This is, in a very small way, what I’ve just had to do over the last few months. Tinnitus, headaches on one side of the head and other unexplained symptoms had caused me to be referred for an MRI scan which found…. something.
As I started to get to grips with the possible implications it felt as if everything was falling apart.
Another more detailed MRI scan and a CT scan was ordered. Then there was the waiting. This was made all the worse because the referral letter from the first scan was mislaid so when I eventually received the appointment for the second scan it was now urgent.
And I had been given no information whatsoever as to what the possibilities were. All I had seen was that the surgeon I had been referred to was an expert in many different types of issue- a couple of them very scary indeed.
Suddenly I was imagining all sorts of terrible scenarios- receiving a terminal diagnosis from the surgeon with varying amounts of time to live, surgery, chemo etc.
In my mind I was seeing scenes unfold similar to those I have been seeing in films over the last 40 or so years of my life. Melodramatic of course but now I was seeing myself centre stage.
And then there was the emotional turmoil. Remorse for all the wasted opportunities and poor choices I’ve made. Worrying about who to tell and what (and how much) to tell them. And the bizarre sense of distance that I started to feel separating me from people.
I’d love to be able to say that with all my years of self-work meant that I took it all in my stride, that I could see the higher purpose and was at peace with everything in the moment.
It’s true that using the tools of the Samaii Method I was often able to do something with it- process the emotion, rationalise the fears- even sometimes see clearly and create with it.
But some of the time I wasn’t. I’d wake up at 4am and in those early lonely hours I’d struggle to get back to sleep. I’d feel confused, isolated, alone and sometimes very down.
What I found of course in those moments where clarity arrived was that there is a gift in being brought so starkly to face what is important. And in those moments it all becomes quite simple.
The people that you care about
How much of yourself you bring to what you are doing
In a funny sort of way everything becomes smaller and focused into the here and now. Which after all is the only place where we are actually alive.
This meal, this mouthful.
This conversation, this comment.
The person here in front of me right now.
Yesterday the months of waiting came to a sort of end. I have a diagnosis. It’s not going to kill me but it will need watching with regular yearly scans. Just to make sure.
And this is really what the gift is of this experience so far. It has made me reflect on just how lucky I am for so many reasons- the lovely people I know, the fascinating work that I am lucky enough to do and the incredible amount of opportunity I have each and every day.
It would have been nice to get a complete all-clear but even this is a kind of gift because it destroys the illusion that I sometimes fall prey to that things should be perfect.
As with the beautiful Japanese art of Kintsugi where broken pottery is repaired with lacquer dusted with precious metals it’s not about being perfect, it’s about making the most of what you’ve got.
And I realise I have a lot.