A New and Ordinary Life

 

How often have you heard people say that when their life was threatened and they survived, they had a whole new lease on life? I’ve heard it a lot.

But that attitude hasn’t been true for me.

Before cancer, I had a wonderful and rewarding, although low-key life. After cancer, I have a wonderful and rewarding, although a still low-key life. I have had a couple of insights about life, but nothing that changed my entire perspective. My foundational beliefs, my commitment to solitary time and relationships, my love for learning, are pretty much the same.

Or so I thought.

Recently, however, I noticed this strange shift that marks the majority of my day. A number of things I’ve enjoyed doing or experiencing seem sweeter, and fill me with a new kind of pleasure.

When I go for my morning walk, I look for a little brown rabbit who eats away at the grass, hardly noticing my presence. He looks up from his munching, as if to say, oh yeah, it’s you again. And continues to munch. He’s become part of the landscape, part of my landscape, of the sun now peeking through the morning clouds, rather than my walking mostly in the dark. I look for Gunner, a big German shepherd who is such a sweetheart, and Zoey, a British mastiff who is huge and sweet and loves to have her head scratched.

And when I return home, I have a long swig of ice water. It has to have at least two ice cubes and the cold water is sooo refreshing. Then breakfast has other delights—my favorite Kashi cereal with a small amount of cooked Cream of Wheat and raisins with almond milk, heated in the microwave, topped with sliced honeycrisp apples. It is so delicious; I savor every mouthful, making it last as long as I can. My coffee is brewed into a metal thermal carafe, so that every sip I pour is hot and yummy; no sugar for me. Then I can enjoy my morning, catching up with friends on Ricochet, watching how the “wind” is blowing, exchanging thoughts, encouraging writers, laughing together. (I swear that Ricochetti have fine-tuned my funny bone!) There is meditation, researching new ideas, and study.

Yes, the day has other delights—sometimes a turkey sandwich with crispy lettuce at lunch—I like the lettuce mainly because it crunches. No mayonnaise, thank you very much, just mustard. And a dill pickle on the side. And fresh blueberries with a small dollop of cottage cheese; each berry seems to have its own special flavor. Then there are our rituals for planning for dinner and cleaning up; Jerry doesn’t trust me around our beautiful wine glasses, so he tries to grab them first before we clean up. I let him, since I know it’s another way that he looks out for me, for us.

I know this is a mish-mash of reflections, but my day has become a colorful and delightful tapestry of tastes, landscapes, and sounds. Life is not earth-shattering; it is rich. The hours don’t drift by; they punctuate moments with satisfaction and comfort.

How lucky can a person be.

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There are 24 comments.

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  1. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Susan, I think you’ve found the secret to a good life.  It all comes down to this:  Live in the moment.  Keep your mind open to life’s possibilities.  Savor each experience, even those that, to others, might seem unpleasant. 

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan, I think you’ve found the secret to a good life. It all comes down to this: Live in the moment. Keep your mind open to life’s possibilities. Savor each experience, even those that, to others, might seem unpleasant.

    So you’ve learned that secret, too! Thanks, Kent. What’s amazing is that although I drift away into mindlessness now and then, overall life is effortless–whatever shows up. Even the harder stuff is do-able.

    • #2
  3. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    but my day has become a colorful and delightful tapestry of tastes, landscapes and sounds. Life is not earth-shattering; it is rich. The hours don’t drift by; they punctuate moments with satisfaction and comfort.

    Yes, Susan, this! I am living with Stage IV cancer; there is no medical hope for a cure but I am on a medication that is currently keeping the  cancer from progressing–except for profound fatigue I live fairly normally. The sky is bluer! Even casual conversations bring greater joy; observing kindness and courage in others brings me incredible joy–and hope. Your journey has been very encouraging and meaningful to me. I have no words to express how much. 

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    but my day has become a colorful and delightful tapestry of tastes, landscapes and sounds. Life is not earth-shattering; it is rich. The hours don’t drift by; they punctuate moments with satisfaction and comfort.

    Yes, Susan, this! I am living with Stage IV cancer; there is no medical hope for a cure but I am on a medication that is currently keeping the cancer from progressing–except for profound fatigue I live fairly normally. The sky is bluer! Even casual conversations bring greater joy; observing kindness and courage in others brings me incredible joy–and hope. Your journey has been very encouraging and meaningful to me. I have no words to express how much.

    Jake, I had no idea of your situation. I can’t imagine being in your shoes; my journey is so much easier. But if I can provide even a single moment of joy for you, I am deeply grateful. And I can identify with your experience. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    What’s interesting is that I didn’t mention G-d anywhere in my post. His Presence permeates everything. I am humbled by, and grateful, for that.

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Praying for you too, Jake.

    • #6
  7. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    Percival (View Comment):

    Praying for you too, Jake.

    Many thanks, Percival! My wife and I feel very strongly that it is the grace of God that has carried us through in combination with great medical care.

    • #7
  8. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWDyA4S-geg

    You made me think of this song @susanquinn

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JoelB (View Comment):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWDyA4S-geg

    You made me think of this song @ susanquinn

    That’s lovely, Joel. Thank you.

