Synchronicity sometimes plays an important part in your life. This week I was faced with what I thought was the most important decision I’ve had to make since I began my cancer treatment. I’m on stage 4 terminal cancer, with, most likely, only a few months ahead of me. I have to make a decision whether to spend those months fighting off the cancer with chemo, or doing palliative care, taking painkillers and steroids to keep me awake. It was all very confusing, and I was blithering, worried, studying, speaking to people, and along came the earthquake and ensuing crises in Japan.
I feel connected to Japan, having been a Japanese Buddhist, and made several trips there. But the kind of decision you have to make when you’re hanging from a building wondering what to do next made my cancer dilemma seem trivial. And now on the news today, they’re wondering what to do with the nuclear plants – this must be the kind of decision that’s worthy of people’s time and attention. I can’t imagine what decision you have to make when you’re floating in the ocean on a piece of roof, or a tatami; and what kind of decision you have to make when you have to abandon your home, and know you may never see loved ones, loved possessions again – all that made you who you are.
I sit looking at my options, I’m so lucky to have options. I have options about my treatment, about who takes care of me, and much more important I have time to speak to my son and my grandchildren, time to meet with my friends and have quiet evenings. I see the woman trying to understand how to feed her baby hard rice, because she has no alternative, and here I decide between full supermarkets, or restaurants. How do you keep things in perspective?
Is it arrogant to compare my quandary with any of the problems faced by the Japanese people? They don’t get many options, it all happened – is happening – so quickly.
I feel very strange writing about this but at the same time I feel compelled to say something.