Emotional Rapids – Part 2

I wrote a blog on emotional rapids almost two years. I really didn’t think it would would take so long to have a re-look at that aspect of the canoe trip. In  the previous blog the talk was about the sudden appearance of sadness and fear out of absolutely nowhere and the ‘raw-ness’ of these emotions. They are almost pure and are always powerful and somewhat overwhelming.

Going down a violently moving series of rapids (which is the only way I can describe my chemotherapy experiences to date) is bound to bring up emotions and this latest episode is probably just what should be expected. If I had to give any advice to fellow canoeists (and am addressing myself here also) or their close ones it would be  … Expect nothing, anticipate nothing but be prepared, Don’t get caught in it. If the emotions arise let them – They cannot be stopped, They must be acknowledged, They are valid and They will abate. They are transitory.

Anger at the whole trip, not the cancer, not the treatment but at the lonliness of it all. Have just today reached a slowly moving part of the river. I need the rest … there are more rapids up ahead. That’s the nature of the trip. Have heard news of the passing of a fellow canoeist and of another going into the river. I feel for them ……….. I wish them well

When the river gets rough

I usually try to stay calm, cool and collected when the river gets really rough. It is not always easy. Chemo on monday last – not too bad until this evening – Now have fallen into a rough rapid flow – Always happens – Sporadic episodes of irregular stomach spasms not unlike but not then very like hiccups. Have been there lots of times – after nearly every cycle – must be closing in on 20 cycles at this stage.

This stuff sucks the pleasure out of life – Horrible physically at the moment and then horrible psychologically for another few days.Then the inevitable intensive self care and recovery in time for next round

This is not me – this is a sheath – I am not cancer, cancer may be part of me but just a small part I need to get back to my essence – my calmer self

Horrific, Horible,Horrific …………….Horrible….Horrible

What choice do I have

‘I cant go on, I’ll go on” – Samuel Beckett

Losing fellow Canoers

When you are on fast parts of the canoe trip, when the current and flow are rapidly changing and intensifying, when the water is white and noisy, when you are in the zone and concentrating – At these times one is focussed on one’s task and doesnt see there are many more canoeists on the river. We canoeists only really notice each other on the quiet parts. At these times we can meet and recognise each others journeys, provide mutual support and encouragemnt, disclose tactical knowledge. It is a learned group. Experienced. Every individual on a canoe trip faces the fast parts alone and should enjoy the quiet parts in good company.

This is a dangerous river, there are always some who get lost, go down, drown. I have met and lost some very good and wise companions on my canoe trip to date.

Good Company just like the river is ever changing

Back in the canoe again

The ‘distant rumbling’ needs to be heeded always. I’ve said that before. Keep it in ‘half’consious. Be ‘Ready’ to move. Don’t get caught by surprise. Easy to say. The ‘rumbling’ continues and intensifies. I had to get back in the canoe and tighten things up. Current picked up slowly but steadily. Flowing fast for a while, easing now a bit. Another few of these ‘rapid’ coming up over the next while.

I never strayed too far away from the river ….

The rest, the meditaton, the philosophy, the reading, the poetry, the exercise, the travelling and even the boxsets – They are all part of the preparation and have earned their place in the kit bag. Tie it up. Going to be lonely for a while. Just keep it tight!

The next quiet stretch …………………………………………..

Distant Rumbling

Faint rumblings in the distance are par for the course when on a river journey. As long as they are faint there is no need for anxiety. The rumbling could merely be a sign that the current is picking up a bit. Become and stay alert but don’t panic. They do not necessarily mean that more Rapids are approaching. They should be taken for what they are, just signs but not proof. Maybe the water is flowing a bit faster up ahead. Maybe a tributary in feeding in. Maybe there are rocks in the river.  Maybe, maybe, maybe ……..

It is good to detect them, to be aware of them. It helps to be prepared for any eventuality and the course of a river is sure to be ever changing. That is the nature of a river and indeed the nature of life. 

