Sunday, January 22, 2012

Squeeze the Day

Everyone who has been through or is living with cancer or other chronic illness or injury has a story to tell. My story is not special. It's just mine and, therefore, mine to tell.

Illness taught me many valuable lessons, most of which I hope are continually revealed in my teaching, writing and how I live, but some of which can be shared here in simple terms.

* Suffering changes us. We can't get around that. It either makes us bitter, or it makes us better. We get to choose.

* No one knows how long he or she has to live. Make every moment count. Squeeze the day. As the bumper stickers day, "Don't postpone joy!" (but don't let it lead you into credit-card debt either); as Warren Zevon said, "Enjoy every sandwich." Even if the moment is painful, embrace it.

* Life is a precious gift. There were certainly moments during my illness that didn't seem like moments to celebrate - the night I shat myself, the crushing loneliness of the New Year's Eve just after my diagnosis, the fatigue, the instant loss of fertility, the irrevocable and sudden loss of youth.  But even those moments were gifts: They created the woman I am today, softened me and opened me to love.

* None of us is singled out for special suffering. All who live suffer.

* None of us is singled out for joy. All people rejoice.

* We are part of ... everything. Separateness is the biggest and most destructive illusion.

The only distinction that I give my cancer experience is that Yoga relieved much of my suffering, and I know that even in that respect I am not unique. Others have used Yoga to mitigate their suffering. I am grateful for that as well.

Regardless of my lack of uniqueness, I am compelled to tell my story of cancer and Yoga. The beauty of a blog is that it allows an immediate response. Cyber-space is as varied and infinite as our stories. I hope that you will comment on mine and respond with yours.