My semi-annual trips to Calgary are home-comings, reminding me of the life-changing circumstances that Calgary represents in my life. As I settle into an exceptionally comfortable aisle seat in row 13, I cannot help but reflect on the twists and turns of life.
As I view my life it is a bit like observing tangled skeins of wool of a variety of textures, lengths and colours. And my attention, now, is turned to the untangling – locating dropped stitches; noticing glaring mistakes and false starts. Yet I see the richness and colour of loving and meaningful relationships; adventures and achievements all ultimately woven together into beautiful patterns. Consequently, I get to see a unique and beautiful tapestry that is my own life, mistakes and all.
The grand puzzle as seen from my 8th decade is about noticing all the pieces and seeing where they fit. The gift, unseen in younger years, is that the slipped stitches, rocky shoals and faded parts are just as treasured as the perfect moments and the straight-through paths. Why? Without them, it would be a different life. In fact, as when putting together a jigsaw puzzle, the oddly shaped pieces and the ones that reveal no clues as they lie scattered around, are often the exact pieces we need to transform the scene into a gorgeous, discernible and ever changing tableau of a life.
And at these times I marvel in wonder at how it all came together. It may be that way for some of you too.
Illness, untimely death, terrible disappointments of all kinds shake us up and often make us re-evaluate our lives. My life’s work, working with those who have been affected by cancer, came to fruition in Calgary at Wellspring. My own cancer was diagnosed and treated in Calgary. I owe a debt of gratitude to so many people, and especially to those in Calgary, who provided medical and non-medical support along with a multitude of helping and caring hearts and hands that continues to this day.
Thus it is no surprise that I leave today in a reflective frame of mind. The city and the inhabitants of Calgary are among the most generous of anyplace I have lived. Not just with money but with time and generosity of spirit. Wholeheartedness characterizes Calgary in general and Wellspring in particular. I leave counting my blessings. In truth, I come and go from everyplace counting my blessings, yet, Calgary was a turning point.
Once again, on this trip I had the honour and the privilege to spend time with members of Wellspring. No one can spend time with people going through a difficult illness and not leave inspired by their courage, resilience, wisdom, humour and kindness. As Jon Kabat-Zinn states in his book: Letting Everything Become Your Teacher –
“Healing does not mean curing, although the two words are often used interchangeably. While it may not be possible for us to cure ourselves or to find someone else who can, it is always possible for us to heal ourselves. Healing implies the possibility for us to relate differently to illness, disability, even death, as we learn to see with eyes of wholeness. Healing is coming to terms with things as they are.”
It seems to me that whoever you are and wherever you are we all have nothing to lose by being anything other than our ordinary selves. Live your precious life. Sing while there’s voice left. Find joyful moments daily. No reason to hold back.
Note 1:) Rob Gaudet shot the banner, from St Marks, outside Vancouver. It overlooks Horseshoe Bay And Bowen Island. I took the 2nd photo in Canmore, near Banff, during an evening walk, last Wednesday evening.
Note 2:) As I was walking in Canmore I thought of my Japanese friends, who will be in Canmore in three months time. It will be the last night of their four day hike in the Rockies. I celebrate their dedication to purposeful living – demonstrating the principles of living an active and full life with illness and while ageing. I will join them in Canmore and for their presentation at Wellspring Calgary the next day.
Note 3:) I am not grateful for cancer but I am grateful that I am in Ottawa, immersed in the daily lives of my beloved Grandchildren. Yet, if not for the cancer I would not be here. The twists and turns of life are a complete mystery. Ultimately, my experience has taught me to go ahead and live fully with it all. It is a wondrous gift, this life of ours. See you next week. With thanks, Trudy