Lost on the River

I haven’t done a posting here for a few months. I suppose I’m just enjoying a long calm stretch of the river and concentrating on regaining strength after a rough ride. I am still of course on the ‘river’ but at a much relaxed current. No treatment in over a year, nothing showing up on the radar. So time to get a bit of fitness back (there are lots of people to thank for help there, great encouragement from them) and of course ‘no nonsense’ walking with a four legged friend who has accompanied me almost the entire journey. We met very early on and he has been such a help to me and those closest to me. (Thanks Shiloh!!). It is also very nice to have time to learn and hone some navigation skills (again lots of skillful people helping me with that).

“I got lost on the river, but I got found
I got lost on the river, but I didn’t drown
I got lost on the river, but I didn’t go down
I got lost on the river but I got found”

Lost on the River #12 – Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello

As I said in a much earlier post, the canoe trip is very lonely but I think when the current does ease and there is time to look around there are people around willing and able to help.

Would I miss it?

That is a very interesting question. I have recently been told that I am in remission – for the present at least. So strictly speaking I am no longer in the canoe on the river. I didn’t expect to be told those words so am in really unfamiliar territory. I am quite happy to get out of the canoe for a short while but won’t wander too far away just yet. So no I don’t miss the upheavals of a typical canoe trip but am not willing to distance myself from it until I have more certainty. I have spent the last few months on other fruitful and may I say spiritual journeys. To New Zealand, Japan and Amsterdam and would really love to continue with such travels. So, no I don’t miss it at all but am ready to go back there if required.

Does blogging about the Canoe Trip have any effect on the trip itself?

Well, I have been thinking about that recently. Blogging is a method of communication and expression. Both are good. Both are useful. Certainly for myself I get an energy from managing to collect my thoughts and express them in what for me at least is a coherent  and creative manner. I have said in a previous posting that this Canoe Trip is a lonely journey so in a way I may be using this blog to talk with myself or to reach out.

But does any of these actually have any effect on the journey, whether positive or negative? I think it does have a positive effect. There is a certain discipline involved in the act of writing a blog. This discipline needs to be followed in order to collect, organise and then express ones thoughts. In other words it gives you an opportunity to reflect of what is going through your head, make sense or analyse these thoughts and then either to express them or let them go. So in that respect, yes I would say that this blog has a certain therapeutic value.


Emotional Rapids – Part 1

A canoe trip has many different aspects – the physical, the psychological and the emotional, among them. This particular posting tries to explore the emotional aspect as I have been experiencing it.
When paddling down a river a series of ‘rapids’ can suddenly appear, almost out of nowhere. In the same way on the canoe trip an equivalent series of emotional rapids have been occurring. They are usually fast and frightening and more often than not they occur in groups. For myself in recent weeks I have experienced a set of emotional rapids. The emotions seem to almost ‘rear up’ out of nowhere and are very strong. The ‘out of nowhere’ aspect is interesting. Among the emotions have been, an extreme sadness in one case and a strong sense of fear in another. I often wonder if the emotions have anything to do with my canoe trip. They are pure emotions, sadness without knowing what the cause of the sadness is and a  feeling of fear but unaware of exactly what to be afraid of.
Are these emotions caused by being on the canoe trip? Are they the reason why the canoe trip is happening at all? If so, do they need to be explored more fully? Probably yes.  Maybe one of the lessons required to be learned on this trip is an understanding of from where these emotions are arising, what is their source? Can the source be found at all?  
More to follow on this ……

Why use a canoe trip as an analogy for a cancer journey?

Well I am specifically thinking of a canoe trip on a river as opposed to a lake or the sea. The nature of a river lends itself well to the nature of a cancer journey.

It can be long or it can be short.

There are parts which will be fast flowing currents and other parts moving more slowly. On medical treatment there are easy days which go quickly and other days when one needs to be patient. On a chemotherapy cycle there are times when it feels like one is going over a waterfall or down a series of rapids eventually to find a quiet spot to rest up.

Whats around the next bend in the river? Another waterfall? An island to rest up on?

Anyway it has been a fairly long journey to this point but still a long way to go. Still a lot to learn