    • #9
  10. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Thank you Susan for making my day with your reflections.

    Praying for you and for Jake.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Clavius (View Comment):

    Thank you Susan for making my day with your reflections.

    Praying for you and for Jake.

    Oh, Clavius. You too have made my day! Thanks!

    • #11
  12. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    I think I posted this quote elsewhere, but your post brought it to mind again:

    Happiness is the art of making a bouquet of those flowers within reach.  

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):

    I think I posted this quote elsewhere, but your post brought it to mind again:

    Happiness is the art of making a bouquet of those flowers within reach.

    Oh my gosh, GC, that is lovely. Perfect! And it’s so easy to miss those flowers when they are right in front of us. Thank you.

    • #13
  14. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    What a joy to read this!  The small, seemingly insignificant moments of a day do take on wonder if you just stop to appreciate them. Unfortunately it takes age and perhaps passing a crises to realize. Thank you for sharing this Susan, especially in your special and creative way. God bless. 

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

     

    Manny (View Comment):

    What a joy to read this! The small, seemingly insignificant moments of a day do take on wonder if you just stop to appreciate them. Unfortunately it takes age and perhaps passing a crises to realize. Thank you for sharing this Susan, especially in your special and creative way. God bless.

    And thank you, Manny for your kind, sweet feedback.

    • #15
  16. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    WiesbadenJake (View Comment):

    but my day has become a colorful and delightful tapestry of tastes, landscapes and sounds. Life is not earth-shattering; it is rich. The hours don’t drift by; they punctuate moments with satisfaction and comfort.

    Yes, Susan, this! I am living with Stage IV cancer; there is no medical hope for a cure but I am on a medication that is currently keeping the cancer from progressing–except for profound fatigue I live fairly normally. The sky is bluer! Even casual conversations bring greater joy; observing kindness and courage in others brings me incredible joy–and hope. Your journey has been very encouraging and meaningful to me. I have no words to express how much.

    Oh goodness. May you have strength to see it through and a miracle to surprise us all. May the Lord be with you. 

    • #16
  17. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Percival (View Comment):

    Praying for you too, Jake.

    Ditto.

    • #17
  18. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Modern medicine has given you time, and time is precious.  While in the fight, the fight is brutal.  It saps your energy, interrupts your sleep, dulls your mind and steals away pleasure.  Name a symptom of misery, and it provides it.  Just keeping up with the relentless schedule, the tests, the appointments, the surgeries, the drug regimens, the overwhelming collection of available data (the studies, the surveys, the research available on the internet) is impossible.  Overwhelmed is a massive understatement.  Then, if you are lucky, the intervention is over.  Recovery is not immediate nor guaranteed and you are wary.  You wait for the flurry of roundhouses, but they don’t come.  In time you to realize that you have survived.  Your life restarts all by itself.  You’ve been released from a horrible foreign prison run by a collection of smiling sadists.  It takes a while to get your bearings, but when you do, fingers crossed behind your back, you can enjoy life again.  Things you never noticed before, took for granted, are moving and beautiful.  Time is now a gift that you simply have to enjoy.

    The above is true even if the prognosis is horrible as even those who are declared clear know that this can change in a moment and the fight, always more difficult if repeated, is on again.  

    Susan, I’m glad you are finding moments of joy.  To Jake, I hope you find contentment and joy in your time remaining.  To both of you, leave no happiness undiscovered.

     

    • #18
  19. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    What’s interesting is that I didn’t mention G-d anywhere in my post. His Presence permeates everything. I am humbled by, and grateful, for that.

    A little Zen saying I recall:

    “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

    “After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

    Being in the present moment is very empowering.

    • #19
  20. Clavius Thatcher
    Clavius
    @Clavius

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    Susan, I’m glad you are finding moments of joy.  To Jake, I hope you find contentment and joy in your time remaining.  To both of you, leave no happiness undiscovered.

    Amen.

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    Susan, I’m glad you are finding moments of joy.  To Jake, I hope you find contentment and joy in your time remaining.  To both of you, leave no happiness undiscovered.

    Yes, Doug life has been all of that for me. And more. And I look forward to moments of joy. Thanks.

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Fritz (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    What’s interesting is that I didn’t mention G-d anywhere in my post. His Presence permeates everything. I am humbled by, and grateful, for that.

    A little Zen saying I recall:

    “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

    “After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

    Being in the present moment is very empowering.

    Fritz, did you know I practiced Zen for 20 years before returning to Judaism? The saying is one that is so true. Thank you.

    • #22
  23. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Very beautiful.

    I am reminded that ritual and process allows our brain to focus on the new and important stuff. We find solace in routine; it settles us down, and allows us to think of new things, creative things.

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    iWe (View Comment):

    Very beautiful.

    I am reminded that ritual and process allows our brain to focus on the new and important stuff. We find solace in routine; it settles us down, and allows us to think of new things, creative things.

    I hadn’t thought of that role for routine. And it’s so true. Thanks, @iwe.

    • #24
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