Thursday, June 7, 2012

Being at Peace

This last weekend I had the privilege of meeting a fellow breast cancer survivor who had some pretty big burdens. She struggled with the question of whether she had done things differently, if there would have been different outcomes in an area of her life.  This question is one which burns in the minds of some cancer patients....Would I have avoided cancer if I had done this?  Would I have been in a better position if I had gone to my doctor earlier?  Lots of "What ifs."

Of course, one of the other things that cancer patients have to deal with are the people who accuse you of causing your own cancer, and indicate that cancer is a "wake up call."  That maybe "Now you will take better care of yourself, stop eating so much, get more exercise, stop smoking..." fill in the if we need MORE life altering things to deal with at the time of diagnosis and we certainly don't need  more guilt.

I feel strongly that for most of us, we do the best that we can at the time. In retrospect, sometimes we think we could have done better.  However, with where we were at the time, with the information we had, with the personalities and resources  we have...usually the answer is we did the best that we could at that time.

The hard part is looking at that..acknowledging it, and then letting it go.  I think that most of the meditative practices, such as Yoga generally believe that.. Often, we go through the motions or even actually are able to get most of it....but letting it go, and allowing ourselves to have peace in that is difficult.

One of my constant expressions throughout life is "What is done is done" and "no use crying over spilled milk."  I am also taken by a line from the Book of Common Prayer...and if any Episcopalians can help me out, I'd appreciate it.  I remember a prayer which was said at the end of the day....only I can't remember WHICH office it is, but one of the lines is "what has been done, is done.  What has been left undone is undone," then it goes on to say to put it aside, and be at peace....go to sleep...tomorrow is another day.  All of us need to remember this and try to practice it.  I think it will lead to better inner peace and probably a healthier body...if not a healthier mind.

But there's another element to this.  I admit, I was a bit nonplussed this weekend when I heard from my college Freshman daughter who was preparing for her final exams this week.  Being "mom" I asked her if she had been studying hard.  She waffled...which indicated to me she had been umm.....enjoying life? rather than really hitting the books.  She started in on "I only have to get a 71 in order to get a 90 in the class and I only need a 3.75.. in that class and in another...."  This isn't new.  I'm not sure how I feel about it.

My daughter and I are two different people.  Maybe it is my having cancer is why she often snorts at me and says "there's more to life than studying."  Don't get me wrong.  She does well, and she's smart.  But in my book you work as hard as you can to do as well as you possibly can..and figuring out the minimum you need to do isn't doing the best you can.

I suppose it goes back to the first part of this essay.  If you do the BEST that you can, and work as hard as you can, then you can rest assured that no matter what the outcome, you did what you could in that moment.  I'm not sure that figuring out the minimum you can do is doing that...although it might just be a stress reliever for her and she is verbalizing this....but not really slacking off....but studying smartly and effectively.

A mom can only hope.

On the other hand, my husband's cousins say that she is great at time and project management and this is a useful skill once she gets out in the business world.

Time will only tell, and, of course...her grades.


  1. Meg's going to do great; and if she falters a bit (and it will only be a bit, since she's too smart to fall far), she won't make the same mistake twice.

    I'm thinking of you and hoping you're feeling better today.

  2. Thanks, Vivien. Meg will do great....and she does. As I said, I finally figured out that this is her coping mechanism....and she managed to finish out her freshman year with a 3.7....even though the Spanish threw her for a loop because the instructor gave her a 92 on her first test and never read or graded anything but a 92 on papers, participation, etc. thereafter. AND she managed to get 100% on her accounting finals. :) Yeah, I'm a proud momma. Go Bobcats!