by Laura Slap-Shelton, Psy.D.
A funny or not so funny thing happened at the end of 2006... It was determined that I had to have surgery to remove a nodule from my lung. In the space of two weeks I, with the support of my husband, consulted a doctor at NYU, got a referral to a surgeon in Boston, and scheduled my surgery which will be this coming week.
In the space of 15 minutes my office manager and I cancelled two months of appointments. A few weeks later my lap top crashed to the ground. We had to put down our oldest dog.
The funny part was that I was already struggling to make some changes in my life, slow things down and not spend my evenings and weekends working. I had spent two years following the nodule in my lung, and seven CT scans later and a PET scan, it was time to get it out. And the timing was right. Could I have avoided the surgery by making the changes sooner? Was the surgery meant to be so that I would make the changes? How much control do I have really? How much meaning can I attribute to each event in my life and which meaning should I attribute to what?
Driving down the road with my daughter last week, in the full throws of angst over the upcoming surgery, an apparently black cat crossed my path. As I had already dropped my lap top that morning and also discovered that a report I had written had not been saved properly, my daughter noted that the cat could not portend those things. My mind immediately jumped to the idea that it portended a bad outcome for my surgery. My daughter was horrified that I took her remark in this way. Two days later driving down the same road in better light a cat crossed the road at the same place. The cat was blackÖ and white... most likely the same cat--so what is the significance of a black and white cat? Bumper plate hieroglyphics suddenly loomed prophetic as I drove through town and up and down Rte. 95 in southern Maine. The mind looks for meaning, looks for answers, and looks for promises of good outcomes--or at least my mind was working overtime in just such a pursuit. Finally, today I relaxed. Iím not sure why, and Iím sure Iíll still look at those bumper plates with interest, but not perhaps desperation.
During the visit to the specialist in Manhattan, I had been taken with the idea of the path of the warrior as one means of understanding what I was going through. This was in part a reaction to my sudden need for better and more information and guidance--quick! Notably on that trip I saw things I probably would never have noticed which at the time appeared to be guiding me on my way. And in truth, I think they were or I think that I was in sync with my experience in the world and felt even a little bit guided. How to know if this is true? Does it matter if it is true if it is my experience? Solipsism or the hand of God?
Anyway the wake up call was not just for me, but for my husband and family too. It is time for us to have more fun, do more together, enjoy the good wine as a dear friend recently emailed me. But not time to retire, say goodbye, or drop out of my life...not time to die... time instead to enjoy the things I do, and weed out the things I donít enjoy. Time to learn how to give and help others while still nurturing my soul and body. It is time..or as many of my friends would being saying now, it is about time.
And so my New Year wish for everyone is that of balance, renewal, growth and as always healing. Make meaning of your life and your life will provide you with new wonders to consider and add to the collages that we all are creating each day on this wonderful planet.
P.S. The author is happily enjoying a rapid recovery from a successful surgery, but more on that later...
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