This week has not been easy and because of that, I have experienced moments of great joy. I experienced a few days of physical pain and exhaustion, which made me feel all the more incredibly lucky to be able to walk in the glorious woods and labyrinth of the Whidbey Institute on my way home after my four-hour commute for radiation each day. This week, a pedometer app I downloaded 8 months ago on my phone started spontaneously cheering. Huh? Turns out I have walked 500 K steps, or half a million, which apparently is more than 99% of those who downloaded the app. Considering I have a sedentary job, this affirms for me the value of footsteps for my overall wellbeing. Labyrinths are wonderful mind re-setters, as they allow you to turn your body one direction going in and unwind your body-mind going out.
All week, my commute by sea and road has been in dense fog. Today one of two radiation machines broke down and is unlikely to be fixed by Monday, so we shall see if my treatments will continue as planned. But I continue to be grateful for my waiting room camaraderie with folks facing cancer treatment, and my knitting which helps me find calm in "waiting" for anything.
I have met several folks who are planning once-in-a-lifetime vacations after their cancer treatment ends. I have decided when my treatment is over (after I take ancient car for repairs), I am going to celebrate by leaving early morning dark and taking myself on a day-long hiking trip to see as many waterfalls as possible in Olympic National Park, since I do not need to go far and spend much money to experience a most beautiful green space remaining on Earth.
I also experienced great appreciation reflecting on teachings of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) who passed this week at age 95. I love what he told the filmmaker of Walk With Me about his sangha and life. When he learned there was consideration of a temple being built in his honor in Vietnam:
“I said, don’t waste the land of the temple in order to build me a stupha. Do not put me in a small pot and put me in there. I don’t want to continue like that. It is better to put the ash outside to help the trees to grow. That is a meditation. I recommend that they make the inscription outside on the front:
‘I am not in here’
and then if people do not understand, you add a second sentence;
‘I am not out there either’
and if still they don’t understand on the third and the last;
‘I may be found maybe in your way of breathing or walking.'”
BREATHE is Thay's calligraphy on a sticker that sits on my car's dashboard. When my car had trouble starting, I did as it said and breathed, and the car started. I wish the same instruction for those who are eager to start another Neanderthal war humanity does not need. Breathing in our common humanity is the only way forward, or we stop breathing.
Staying close to the wealth of nature and making with my hands bring me greatest joy and comfort. You can find me on Instagram as @waterwomanknits, and on Ravelry as Waterwoman-Knits.