When I first became interested in eastern philosophy, I wasn't looking for 'big E' enlightenment. More than anything else, I guess, I was trying to score points with Ms W&E.
But what I found was the first philosophy of life I had encountered that seemed consistent with my own understanding of reality. I remember reading Wenzi with tears streaming down my face, realizing that at one time in the ancient past, millions of people saw the world the same way I see it now.
But I also realized that this was a philosophy that worked very well with the comfortable life I was leading at the time. I had quit working, except for a handful of freelance clients. I got up when I wanted to get up, and went to bed when I wanted to go to bed. I came and went as I pleased. My life of neither being nor not being was rather idyllic, and presented few significant challenges. Actually, it presented no significant challenges.
Then, suddenly, a challenge.
Now, after just four months of treatment, I find myself nostalgic for the days before I knew I had cancer.
I've mentioned this before, but my body is actually handling the chemotherapy quite well. My four tumors have shrunk slightly after four treatments.
My CEA has dropped to a measly 2.5, within the range for persons with no cancer.
My white cell and hemoglobin counts are within normal range; my red cell count is actually increasing. This means my immune system is still functioning properly, and I'm not in immediate danger of dying, as Robin Gibb apparently did, of an illness indirectly caused by cancer treatment.
But two things are wearing me down. One is constant fatigue. I've always been rather low-energy, but now I spend entire days in my recliner watching TV.
The other thing is nausea. This isn't nausea like you get from food poisoning or some other illness. I don't know how to describe it. I have this vague, very low-level nausea a lot of time, and it suddenly escalates to irreversible upchucking in a matter of 2-3 seconds. And yes, I take something for it, and it helps, but it's not 100% effective.
There are some foods I literally cannot think about without getting queasy. Pictures of burgers on TV commercials can trigger it. I dashed out of a restaurant and barfed on its front porch the other day. I barely got out the front door in time. I have no idea what set it off – maybe an odor of cooking food.
So, there's that, along with the fatigue.
I have a certain attachment, as it turns out, to not throwing up. Also to being able to take a shower or walk to the mailbox and back without having to lie down for 15 minutes. But in the present moment, that is not my life. It is not who I am. And the present moment is where I live. But my philosophy is now being put to the test.