There is nothing like losing your health to make you stop and take a good look at yourself and the life you are living. Let’s face it. We take our health for granted, assuming that our bodies will continue to keep up with our fast paced lifestyles, our cravings, desires and all the stress we heap upon ourselves. Be honest! How often do you give it a single thought? You probably haven’t unless you’ve needed to. But once you lose your health, you realize that it is the foundation of your life. There is nothing more precious than our ability to live vibrantly and fully, to have the lungs to breath, the strength to stand, arms to hold and eyes to see. So often we don’t know what we miss until it is gone. And then, we look for the silver bullet, the magic pill that will put it all back together again. Rapido! So we don’t miss a beat. Except it’s impossible to go back. You can only ever go forward and there are two paths you can choose from. Losing your health is a wake up call. And it’s one that can change your life for the better, forever. It’s all a question of how you want to walk it.
I remember when I received that wake up call. It was a harsh one, as most of them are. It didn’t come to me softly with time. It was abrupt and booming. I had been through a very challenging year with layer upon layer of loss and difficulties that were all piling up, one on top of the other. I was suffocating underneath it all. Have you ever had a year like that? Or a space of time that felt surreal as if you are in free fall and it’s all you can do to get up in the morning and put one foot in front of the other? Now I consider myself pretty positive but that year wore me down with grief, sadness and loss. So much so, that I was numb and pinching my leg while I sat in the doctor’s office hearing that dreaded cancer word and a verdict thrown down that was too harsh to believe.
I don’t remember much of the days and weeks that followed. I had no energy, no focus and no desire to share this news with anyone. It’s a heavy weight to carry alone. But heavier still was the truth that I’d lost my will to live. As far as I could see, cancer was the icing on the cake. While I remained in that no-space, something truly incredible was happening. Forming in front of me were two distinct paths. I didn’t know it at the time but they were there and taking shape silently. And it was the path less traveled that beckoned and eventually brought me back to life.
The first path was full of fear. It overflowed with statistics, numbers and comparisons. It left me feeling like a deer in the headlights. I was reduced to a tiny, compressed little digit devoid of identity, lost in a storm of ‘shoulds’, ‘musts’ and ‘have to’. This path took pieces of my soul and chewed it up demanding that I stop questioning and just blindly succumb. ‘Give all your power away and you might survive’ was the overhead banner in flashing neon lights. Though it was scary, this path seemed the obvious choice. Big, bold and bright! It certainly was the popular one. Everyone else was doing it. Heck, most people probably never gave it a second thought. They seem to jump in with both feet, and sometimes so terrified, that they needed to keep their eyes squeezed shut… all the way down. And while it made total sense to head off on this shiny bricked road, there was something inside me that lingered on a second option, far off to the left, under the brambles, tucked away, nearly invisible.
This second path was a mystery. Even as I leaned into it, I could tell the visibility was next to zero. There was only ever enough light to show you the step ahead. Sometimes, you had to wait on one foot balanced awkwardly in the dark for what felt like eternity before the path re-emerged again. No, this path was not lined out with neon markers, flashy guides and automated dispensers. This path was overgrown, rough and magical. Full of surprises at every turn, it twisted me into contortions and broke me wide open. Did I feel fear here? Yes, of course. It brought me to a place of complete surrender again and again. And yet it was not a path of fear. Though I was often at a loss, I was never powerless. It did not require me to take on another person’s beliefs blindly and without question. I was not a processed number in someone’s file. This path was my own to make and it formed with every step I took, forcing me to confront my greatest fears and insecurities. I had to truly look, ask questions and be proactive. I had to make huge leaps of faith, mostly in myself and learn to listen to my intuition. Oh, this path pushed me through my suffering until I found peace, grace, acceptance and strength well up beneath me and propel me forward once again. And throughout it all, often without realizing it, the healing was taking place. Organically, I was led to what I needed in order to release, renew, recalibrate and re-emerge as a new person. With each step, it was me who was taking shape. Letting go of expectations made room for magic and mystery to unfold. This is the path of love. It is the one that leads you towards empowerment, self-responsibility and self-acceptance.
Love is where all healing begins. Pain is an intrinsic part of life; and, it is a patient teacher. If you chose to work with pain rather than fight it, learn to understand what it can show you, then it will guide you into your heart and into the most powerful healing you could ever imagine. This path of love requires courage, willingness, awareness, acceptance, self-empowerment, responsibility and gratitude. It’s a journey. But make no mistake; each of us is more than capable of walking it in our own unique way. All dis-ease holds potentials for profound transformation and healing. All forms of medicine are sacred callings to immerse us in the healing waters of love. Life is full of paradoxes! Sometimes it is in the process of dying that we learn to live. And through it, we are reborn.