As I push through to my upcoming third blast of chemotherapy, three things aligned for me recently: the card, featured above (my daughter Libby chose at a gift shop), the video below from Conan O’Brien’s show featuring comedian Louis C.K. in a terrific rant against cellphones, musings on sadness, nihilism, just “being” and life in general:
and a recent experience in first-time ever yoga classes.
As a child, when we took road trips, either to upstate New York to visit grandma or to Kentucky or Maryland to visit aunts, uncles and cousins, my sister and I would sprawl out in the back seat of our massive brown Chrysler Newport and just lie down, staring up out through the large windows at the power lines as we sailed along in our massive boat. We were left to read, nap, play auto bingo, color in coloring books or just simply to daydream (I would later recall long hours sitting in the back of this same car as we waited for what seemed like an eternity for gas during the gas crisis). I am sure we had a fight or two, especially if either of us crossed that imaginary border between the seats. Our visual entertainment was whatever was outside the window. Music was limited to scratchy FM radio.
The beauty of it all was that there were no LCD TV’s in the car, no iPads, gameboys, smartphones, or even iPods. The windows were our “screen.” Our imaginations the CPU. Today, shutting this out, down or off is a challenge for us all. Even pumping gas one is now assaulted by the cacophony and visual headache of twenty-four hour marketing. Screens on the gas pumps? At the checkout counter in grocery stores? Please BE QUIET!
Everything is just so damned loud. I am sure having multiple craniotomies and now chemotherapy, resulting in the infamous affliction of “chemo-brain” (a double whammy since the chemo itself is for my brain) has only enhanced my sensitivity to this unpleasant aural riot.
I recently attended two yoga classes different in methodology and resulting in two entirely different reactions. I knew little beyond the fact that there are many different practices and that many friends do Bikram Yoga, also known as hot yoga.
The first one, led by an experienced instructor who was very kind and patient, was a bit of a crushing blow. Many things conspired against me. My usual course of daily headaches were already starting before heading in, my two torn rotator cuffs did not take well to some of the more physically intense poses and I was intimidated by the regulars with their yoga appropriate yoga mats/pants/tops etc. I bailed. This dude’s body would not abide.
The second session, at a different location with a different guide, was a blessed event. A young woman had just started her practice nearby after having moved up here from Georgia with her husband and I had seen her poster on a community bulletin board. Set in a lush field, the yoga was held inside the very spiritually soothing space of a yurt. Wood, canvas, a skylight and candles. She helped me breathe. Deep breaths. After the session, I had never felt better. I felt alive, enriched, awake and calm.
The alignment of Hafiz rumination, Louis C.K. and Yoga created a welcome triad of moments in time that only help me put one foot in front of the other, thank the sunrise and focus on the gifts life offers when one has been given a diagnosis such as brain cancer. A pilgrimage to be taken within the mind, body and soul.