Who am I? And Does it Matter?

A week or so ago our backyard was in its fairy garden phase.


I’ve been musing about the many disparate truths I am holding, the seeming paradoxes of my life at the moment. I’m really sick. I actually feel good. The tumors will never go away. There are lots of stories of miraculous healing. There is so much we don’t understand about our bodies, cancer. . . . Ever since I was 18 and my brother introduced me to the Tao te Ching, I’ve turned to it in difficult times.


Verse #13 has been my rock, particularly the last few lines:


“Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?


See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.”


The Tao is full of seeming contradictions and they no longer perplex me. But real life does perplex me, a lot some days. I’m so tired of thinking about myself, my treatments, my many appointments, my symptoms–are they improving, changing? I re-read this magnificent text and have a moment’s peace.


And then I struggle again with not knowing what my future holds and looking inward again because so much of my outward life has changed. Where do I find meaning and joy and connection? Where can I be of service, contribute, be of use? I think humans are hard-wired to want to serve and find meaning in caring for or participating in something other than just ourselves. I’ve recently had the privilege of helping a friend start a new business. I managed a quick Tuesday Tip video last week. I make meals for my beloved son and husband. We have conversations about the world, that are not about cancer. These things are life-giving!


How do I find moments of meaning on the weeks where I can’t muster the strength for things like this? On days where everyone else seems to going about their day (and their own struggles, I know!) and the world is passing me by?


I don’t have an answer but this morning’s meditation from Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening includes this line: “This is the work of compassion: to embrace everything clearly without imposing who you are and without losing who you are”


Thanks for reading, dear ones!