I’m guessing we have all experienced moments of true clarity. Something unexpected happens and then there it is—it’s undeniable—things you looked at every day, you now see differently.
This past week presented me with just that kind of clarity. I received a letter from the radiologist with the results from my recent mammogram. Every year I receive such a letter, and every year it says pretty much the same thing…all’s clear! And each year, I breathe a sigh of relief and think, “Great! I’m good to go ‘til next year!” and life goes on as planned.
Imagine my surprise when this year’s letter said something quite different. As I began to read, I could not help but slump in my chair as the letter informed me that I would need to come back to radiology for another ‘view’ of a ‘finding’ that was unclear.
I have had to undergo a few biopsies in the past, and thankfully they were all benign. Still, with a family history laden with breast cancer, I am always on high alert. The letter arrived on a Saturday, leaving me to think about it for another forty-eight hours before being able to call. And the truly maddening part is that once I could call and reach a human voice, I was told that it would be another thirty-six hours before I could get an appointment.
Most of us have been there in some way at some time or another. We wait and wonder, which is neither fun nor easy. Still, I was determined to use this as an opportunity and to not let myself slip into the abyss of fruitless rumination. I filled my schedule: went to the movies, visited with my family, saw clients, and read.
Then the day of the appointment finally arrived. The best way that I can describe it is that it felt like the entire day was moving in slow motion. I woke up with a hollow feeling in my belly. I didn’t want to ignore my feelings but I also didn’t want to be swallowed up by dark thoughts. I decided to set an intention for the day, to work at being fully present in the moment and to face my feelings directly.
What I experienced for the rest of the day was amazing to me. I treated myself to a longer shower and luxuriated in it. I took my dog for a walk and the air smelled clear even as the cold entered every pore of my exposed skin… and it felt great! I made a fresh-pressed, brilliantly red juice and savored every sweet drop. I spent time really talking with my grown son, who had kindly offered to drive me to my appointment and to keep me company.
Aside from the fact that I started shaking about an hour before my appointment, I felt surprisingly alright. In hindsight, I’m certain that the fear still lived in my body. Thankfully, the ‘finding’ turned out to be nothing more than folded-over tissue, and the doctor who brought me the results was so sweet that I actually hugged her! Such relief. I came out to the waiting room, saw my son, and we both smiled.
And at that moment, time resumed moving normally again.
It was as if the music went back on. I suddenly heard all the noise in the room. I am sure that a therapist could give a name to the sensations I experienced, but to me it was complete awareness. For the past few days, I had felt everything so much more intensely, my sensations more keen, sharp, and uncluttered.
The following day was my graduation from The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, where I have been a student for the last year. As I began my graduation day, I heard from many of my classmates. There was a lot of talk about all that we have been through over the last twelve months and the transformation that many of us have experienced. I know that I have grown, learned, and loved this year. However, over the past few days, something even more profound has happened within me. I now have a real knowledge of how to live life in the moment. I am ready to go out and do the work I want to do, with a greater awareness of the strength one can gain from embracing their vulnerability. Now, more then ever, I can’t wait to experience this year!