Yoga Borgo

November 8, 2016

"I Choose Life!"

Old Zen Saying:  “Before chemo-therapy, chop wood and carry water, after chemo-therapy, chop wood and carry water.”

Or,

“T’isn’t life that matters!  Tis the courage you bring to it.”

Fortitude by Hugh Walpole

This was a favorite quote of my teacher, Yogi Bhajan.  He quoted it often and he used it as a guiding principle in his life.  I am finding it very appropriate for myself in dealing with my cancer.  Especially knowing now that I have 2 tumors in my abdomen.  They are small and I am taking that as good news.  Getting a bit of attitude, I have to say, that no punk a - - tumor is going to get me down.  O.k, so it’s 2 of them so same message applies, no punk a - - tumors are going to get me down. 

With my newest diagnosis, I have to admit, I went a bit within…a time for some self-reflection and self-assessment.  And I have come to the simple conclusion it simply is what it is.  In the wisdom of Shakespeare,“There is nothing either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.”  It just is, what it is. 

Sometimes you may get the diagnosis that you want but sometimes you don’t and so it goes with cancer.  Just like the words from the Dire Straights Song,  “…sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”   We’re all going to have moments when we are the bug.  That’s where courage comes in.  You gotta get back up and deal with what life deals you.  Like the Sultan of Swoon, Frank Sintra sang in That’s Life:

I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing
Each time I find myself flat on my face
I pick myself up and get back in the race

That’s Life.

As we say in Kundalini Yoga, Keep Up!  So, I’m feeling a bit like the bug right now, flat on my face in the middle of the windshield.  I have a choice.  I can lay here, or, I can pick myself up and get back in the race. 

I choose to pick myself up!   And my commitment to myself (remember it is all about me) is to continually pick myself up.  I am here for the long haul…at least another 42 years…that would be 108 years on this beautiful blue planet. 

There’s no easy answer, but I’m living, even thriving, with cancer. 

Today I am laying here in what I call the “Cancer Club”, the Oncology Department at the Hospital.  I’ve found it is quite an exclusive club with a very high price of admission.  All of us here are not here by choice but by Dharma.  Some may call it Karma, but really it’s Dharma. 

It’s all a choice of how you choose to write or re-write your story.  The “Cancer Club” reminds me of Groucho Marx famously saying,  “I would never be a member of a club that would have me as a member”.   The Cancer Club is a bit like that.  None of us would particularly want to join but now that we are here, we are “full in”.  There is a camaraderie here and an open acceptance of each other that is quite beautiful.  The mantra that everyone seems to vibrate is,  “I choose life!”  It is powerful and it is visceral…humbling and inspiring.  Everyone is fighting, in their own way, to embrace and choose life.    I have to admit, as much as I don’t like coming to the hospital, (it exhausts me), that when I come, I am inspired by those around me…both my fellow patients and all the staff.   Collectively, we vibrate, “I choose life”.   I am profoundly grateful for that. 

So, as I lay here living, today is a 6 hour chemotherapy.  Each drop I receive from the many different I.V.’s I will have, I visualize as loving, life-giving caresses of vitality from the Universe.  We are softly killing cancer cells with love and when necessary with extreme prejudice.  And gratefully, I am thinking and vibrating, “I choose life!”.

I have to say it’s a bit of a party scene today.  There are 3 of us (myself, Maria Luisa, and Maria Pia) receiving chemo in this room plus at least 1 family member per person.  Only one family person is allowed but we try to push that limit to two.   So, at moments we are as many 8 or 9 and everyone is smiling and talking and some even laughing.  There is coffee and tea and snacks.  It could be a very somber environment, but somehow, it is not.  The vibe is always positive and ever hopeful.  We embrace the “Audacity of Hope”.  We become a family, a tribe… perhaps one that none of us would choose but considering the circumstances we are happy to be here and grateful for the opportunity of health and healing.  And we vibrate, each in our own way, “I choose life!”. 

Here is where “Dharma” (Truth or one’s righteous path) comes in.  It’s easy to go to Karma.  What caused this?  Why do I have this?  What did I do wrong?   How can I free myself of this terrible situation?   Or one can accept and embrace life no matter the circumstance.  With that attitude, we can elevate and discover what we can learn from this and what we can share and teach from it.   I can elevate myself and from my experience, I can help elevate others.  And again, I can hear our mantra, “I choose life” and I choose to teach life!   

I am reading a wonderful book right now called, “Cancer As A Turning Point”.  What a great attitude in the title alone!  Here is a great quote about Dharma from the preface of the book:

“It is important to remember that you are not responsible for becoming ill, and you are not responsible for your recovery.  What you are responsible for once you are ill is to do your best to get better.” 

Just do your best, that is all you can do.  There is no guarantee.  One can do everything and get “marvelous” results and one can do everything and still succumb.  That is Dharma.  We do our best and that is all we can do.  I have a friend who recently sent me a good motto that I am using for self-inspiration.  That is “Hope ‘n cope”.  As we say, Hope springs eternal.    

A long time ago, I came to the realization that my purpose in life is to help elevate all whom I meet.  In some way, whether directly or perhaps very indirectly, I hope to be a means of elevation.  Sometimes, I am successful at it, and sometimes I learn I have yet a lot to learn.  And hopefully in that learning, I get better at it.  Especially now, I find it encouraging. 

I have found that often when we come to these great discoveries and inspirations in life, the Universe can be a bit mischievous.  It may challenge us just to check our commitment to our path.  It’s kind of like the Universe asking, “Are you sure about that?”.  And getting a diagnosis of cancer is a bit like that.  “Still ready to elevate?” the Universe asks with a smile.   And in those early moments when I’m going through the shock and denial of the diagnosis and looking for a bit of sympathy, I hear the Universe asking, again with a smile, “You sure about that?”  And in that moment and continuing into now, I get the opportunity of going a little deeper, finding the courage, accepting the challenge and responding, “Yeah, I’m sure about that.”  And reflecting upon it, I have my new tribe, my Cancer Club, to thank.  We are all vibrating after all, “I choose life!”.    

Love, Light and Peace to you all,  

Sada Sat Singh