Great Expectations

Usually I feel energized after acupuncture, so I look forward to the appointment, and then revel in the feeling afterwards. But this morning after my appointment, I was disappointed to drive away feeling tired instead of energized.

Of course, there was reason to be tired. Our busy weekend included lots of driving and attending the MA state gymnastics meet to watch our seven-year-old son compete.

I never competed state-wide for anything, so I was already amazed to be there, even as an observer. I hoped to see his display good behavior, a solid performance and a fun time with his friends.

We watched him closely in each event, and his performance and scores were solid. There were a lot of good competitors, but he could be proud of his performance. He was also a good teammate and having fun. How he placed felt secondary to us, and we all enjoyed the meet itself.

In the end, he placed 6th in rings, 6th all around, and first in the high bar. First in high bar in the state. Wow.

He was rightfully proud, and we were thrilled for him. We took lots of photos and made a fuss over his medals. Having no expectations to win made it feel like icing on the cake, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

Maybe I needed to get rid of my expectations around acupuncture (and lots of other things outside my control) and then I could enjoy whatever I won from it. And then simply move onto the next thing.

After the meet, during the long drive home, he called from the backseat.

“Mom, look at this!”

I assumed it would be something related to his medals. I looked back at him still wearing his uniform and the medals around his neck. He pointed to his mouth as he blew a big bubble with his gum and smiled. The gymnastics meet? So 15 minutes ago. He was having fun meeting the next challenge in front of him. I am thrilled that he is still only seven, after all.

 

We find our faith where we put it

This week was amazing. I realized that I feel even better than I did two years ago. My energy and spirit have been fabulous, and I want to shout my thanks from the mountaintops. I thank you for your prayers and your good wishes and your presence in my life. I THANK GOD that I feel so strong and vibrant. I regularly give thanks to the spiritual entities who carried me through my last week and who apparently continue to do so. I can deeply feel the shift.

Sometimes I am shocked that I talk about such intangible aspects of life as though they are tangible and proven. I always believed in God and have always, for as long as I can remember, had clear spiritual events happening to me. The effects are so real to me, but I have only recently started talking about them. While I know that many people have even stronger experiences, I am still very aware that many people (including myself before all this) would think I am crazy.

For example, when I bring up anything “unproven” with my oncologist – which includes any alternative practices I can imagine, including diet – his reactions are (paraphrased), “That hasn’t been tested” or “We don’t know how it works” or “It only works for a small subset of the population.”

Despite his doubts, he tries to be supportive, saying, “If it makes you happy and does no harm, go for it.” Not a ringing endorsement but I can accept that we view the world differently. I stay with him because he is smart and easy to talk with, characteristics which go a long way with me.

When we met immediately before my last chemo session, my doctor and nurse were discussing ideas to help manage the nausea I had been experiencing and offered me a different drug.

“What kind of drug is it?” I asked them.

“It is an anti-psychotic, but it is also useful in managing nausea.”

“How does it work?” I wondered out loud.

“We don’t know how it works. It just seems to work for nausea,” they replied.

Not knowing how treatments work obviously doesn’t bother me; I do plenty of healing modalities that just seem to work. However, I was hesitant to use a drug that would change my already-chemo-addled brain in some unknown and unneeded ways, so I declined.

After our previous conversations, I was intrigued that he would recommend something without knowing how it worked.

This conversation pushed my thinking about where we place our faith. My doctor may not have faith in say, acupuncture, but he does have faith in the scientific system of drug development. Because of his faith in that system, he is comfortable prescribing a drug without knowing firsthand how it works. He trusts that others have tested it and he trusts their account of the results.

I completely understand that it can be hard to believe in the intangible aspects of my path. I can automatically hold those same kinds of doubts when someone tells me something that is outside my own experience.

For example, if one of my kids were to say, “The pasta is crunchy,” my first reaction would be to taste a piece and see for myself (except that I no longer eat wheat). Then if my particular piece was perfectly fine, I would say something like, “This pasta is perfectly fine,” fully negating their experience.

Lately, though, I find that I am able to have more faith in what someone else says. Consider this image:

My friend and I stand together in front of a painting. She makes some comment like, “Wow, you can just feel the anger in this!” or “The joy just leaps off the canvas!” I look at the painting, trying to see what she sees.

Nothing leaps out at me, so I tilt my head, as if a new angle will expose these hidden secrets. Still nothing. I turn my head to look at her face, which has an unusually focused and emotional expression connected in some way to the painting. My eyes follow her line of sight, as if it were a string, back to the painting, and I look at it again.

I cannot see what she sees. I can’t “just feel the anger” in this. I see nothing “leaping off the canvas” toward me or even toward her. I can say that I like the painting. I can say that it makes me feel happy. Mostly, though, I feel like a spectator. Maybe even like a blind spectator. But I can trust that she sees what she says she is seeing. In fact, I have no doubt. I just can’t see it myself.

In most circles, it doesn’t feel socially acceptable to say that you believe in the unseen and unproven. I used to joke that I was raised Catholic, a faith in which we believe that during the Mass, bread and wine are literally transformed into the body and blood of Christ. When that is your starting point, one can believe that anything is possible.

The more I look, the more I notice that so many of us put our faith in that which we cannot see or prove for ourselves. My oncologist has faith in scientists he has never met and a scientific process that he didn’t perform. I have complete faith that my friend sees elements that jump out of paintings. Countless people in the world have faith that the Passover and Easter stories occurred, even though they were not there to witness it. We have faith in God and in each other in powerful ways that enable us to do and to be more than we could ever have imagined.

It doesn’t mean that any of these are right or wrong. But, for me at least, as I venture frequently into the unknown, I rely on the views that others share with me to support and expand my own experiences, and I find that they can be just as tangible as any object.

Thank you for sharing the things you see. I have faith in you, and thank you for your faith in me.

Love,
Marie