-ing and “ah!-ah!-ah!”-ing through the vines of my neurons…. it really was an effective phrase with an ever more effective image for me, but anyway…. I’ve gotten much better at observing my thoughts, actually. I can recognize things a lot quicker than I remember being able to in the past. And in that recognition, I can choose whether or not I want to indulge in the thought.
Except around death. When I have thoughts about mortality (mine, loved ones’), they are typically all consuming. There is no separation between myself and the thought. I was thinking about this earlier (while stoned): My struggle in redirecting away from these types of thoughts once the first thought occurs shows me how fearful I am of death.
I acknowledge that I am actually scared shitless.
I have never accepted death in the ways it’s presented itself in my life-that’s become really clear to me as I’ve been navigating this new life. I have all of these intense (and unresolved) fears around my own death and I wonder if my aunt Carol and my grandma and Janet and people who have gone before me felt these fears too, at one point or another. I wonder if these fears are a natural part of aging and if cancer has just taken me from 27 to 77 in a matter of months (physically, mentally, emotionally). I wonder how much of my experience is universal among those of us with illness and how much of it is unique to me. Just things I find myself pondering…
This entry may seem somewhat of a downer, especially considering that I just received pretty great results from my scans-bone scan was clean, abdomen and pelvic ct both clean, (drumroll please) chest ct greatly improved (no more lymph nodes, just spots of a couple millimeters or smaller left here, folks)- but I also have noticed that my mind does not trust happiness, or calmness, or peacefulness, probably due to the conditioning I’ve had in the last year of repeated crisis and trauma. When I experience a victory, I armor myself with negative thoughts because it functions as protection from disappointment and further hurt. The higher you climb, the farther (further? I don’t know, chemo destroyed my brain) you fall, or something like that. Except that in this scenario, I’m missing out on moments of inner peace that I could be experiencing, so in that way, I’m letting the cancer run the show. To which I say: fuck that.
So tonight I’m getting good and high and laughing my ass off (possibly at myself and my own mental Tom-foolery, because I seem to consistently believe I’m hilarious when I’m high). Because I’m alive and all things considered, I’m doin pretty well. I’ve got a little less energy (and hair) than I’d like to have, but I otherwise feel generally well.
My goal is to have more moments of peace and calm every day. My goal is to sit with the discomfort I have around death a little longer every day. My goal is to make peace with death: not my death or anyone else’s, just the concept itself. Sit with the concept of permenance. Of what it means to be alive. Of what it means to be human. Of what it means to live.
I hope ya’ll are tokin’ up with me….🌿