And there it was the Dharma, oinking in my face. You see I am booked to do "The Make It Show" in Vancouver this coming weekend. Which means crowds. Three days of crowds. Three days of crowds of mobile young people. Several cases of swine flu have been identified in the lower mainland. So I needed to think about this. Actually it wasn't a case of need. I woke up this morning and the first thought was, "I don't think I should do the Make It Show." You see I had cancer surgery just over a year ago and since then my immune system (and shall we say body/mind) has been in a state of shock. I spent a lot of last year bouncing back and forth between one flu and another. I became somewhat of a mini version of Howard Hughes, opening doors with my scarf, passing on dinner at my mother's care home. With the help of some serious mega vitamin treatments and some herbs I am doing much better, but.....
I had to give some serious thought to going to this event. Would it be fun? Would I worry? The weekend itself would be a tiring 2 1/2 days of show, something I knew but was prepared to do. Was it worth it? In monetary terms? In health terms? Since being sick I have learned to look at things a little differently. Some things just seem to matter less. In the end I decided that it was not worth putting myself in harms way for "some money". I have pre paid $250ish to be part of the show. I had to be able to say to myself I am okay with loosing that money. Though it ouches that thrifty part of me (who likes to watch $250 go for nothing?). I felt I could let it go. If I got sick and died for $250 how would I feel then??? Oh, you say I'd be dead and it wouldn't matter. True enough. Bad choice. Do not pass go. Straight to you next life as a small dog! I had to say that in the past I might be pretty attached to that cash. But life threatening diseases have a way of lending perspective, encouraging gratitude and equanimity.
I had to look at whether this was a fear based decision. Carole, are you just running and hiding under the bed? And my answer was no, that I was using common sense. I did have the flu in March. I am more vulnerable than some. It is not fear based to admit the truth about yourself. I feel pretty clear about that. I am not sitting by the TV quivering in my boots. I am going to the Theatre, out to dinner, to my mother's care home. True all this swine hype is pretty revved up by the media for the sake of getting people to tune in to the news all day long. True the media loves nothing better than a good tragedy. We are in such early stages of it all. It may well blow over into nothingness but at this stage so much is unknown. It's not like I plan to lock myself in the house but to put myself in a potentially harmful environment when I don't have to seems unnecessary. I don't need to go. I don't need the money.
So I could feel all the discomfort of having to decide, of going back and forth and second guessing myself. Really all is unknown. There are no right or wrong answers. I could feel a sense of embarrassment about having to backtrack and tell a bunch of people I have changed my plans. Maybe they'll think I'm a wimp. But would pride be any reason to go ahead with this?
I cringe about saying in these pages that I have had cancer. I have hinted at my "health opportunity" as a friend calls it. It is strange and if you've never been there, there is something mildly (or perhaps not so mildly) shameful about having to say you've had cancer. Somehow it seems like some admission of failure, some inadequacy, something for the marked and pitiful few. But there it is. It just is. Is it like coming out of the closet if you're gay??? Or telling people you're bi-polar or schizophrenic? Maybe I understand the feelings that course through those souls a little better now.
So here I am. I am fine. I am good with my choice. I am disappointed that the young woman who runs the "Make It" Show could not find anything exceptional about my situation to offer me more than routine cancellation policy (1/2 off her fall show). And yet I am willing to let that one go. Everyone does what seems good to them. Ironically she is doing a silent auction for "The Cancer Foundation".
So there it is the Dharma of contemplating our choices a little more deeply, not being so attached to all the things that are out there: our plans, our money, our pride. It is an opportunity to let go. It is an opportunity to work with the three poisons of greed (wanting money & outcomes), hate (wanting the show organizer to offer some compensation), delusion (thinking I am healthier than I really am).
I am sitting with that sense of unrest that arises when we have to change our plans, the disappointment of looking at the things that are ready and waiting to go to the show. And I can be good with my decision. As Ajhan Chah says, "let go a little, have a little peace, let go a lot, get a lot of peace, let go completely, have complete peace."