You know those days. The days that stand on the shoulders of all other days. The days that find you looking back through time with a new lens and entranced on the spiraling playground slide of the future. The days where time does in fact come to a stand still and indelible bookmarks are logged in your memory. The days that sear a scar into the fabric of your delicate being.
Like the day when I performed at Carnegie Hall. Like the day when my ‘friends’ got together without me and I realized that they weren’t really my friends. Like the college semester I got an A in multivariable calculus and set the curve in my botany lab class. Like the days when I was chosen last for teams during PE. Like the time I thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Like the day when my husband called me and told me that he was sleeping with someone else. Like the day I learned that the fibrous muscles and flabbiness of my body are capable of far more than my mind had ever fathomed. Like the day that my trail friends Toots Magoots and Tears For Beers sent me sunglasses. Like the day I was diagnosed with cancer.
These days, both amazing and hard, have carved me into the person that sits here writing this blog. But what I notice the most about these experiences is how they have remolded the way I perceive myself. The repetition of not being liked for who I am, of being the wrong body size and being chosen last slowly bled into my core. I became a person who unknowingly second guessed their ability and worth. A person who cared a little too much about what other people thought. A person who had lost sight of the strength within.
Change can be so constant that you don’t even notice. Little by little I’ve chipped away at those walls, changing entrenched ideas into new pathways. After being the only female percussionist in the 2002 National Wind Ensemble, I knocked out my notes with a little more confidence. After acing calculus I happily devoured physics, because it turned out that I actually could do math. After battling cancer I had the strength to go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. Had I really been transformed, like a magical spell from the fairies? No. Some switch in my brain had been flung wide open in the opposite direction. I now thought about myself without that critical lens which hadn’t allowed me to see and know me.
Cancer was the perfect catalyst. It allowed me to wake up in my LIFE and discover my true self. To focus on a different way of being, to see the arcing sparks of LIFE, to question my tread on this planet. If it weren’t for cancer I would not have learned about nutrition, toxic chemicals that harm the entire web of LIFE, nutrient-dense foods, riding bicycles, hiking long distances, living simply, environmental advocacy, real friend values, that LIFE is short, taking deep breathes, and to be present. Above all else, to be present in LIFE. And yes, the learning continues….
So what got me thinking about all this? A pair of sunglasses. And not just any sunglasses. Bad-ass, bitchin’, no-shit-takin’, cool-chick, strong-woman, I-don’t-give-a-fuck sunglasses. Power sunglasses for the Continental Divide Trail. The day after my routine medical tests at UCSF (blood draw, neck ultrasound, appointment with endo), I arrived home to find an unexpected box. If the cameras were rolling you would have seen my inner child emerging and tearing into the box with excitement. You would have seen an adult whose heart buoyed with this act of kindness. You would have seen a smile, the creases around my eyes turning upward. Thank you Toots and Tears for being such dear friends and upgrading my trail bling!