Buddists understand this concept of impermanence as a good thing … as in recognizing that nothing is forever and the sooner we can let go of our instinct to control and tame and cage all that we wish to freeze in time – the happier we will be.
Indeed, it is one sure thing that nothing lasts forever. And I won’t lie, it’s a difficult journey to accept that. But I have. Finally.
And the reason for the long, long, lapse in writing is that the nature of my journey in the past few months through chemo and radiation has taken me in and out of darkness. I discovered that unlike Joseph Conrad, I’m not a writer who can write into the heart of darkness. Nor am I a humorist like David Sadaris who can find the funny in blackest of humour.
So I was stuck, between fatigue and not knowing where to find my voice. And then the other night I had this remarkable dream that led me out of darkness and into today.
I was in a large art class. We were all painting with oil on big white canvasses. The teacher stopped the class and pointed to one canvas with magnificent colours, and invited another student to pour paint on an old t-shirt and place it on the canvas. I was quietly appalled. The painting was, in my eyes, perfect. But when the student placed the t-shirt soaked in paint on the canvas, I watched in awe as it transformed into an even more beautiful work of art. I watched this happen over and over again as we each took turns. Colours I didn’t know existed, appeared magically.
“You see,” the teacher said, “when you let go of what you think needs to be preserved, you open yourselves up to the gifts of impermanence.”
Here I sit, on the balcony of my 11th floor perch, watching seagulls soar by, smelling the purple and red petunias, and getting endless pleasure out of the emerald green colour of the potato leaf planted in my baskets, trying to find a gentle way of letting you know I am getting ready for my departure, whenever that may be.
Gad (my partner), Victoria (my daughter), Veronica (my sister) and I have all discussed my wishes, and through tears and laughter have found a way to acceptance. Because of my cancer, I am unable to eat whole foods. Instead I drink booster drinks and juices and sometimes I manage a little of Gad’s matzo ball soup. I never knew how important food was to our lives. The answer is – it’s extraordinary. So as you take that bite of arctic char, or that forkful of mac and cheese, or that sip of Sauvignon Blanc, try to taste every morsel. Buddhists call that mindfulness.
I am one of the lucky ones. My family is in good health and has huge support. I have learned once again who my dearest friends are in times of need. And I feel very loved. I have no plans to leave this earth right away (ha – as if plans would make a difference :)), but I wanted to share where I am today, and thank you for taking the time to read my stories.
I send an extra big thanks to Buddha.
For unsticking me from permanence.