I had initially planned for this week’s column to be about confidence.
I was going to write about some of the big changes that have recently happened in my life, like moving to a city, going back to university, ending a relationship, and starting again. I was going to talk about how far I’ve come from those fragile and vulnerable days of lymphoma diagnosis and chemo. And how I feel that things are finally falling into place and I’m moving past the stages of recovery into a new, confident, and content phase of my life. I had planned this in my head, slotted in among the million things I need to write, finish, and do. But then, life happened.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” —John Lennon
Oh, life. How ironic it is that while I’m planning to write about how stable I finally feel, my future is threatened all over again. I wrote a few weeks ago about my fear of relapse. I had been traveling around Spain and Italy, taking in the most incredible landscapes, devouring linguini in medieval Italian towns, and absorbing the surreal artwork of Michelangelo, when symptoms reappeared. I had fatigue, chest pain, and a swollen lymph node. The seemingly solid foundation of confidence and trust I had built for the future quickly began to dissipate. Fast forward to a few weeks later, and I’m still having tests done. Each doctor’s appointment has led to more tests and exams, and now finally a PET scan will decide my next chapter.
This sudden insecurity got me thinking a lot about how the very nature of life is insecure, despite this false belief we have that it’s all carefully laid out for us. We can go ahead and plan, imagine in our heads how it’s going to look. What we’ll wear on our wedding day and what our careers will look like in 10 years. Where our next vacation will be. We can spend all this time strategically planning and putting together a future, and then without warning, it can all dissolve. Just like that. That is the nature of life. That is why the mystics and the prophets have perpetuated this notion of present moment awareness. Be here, now. Be in this moment. Embrace the river of insecurity running through your veins. Because nothing is promised to you. Nothing is secure.
I say this not to create fear, but rather acceptance. There is comfort in the volatility. We can’t do anything about tomorrow. But we do have the capacity to carpe diem the hell out of today. This little scare has shaken me awake. Yes, it’s made me more hungry for life, more desperate to stick around, to not lose what I have. Mostly, it’s compelled me to be in the present. I feel achingly awake. Profoundly aware of how lucky I am to be here and to have my health, my two feet, a place to sleep, food in my belly. Suddenly I’m dancing down the street with music in my ears and a spring in my step. I’m drinking my coffee with more intensity and more awareness. I’m excited to get out of bed. I’m speaking up in class, raising my hand, putting myself out there.
This feeling is always there, within all of us, I suspect, but we get caught up. We get lost in the routine, tied up in the monotony and the thoughts in our head. We forget to see the simple pleasures in every day. A hot bath after getting caught in the rain, a satisfying meal, hugging a lover at night, butterflies in our stomach. Finishing a project, a bite of something delicious, our best friend’s laughter, making a new friend. Crunchy leaves, ripe fruit, art that makes us feel something, gray skies, and a soft, cozy scarf on a chilly day. A book that you just can’t put down, a song that makes you feel invincible, a smile from a stranger, exercise and its endorphins, jumping into a swimming pool, a good night’s sleep, the smell of the ocean, new shampoo, freshly baked anything, red wine, a Friday night.
There are a million things; tiny things that are satisfying, and gratifying, and beautiful — and they are there for us in every moment.
I don’t want to die, but I know one day I will. I don’t know when it will be; I can’t know. That’s the beauty. That’s the curse. We have to just live it. Live the insecurity. Live with the spontaneity. It’s intoxicating. It’s frightening. But, we have to be here now.
Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.