Two slices of raisin bread, toasted, with some fruit on the side. Honeydew melon these days, it changes with the seasons. As I buttered my toast this morning, it came to me that all during chemotherapy I made my own raisin bread. Now I buy it at the store – Dave’s Killer Raisin Bread. It also occurred to me that there was a time, pre-cancer, when I would have expended a good deal of energy chastising myself for turning to store-bought bread in lieu of baking my own. Now, I just notice. I notice the change in my routine like I notice the change in the clouds, as a patient observer. There is no judgement, no discontent, no self-punishment. I have meditation to thank for that.
I have a cold. I’ve tried to wrap my head around some sort of meaning behind it, but there doesn’t seem to be any. It’s just a cold. Quite different from the last cold I had. It was a little over a year ago, Thanksgiving 2016 to be exact. I remember it clearly because I was in the middle of my first phase of chemo, the part that kills off your white blood cells along with everything else, and I had caught a cold. It frightened me, because in my mind the common cold I had could kill me. That is the cancer horror story I had managed to find and read, where someone finishes their chemo, is cancer free and is taken down by a cold. Drat. It was the only word that came to mind. Drat.
This cold is quite different. I have a fully functioning immune system and death is not at the table. It’s just a cold, or maybe a mild flu, and I’m just observing. The aches and pains that come with a cold, the runny nose and stuffy head. If all else fails, a fever will set in and cook the germs where they hide. It’s fascinating really, the body’s elegant response to drive off invaders. I don’t interfere; I just let my body do its thing. No Tylenol or Nyquil or Vicks VapoRub or heating pads, just my good old-fashioned immune system, Vitamin C Bio Fizz and chicken. I eat what I crave and it seems this cold calls for chicken. How do I know? I listen to my body. Meditation will do that for you.
So what does it mean, to be an observer? To me, it means to take a step back and take in the whole picture, rather than be invested in the fray. I try to be in the moment, not of the moment. For example, being in traffic, or simply driving with other people on the road, is a challenge for many people. Other drivers go too fast or too slow, change lanes erratically, run yellow (and red) lights, and on and on and on. The bottom line – they exist. How dare they! I say, so what? If I’m in the slow lane doing my thing and someone hurtles by me one lane over, why should I care? Most likely it is not because of my deep concern for their welfare and that they might get a ticket. No, usually it is because they have violated some imaginary rule I created and so I experience a feeling of being personally wronged. Crazy, right? Really, there should be absolutely no reason why I react at all, why any of us do, yet we do. We can’t help ourselves. And so I meditate.
Driving the three hours to my mother’s house last Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised by my lack of interest in or reaction to the antics of other drivers. I just let them do their thing and I did mine. And oddly enough, without the gyrations of jockeying for position and lane changing and such, I arrived in two and a half hours instead of three.
I’m baffled by that part. I didn’t go any faster than normal; I just drove in the slow lane and minded my own business. Maybe it’s some sort of cosmic reward, positive reinforcement for good behavior. It does make some sense, because when I used to worry about being late for things, I usually was. Now, I give myself the appropriate amount of travel time and, traffic or not, I always make it on time, even when bumper-to-bumper traffic threatens to derail me. I just take a deep breath, let it all go and trust that it will all work out as it should, and it does.
Funny thing about that, if you trust that everything will work out as it should, it always will. I mean how else could anything possible work out, except as it is meant to? Meditation doesn’t hurt, either.