A few months back, I wrote about the challenges of following the spiritual path, which more often than not involves long stretches of not being able to see where you’re going or why, climbing and climbing an uphill route with no idea what you’ll find when you get to the top and can finally glimpse the next leg of your journey. Sometimes when you get to the top, you’re no more enlightened: you may find yourself standing at the top of the hill looking down at a fog-filled valley, unyielding and inscrutable.
The curve balls (lessons?) along the way can be jarring and disorienting, making it hard to keep one’s footing and stay on the path—especially the big ones, like divorce or the loss of a job, the ones that really turn your life on its ear and make you wonder, How the hell am I going to get through this, and what is my life going to look like when I do?
Being diagnosed with cancer is definitely one of the big ones, the biggest one I’ve encountered in my life to date. It pretty much knocked me senseless and left me in a heap, and it’s taken me several months just to begin to regain my footing and find my way back to the path, to go from feeling frightened and helpless to digging deep to find the inner strength and trust that have kept me going in other difficult times. I’ve finally returned to my morning ritual of coffee and reading spiritual books and journaling and meditating, and this has grounded me and helped me to return to a place of relative peace.
I have no idea how to do this cancer thing—anymore than I’ve known how to get through other life challenges when I’ve first been faced with them. The only thing I can do is take one step at a time and trust. So far, that trust has been rewarded with support, both spiritual and financial, from friends and loved ones, as well as incredible kindness and caring from my doctor and his medical staff. And there has been good news: a recent CT scan shows that the chemo has already knocked out approximately 50% of the cancer, so there is a ray of hope to light this path of uncertainty.
That being said, as huge as this is, in its essence, cancer is no different than any other challenge that I’ve faced. Just as with other things I’ve dealt with in the past (which include divorce, the sudden loss of jobs/income, and extended unemployment), this experience is something that I need to look in the eye, figure out how to absorb its impact, and just be with it and trust. Trust that the path (and the purpose) will be shown, as it always has been in the past—even when I’ve been woefully slow to see and read the road signs. As with those times, it’s going to be one step at a time, one day at a time. Hanging out in uncertainty and continuing to work on being comfortable with that. Not an easy path, but it’s the one I’m on, and I need to follow it out, even if I can’t yet see what’s around the bend.