These muggy days I’m noticing tons of colorful ads for cocktails – all kinds of exotic mixes, special prices, choose the one that’s just right for you.
Why this pitch now? A distraction from all the tough stuff going on around us? An easy palliative to give us an instant feel-good? A simple invitation to take a break? … Don’t know.
What it’s done for me is invite me to look at my own emotional cocktail mix. For some reason, all this past year when I was dealing with the cancer diagnosis and treatment, I cruised along quite well – buoyed by prayer and support from so many of you, by great hospital care, by unflagging family love.
Now – one year and one month after the diagnosis and several weeks after hearing that I’m pronounced “cancer free” – I seem to be experiencing delayed emotions – anger, depression, listlessness. Why can’t I kick the neuropathy in my legs and feet? Why am I still feeling so tired and unambitious? Yes, this cocktail mix is very present. What do with it…?
This morning when I walked over to my physical therapy I passed the corner where a 34-year-old man was shot and killed three days ago. A T-shirt with his photo and lots of candles marks the spot. As I continued walking, I thought about all the senseless killings in the US and in the world, about the millions of people who have no safe place to live, not enough food to feed their families, the crazy wildfires and floods ravaging our planet.
When I got to my appointment I was hot, sweaty, and perturbed. When I had to wait 15 minutes for my PT guy to show up I noticed that I was irritated. Then I saw a man walking out of the door I was about to enter. He was missing his left leg below his thigh.
Well, nothing like a wake-up jolt. So here I am, able to walk ½ hour to my appointment, will go back to an air-conditioned home and a decent lunch, family that cares for me. How deal with this cocktail of feelings?
Best I can think of right now are some words from my wise teacher Thich Nhat Hanh:
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.
Conscious breathing is my anchor.
From Stepping into Freedom
Got it. A reminder to make time to step back from my personal concerns – they may seem petty but/and they are real – and to take in the bigger picture. Practice what I preach. Even on days when I don’t feel like it.
This e-note is a bit different from the ones I usually write. I hope it may be helpful to you. Feel free to let me know your reactions.
I’ll close with more words from Thich Nhat Hanh:
The best way to take care of the future
is to take care of the present moment.
From Living Buddha, Living Christ
Time to finish this, send it out, and go downstairs to prep lunch..
Big love from me here,