Tickling a Fish



tickle by Caroline – flickr creative commons

Being diagnosed with two cancers was like being thrown into a tornado. One minute everything is fine, the next: terror. A few months prior to my diagnosis I had told my then-doctor. “I have nothing left, no resilience, I’m exhausted.” Imagine entering the maelstrom of cancer treatment with already nothing to give  to the effort (I never fought, actually. I refused to fight the cancer, since it was a part of myself, how could fighting it make sense?). I knew,  of course, that this no-reason-to-live feeling was my death sentence.

So the question was, Why Live? What do I have to live for? What do I have to contribute? I understood completely that if I could not answer this question, I would not continue the life. And the answer was always I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. Not my career, not my family, not my marriage, not my few friends and many acquaintances – WHAT???? I roared. I SCREAMED, “WHAT???

My career was a failure; burned to the ground. My marriage: two people avoiding the walls between each other. There was not one area of my life where I felt satisfaction, a glow, any peace. And yet….

There were visions. Frequently. In the first hour of my diagnosis, I heard a voice in my mind, “food is medicine.” An Aboriginal Australian woman came to me a few days later “She’s your Inner Healer.” I understood. A Crocodile came to me – “to give you a spine.” Images, metaphors – Healing.

Back to the Questions, because it is in the questions that real Healing occurs.

Why me? Why live?

I am in a forest on a shady path that runs alongside a river. Ahead of me there is light,  but before I approach the clearing, I kneel beside the river. I am at the foot of a great tree whose roots extend into the water. Like the roots of the tree, I dip my hands into the river, remaining in this posture for a long time. Many months. The question doesn’t even matter any more. The path no longer exists; it fades away behind and in front of me. There is only the glint of sunlight on the rippling river, and my hands below the surface, tickling the belly of a large wise fish who has joined me. This moment. This metaphor. This is Healing.


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