“Drop from your head to your heart…Suffering and beauty appear together in life. How do we let in beauty while we are suffering?”
To live is to suffer. We all know this. We also know that life is heartbreakingly beautiful as well.
At first, when I read this quote from Nepo I immediately thought about gratitude. Gratitude is how we let in the beauty while we suffer. So, I began the practice of creating daily gratitude lists in my head and sometimes in my journal and when I cultivated an attitude of gratitude the beauty of life became more apparent and I felt more peace.
When the cancer came back in the summer of 2016 it was hard to feel gratitude. I was so angry and sad. Sad doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I was devastated. I had to face the reality that the now recurrent stage four ovarian cancer was deemed treatable but not curable. We were now buying me time with surgery and treatments. I was now a terminal cancer patient.
Life, as it is wont to do, so I moved forward and I resumed my gratitude practice. Some days I could only write the most minimal things on my gratitude list.
After finishing the last intravenous chemo infusions in April of 2017 and starting oral chemotherapy for “maintenance” treatment I started to realize that I had begun to pull away from my life and isolate myself emotionally from family and friends. I was going through the motions of life without truly living.
You see, life was becoming too painful for me. Every family event, every shared moment with family and friends, every beautiful sunset; all of it was so beautiful and so exquisitely painful. I struggled to find a way to let the beauty in while experiencing such intense suffering. It was all too painful.
When I would hug my children, tears would come to my eyes as my heart clenched in pain. Thoughts of the future without me in it became too much to bear so for several months I closed my heart to survive the pain.
I was missing out on so much beauty.
The Mark Nepo quote kept running through my head as it now had become a riddle for me to solve. I thought I had figured it out. It seemed so simple before. Gratitude was the answer to the riddle but now I felt that gratitude was not the entire answer. There was more.
I began to see a “saying” on social media. People were writing and hashtagging #All The Feels.
All the feels. I knew this was the answer to the riddle. I had to feel all the “feels” of life to let the beauty in. No matter what it took to do so. I could not laugh unless I allowed myself to cry as well.
I am still working on understanding this seemingly simple quote from Nepo. It has become deeper and more meaningful to me every time I think about it.
I am working on opening my heart back up to life. My family, my husband, my friends, and all the beauty life offers. Often, I will cry after seeing my grandson, family and friends. I will get in my car to drive home from spending time with loved ones and must pull over as I struggle to breathe and see the road through my tears. Life is so beautifully painful to me all the time now. I want to withdraw my heart to a place where the pain does not feel like shards of glass slicing my soul to shreds.
But I can’t do that. I need to feel all the feels. I must drop from my head into my heart. Stop thinking so much about the future and enjoy more of the present moment allowing myself the tears when they threaten to spill over. Allowing myself to be more honest and vulnerable with those who love me, so I can experience the beauty of life.
All of life.
All the feels.
With love & gratitude,