“…the control we want to think we have over our lives is…an illusion. It is an illusion we are accepting of because the opposite of it is hard to bear. The truth of the matter is that life can change on a dime, tragedy is merely a phone call away. But what that made me understand is that not only do I not have control over everything, but I am also not responsible for everything. Life happens and we move into the changes, like it or not. It doesn’t really take courage because we have no other choice. Every day the sun comes up and the sun goes down and we get through another day.” – Marilyn Jean
That is from Marilyn’s blog, ThereMustBeSomeMistake. Marilyn, a former RN, speaks with such a moving, rich voice about her experience with breast cancer, and her new online friends are checking in with their experiences. I thought you might enjoy getting to know her. I’ve never had cancer but I’ve had a lot of surgeries and several cancer scares, so I relate to her words. What she says above just hammered my heart. I feel the same way, so much so that I made up a scene in Dakota Blues about the exact same thing, and I’ve included that excerpt at the end of this post.
I also want to turn you on to a helpful friend, Dr. Melanie G. Dr. G is a psychologist, and you might want to follow her on Twitter. She is such a curious, thoughtful reader and prolific linker that you could almost follow her alone and still have a cornucopia of helpful articles to read every day.
Finally, here’s my excerpt, where recently fired middle-aged workaholic Karen Grace sets out from the Dakotas in a Roadtrek 190 camper van:
“Room enough, and time.” The phrase tickled around the edges of her memory, something she’d read in a book or heard in a movie, a blessing proclaimed by the Native Americans about places such as this. Here on this highway in the vast freedom of the Northern Plains, her mind uncluttered by a daily agenda or the demands of a casual populace, she could permit herself the luxury of thought. She slowed the van until it came to a stop. The wind blew in the windows, rearranging her hair until she was blind and thrumming past her ears until she was deaf. It rocked the van but Frieda still slept, and the highway was deserted for miles in both directions. Karen put the van in park and eased the door open. Her bare feet touched the blacktop, warm but not hot. She filled her lungs with the dry, clean air, right off the plains and miles from any town. She heard a squirrel chirping and saw antelope walking along on the other side of the barbed wire fence, tearing clumps of grass from the rich earth. The wild fields on both sides of the road revealed an astonishing palette of light yellow, orange, pink, blue and three colors of green: pea, mint, and forest. The rippling grasses were topped by feathery beige flowers that resembled wheat.
“Insignificance: for the first time she considered that she need not accept responsibility for everybody and everything within range in her world. In taking on that responsibility she had not only overburdened herself, but shortchanged those for whom she worried. Why had she assumed them incapable, taking that weight on her own shoulders? Other people surely carried within them their own strength, their own resources, and she finally saw that she was not responsible: not for her parents’ satisfaction with their lives, not for her relatives nor her former employees at Global Health, nor for what happened to the planet after she left it.
“Instead, she saw herself as a bright, vivid figure standing on a timeline, her ancestors barely visible behind her, their small beloved bodies dim and fading into history. In front of her she saw only stick figures moving into the unknowable and impersonal future, as anonymous as the ancestors. As if she slid a magnifying glass along the ruler of history, the figures became larger and clearer as they edged nearer in proximity to her own life. They gained names and identities, but only for that small space in time they shared with her.
“In front of the van she stood on the center line of the deserted highway, her arms outstretched, eyes closed. The wind embraced her with its clovered breath, wrapped itself around her waist, between her legs and under her arms, lifting her. She turned in a slow circle, her arms reaching out, her fingertips lengthening to touch all that she could see in three hundred and sixty degrees of solitude and peace.
“It was enough. It was everything.”