(by Andrew Norton)
While going through chemotherapy I was often asked, “how are you coping?” What a great question!
Here’s my reflection on that question:
Thank you for asking. The question acknowledges the significance of what I’m going through; “how do you cope with THIS?”
It is also a roundabout way of asking the same question of yourself; “how would I cope if THIS was happening to me?”
If coping is ‘everything is and will be just fine’, it’s not. I’d rather not go through THIS.
I’d rather not have to cope at all!
Do you want to swap places with me?
My definition of coping is simply showing up each day.
Some days it will rain, the winter wind will penetrate your bones, there will be rainbows pitched against the dark sky but then the sun will shine.
Showing up is to be present to all.
I have no choice.
Actually, I do but, I choose to show up no matter what.
That’s how I cope.
David Wagoner writes in his poem Lost:
“Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known.”
It is so easy to get lost in the great unknown, in questions that have no answers today and in the wild imaginations of tomorrows that do not yet exist.
But “here” is not lost, unless you are lost to it.
Here is where you are and you must show up to all “here” has to offer.
Is it easy? No.
Is it pleasant? Not always.
But “here” is a powerful stranger that knocks at my door and waits for an invitation; a conversation at times fierce, loving and gracious, where we may both find each other, to know and to be known in our moments of encounter.
Are you up to the conversation that “here” has to offer?
That’s what it means to show up.
That’s how you cope.
(Reprinted in loving memory of Andrew Norton)