To be truly honest with you I have been a bit apprehensive about New Year’s Eve this year. I knew I felt uneasy about it but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why exactly. Now obviously it was probably something to do with cancer. Almost my entire existence now has something to do with cancer. What though, I wasn’t quite sure. I have spent today mainly lounging about and being looked after by my lovely wife who made me a smoothie and a soft boiled egg; it’s important not to underestimate the joy that can be found in a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg. Then my friend Janet came over. It’s her birthday tomorrow so we made plans for that and she told us all about her Christmas.
Janet is the jolly witch. She is almost always positive and is usually practising some kind of approach or technique or some such that adds to general health and well being. Today Janet told us about the 4 immeasurables. I’m loving ’em already.
The 4 immeasurables are love, compassion, equanimity and joy. It’s a Buddhist thing and basically is about wanting others to be happy, being compassionate to others, seeing things from other people’s perspectives and not judging them and celebrating the joys of others. They are immeasurables because they can be practiced infinitely. There is no limit to how much you can love someone or be compassionate, patient or joyful. Sometimes these things are not easy but they can always be done, we just have to choose to. The ‘choosing to’ brings me back to my apprehension over New Year’s Eve.
At first I thought that I was worried that being wished a Happy New Year would be a futile and hollow experience. How can I possibly have a happy new year? I will be spending the first half of it having chemotherapy and the rest undergoing and recovering from surgery, radiation therapy, possibly more chemo. What is certain is that there will be no certainty. Not this year. Most likely not for anymore of my years. Certainty is a privilege of the healthy and even then it isn’t really that certain, you just don’t know that it’s not.
When we wish each other a happy new year tonight the truth is that is exactly what we do…we wish. It’s blind faith and hope that anyone of us will make it through the year without injury, illness or tragedy. Chances are there will be a little bit of that for all of us in some way. There will also be wonderful acts of love, deep joys and great achievements for all of us. The key is choosing to spot them. Choosing to celebrate all the joys and the wonders that come our way rather than focussing of the negative.
This isn’t my great revelation for today. It’s hardly a new concept. Reflecting on this however led me to understand what I was scared of tonight.
Tonight I will not be filled with dread and sadness if you wish me a happy new year. I might be a little touched by dread and sadness if you don’t. My greatest New Year’s Eve fear is that out of sensitivity, sympathy or just not wanting to put your foot in it you won’t wish me a happy new year at all. That instead you’ll smile sadly and hug me and tell me that you’re rooting for me. That instead you’ll tell me that I can beat this and that you’re there whenever I need you. Of course these sentiments are lovely and well meaning and they come from a place of love and that is wonderful. I do truly appreciate them.
I still want to be wished a happy new year though. Despite all the potential side effects and the pain and the possibility of treatment not being as effective as we hope, there just has to be, there absolutely will be, some really really good stuff in 2014 too.
Cancer is a thieving little bastard that steals your confidence, your time and your sense of self. I am buggered if I am going to let the blighter steal all my joys as well. You can’t have it cancer, I am going to find all the joys there are to find in 2014. Every one of them. And as we know, joy can be immeasurable as long as we choose it to be.
“Love and joy come to you and to you a wassail too
God bless you and send you a Happy New Year”