Canoe trips harden you

Paddling a canoe on a physical river is a strenuous exercise. While it can be tiring and even exhausting when the current is strong it is also an activity that can harden the body. By exercising and using one’s muscles the body is (or at least can be) strengthened. The body needs physical activity, physical exercise. Keep it as hard as possible.

In another sense and using a canoe trip as an analogy for a cancer journey (cancer should always be spelt with a small c), cancer can ‘harden’ one also. I did a post once where I mentionned my Taichi teacher telling me to think of what I would learn from the trip. That was back at the very begining. Now I am not really one for looking at such experiences as learning opportunities. I’d rather stay stupid than endure such a harrowing experience. But I do remember thinking (not expressing) and getting a sense that going on this canoe trip was going to harden me. Maybe I needed to be hardened. Regardless on reflection this river journey has hardened me.

Emotions still come flooding out randomly. Emotions are probably even more intensly felt. But it has become possible to face things and not be afraid. If something needs to be changed then change it. Let the fucking light in.

‘There is a crack, A crack in everything, That’s how the Light gets in’ – Leonard Cohen

Careful though, the change can be painful or not as easy as expected. And be prepared for the change exposing more change required. If you think the change will be beneficial don’t let others’ resistance stop it.

Yes – this canoeing is hardening me, making me more determined. And to my taichi teacher if nothing else the canoe trip is teaching me to NOT give a shit for trivial things, Concentrate on what’s important. Life is too short by far!!

Posted by thomas monks at 14:39

The (sometimes) darker side of canoeing

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This river, ‘this canoe trip’ is mysterious. You never know what is going to happen. I have been on this river journey for almost four years now. Strangely that is the third time I’ve corrected four tears typo to four years. Tears might be a better meaning but four would be a serious under estimation. You’d think I would know the twists and turns by now or at least not get taken by surprise. I have said it before, ‘Be prepared but don’t anticipate’. How much easier it is to preach than to practice.

A few months ago they scanned me while I was being infused with chemo. During the following few days on the usual white fisted ride down the ‘rapids’ I forget all about the scan until I got a surprise call to tell me it was clear. Now ‘clear’ to someone with metastatic cancer is about as good a piece of news as one could get.

Very recently they (they being the Radiology guys not the unknown conspiratorial ‘they’) scanned again. This time while on a quiet section of the river. Strangely (or maybe not so strange) this time I’m not forgetting about it. It is nearly always in my mind and probably will be until I get the results. There is a widely used term to describe it – ‘Scanxiety’. It can be a tough station …. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting out the months between scans, waiting out the days between scan and results. Always waiting …

That is the dark side of cancer. It has an incessant presence once you get caught up and involved in it. It catches you out all the time. I thought I was getting to be a pro at this canoeing stuff at this stage. I thought I had the techniques and practices all sorted. But this shite just keeps gnawing away (probably not a great term) psychologically. The dark side …. that is an exageration … Lets just say one of the darker sides. I am sure there are lots of shades of dark. Through the greys and unto black.

Anyway, back to the meditation, back to exercising, back to communion with Nature and back to trying to be kind to myself. It is a discipline and continuous work. Takes incessant to stand up to incessant. There are some in much worse situations.

I’m happy to get to post. I don’t write often enough by far. That was good. Now a dear friend mentionned recently about just taking a break and smelling the roses. Very good advice. Wonder where I can find some roses.