Friday, February 18, 2011

The Bucket List

The world is not with us enough
O taste and see the
subway Bible poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives to the imagination’s tongue,
grief, mercy, language, tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite, savor, chew, swallow, transform
into our flesh our deaths, 
crossing the street, plum, quince,
living in the orchard and being
hungry, and plucking the fruit.

Denise Levertov "O Taste and See" **
 I've been dealing for about three months now with the issue of whether or not I had cancer.  Two weeks ago I had a process (I believe it's called a cat scan) right out of sci-fi whereby they shoot you full of some dreadful radioactive stuff, and then put you in a long tube where you get color coded by some kind of process I frankly don't understand. I take it purple is an especially bad sign.

Needless to say, I've been doing some evaluation these days.  Yesterday the day finally came when I was to get the news, so I dressed in my favorite royal purple outfit, put on my ruby necklace, and sat in front of the doctor's office thinking things over.  I was terrified, in spite of all my "mature realism".  I found myself praying to Tara, Creator, and, because it was handy, a large cactus right in front of me that I figured did very well as a representative of Gaia.  Here's more or less what I said (not out loud):  

"I know you've heard a lot of people bargain, and it's probably ridiculous, but it's worth a try.  So here's the deal:  if you'll just please let me not be ill, I promise I'll go back to work.  I'll return to the work I was doing for the Goddess, and I'll finish my book.  Further,  I'll offer whatever gifts and abilities I may have to help or inspire others, and I'll leave it up to You to determine just who or where I may land with that.  And I promise to get myself out of the way toward that end (as much as an ordinary  human being with the usual neuroses, etc., can.*)"

(*I think it's always good to have a frailty clause, otherwise you set yourself up for perfectionism, which is a recipe for failure. Self-forgiveness is written into the contract.)

Then I sat in an examination room. The only magazine to read,  Time Magazine, seemed rather ironic, and the stuff within it (if I was to soon begin the process of leaving the world) seemed stupid and abstract. Is most of this stuff really what we spend all our energy on in the brief little bit of time we so generously get to be here? Good grief, just look at it.   I tried to imagine how doctors must feel having to give bad news to people - no wonder they get so detached and cold.  What else can they do, I suppose? 
Since (most) medical clinics aren't famous for their psychological and spiritual sensitivities, I sat there for about 45 minutes, sweating.  I thought about one of my favorite movies, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman's "The Bucket List".   What was mine?  ..........Lose 30 pounds.  Go see the Callanish Stones and the Hebrides.  Get a Spider Woman tattoo.  Volunteer in an orphanage.  Go back to Bali.  Go back to Yosemite.  Eat a fabulous chocolate cake with my hands and wash it down with champagne.  Look up Kerry Macneil (no, cross off that.  He'd probably be bald and ill tempered)....and so on.

So.  The doctor came in, that long hour ended.  After I left I immediately drove to the Safeway, bought a huge piece of gooey chocolate cake and ate the entire thing (with my hands on a picnic bench).  Messy, fabulous.  A kid with chocolate all over their hands and face is cute.  I'm sure the sight of a 60ish woman like that  is outright scary - which made  me laugh.  Who cares!  I later went to the movies, and capped off the evening with a bottle of champagne.

Now, since I promised ....... back to work.   I declare myself un-retired.  I don't have cancer.  But I'm glad I made my bucket list.  I think everyone should make a bucket list.......and do it before they have to sit in a sterile examination room like I just did.   The Callenish stones are next.

Life is good, my friends.

**"The poem begins with an ironic reversal of Wordsworth’s lines: "The world is too much with us late and soon." The problem as Levertov sees it is that "The world is / not with us enough. / O taste and see." The poem calls sleepers to awaken to life."   


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...


d page said...

What a relief!
Those days and hours waiting are difficult.
The way you wrote this resonated with me. You managed to create the tension you were feeling.

kd said...

Glad your results were positive and yes, I have long believed in the "things to do before i die" way to live. Curious piece of spiders weaving aka synchronicity or coincidence: I too, though I ahve only "met" you through blogging and a sense of shared awareness, have been going through cancer tests. masses of them. On 13 January went through what sounds like the same nuclear scanning process blogged about here:

In two weeks I go for surgery. No chocolate cake on the bench for me, but yes, a renewed sense of being here now with all the beauty and joy of the gift of living fully in the present. I made no conscious pact but have been given the amazing gift of lightness and detachment through this long year of entanglement with the modern US medical profession.

I did laugh at your Time mag comments - I always take knitting with me to my medical appointments because I have learned that they have one sitting a long time in waiting rooms. Two beautiful pairs of socks, a cabled hat and two and a half scarves later the process continues.

Thank you for sharing so openly Lauren.

Lauren Raine said...

Thanks to you for your congratulations - they are most gladly accepted!

KD - I will read your blog post next. I am so sorry to hear this, and am inspired by your words. I cannot help but think that your knitting is very magical, like the Spider Woman, you are weaving time and energy even as you sit in those grim rooms. Time, energy, and garments of warmth, comfort, and beauty. Thank you.

Natalie said...

Great stuff. :)

Martine said...

so good to read you'r happy and healthy...........

Gail said...

It seems you have a lot to look forward to. Keep us informed of your progress!