Cancer, what for?


The few people with whom I've shared the news of this new episode of cancer so far have a hard time believing that I feel perfectly fine. It is strange, I know, and surprising for me as it was the second time I received this diagnosis. This is part of the story I tell in the video on the home page of this web site. I question my serenity, almost indolence, and I force myself to think whether or not it is a pose or I am simply a little crazy.

I don't think that's the case. Within some room for error which is inevitable in whatever we decide we know about ourselves, and setting aside worries about my loved ones worrying about me, I must say that serenity and almost euphoria are the dominant feelings right now. I shared with my friend Manu that the reason for euphoria is that I have more clarity than ever; this blow silences many, many noises, even more so than when I had my own silent retreat. Although I would like to play down the severity of this illness and suggest that it may be for many of us simply a chronic condition that comes and goes (with all due respect to those who have suffered it directly or indirectly), I do not wish it to stop being a blow that knocks me down, a blow that allows me to build something new, once it's here.

This is the strangest thing, self-compassion in practice, and even better because it comes barely without any effort (just the effort of having spent in meditation so many good and difficult moments, I believe). Not having wished this, acknowledging that it is an adverse event, I look for and find the gain in what happens. And here comes the "what for". I am not one who says that everything happens for a reason as I'm not religious or dogmatic, but I am convinced of, and I have demonstrated to myself on endless occasions, the fact that we can find a reason for whatever happens to us. Our reasons, whichever ones we decide and build with our desires and the elements of reality that it's our turn to live and help build. Like Gandalf told Frodo in the first book of the Lord of the Rings: whatever happens in our time "is not for (us) to decide... All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

What is what I want to do with what is given to me? Which one is my "what for"? What I am building is still unfolding, and only with your help (and what you are building with mine) because this experience is also yours, as I said in another blog. I already see now that this new blow that silences noise and destroys who I am, although uncomfortable change, reminds me that life, the search we have at hand, is too important to take it too seriously, because it is fleeting and volatile. It also takes me back to the intuition that the nothingness that contains it all, noise and silence, comfort and discomfort, is a space of immense and never-ending beauty.