The past has always had a very strong hold on me. It has haunted much of my more recent past and held my life hostage. Somewhere along the line I got stuck in its quick sand and it has taken me a long time to be able to loosen that hold and find a way to get out and live in the present.
It is all very well to say that we responsible for all our experiences and that we have made our own present, but I think that is a little too simplistic. For much of my life I have felt that there has been a large stone wall in front of me that I have just kept battering into; which I couldn't see round; which I couldn't climb or undermine. I no longer feel that way. The future is something that I am moving towards and the past is just that. The past.
Ultimately I think that is was cancer that gave me the courage to find a way of being released by what went before. When any of us gets a diagnosis of cancer at whatever Stage it might be, but certainly when you have a Stage IV diagnosis, that knowledge can either liberate us, or suck us down the plug hole of despair. This doesn't happen overnight and for a long time I was swirling around the edge of that plug hole.
Each of us has to deal with the grief of being considered to be incurable, but for me it is knowledge and knowledge is empowering, strengthening and enlightening. When you can move past the despair you can begin to feel empowered by the knowledge that someone is condemning you and putting you on the scrap head of 'nothing we can do for you, mate'. How dare they! Have always lived with the hope that I might find a way to navigate through life if I continued putting one foot in front of another day after day. Head down. Keep walking. Somewhere, although I didn't notice it at the time, I managed to plod on, one foot in front of the other and right round the side of that damned wall. I kept going long enough.
Having Stage IV cancer is a bit like that. It is head down every day and putting one foot in front of the other, but now I remember to look around me and not keep my eyes on the ground the whole time, and it is noticing and savouring every step along the way and making sure that today matters more than yesterday and tomorrow put together. I kept a diary every day for over 35 years, until May last year when I just stopped. Why bother? No one else needs to remember my life in that sort of detail. I don't need to remember my life in that sort of detail! I completely accept the fact that I am not important. I am content with that. I have never married, or had children or any of those other things that are supposed to make you leave your mark on this planet. I am content with that. I do not feel the need to leave a mark behind me, quite the opposite in fact. If I go on long enough I hope to leave behind me the warmth of my being, the scent of my soul like a warming and inspiring fragrance that can fill the memories of others with pleasure and joy. I want to be an eco-friendly memory rather that blends into the environment rather than a toxic stain which constantly reminds others that I was once here. I am content with that.