Reconnecting with aliveness

Cancer hasn't broken me. It's made me realize how much I've been controlled by fear ~ Cary Tennis

I have been a regular reader of the Cary Tennis advice columns on and have always enjoyed his wise and witty columns. He is currently on leave while he recovers from cancer surgery, but has been documenting his experience on his Open Salon blog. Reading his latest post, I was struck once more by the highs and lows, the rollercoaster journey we make with cancer.

Yesterday for the first time in a while I felt the mad rush of physical being. I felt the exhilaration of strength returning. I felt the sheer wonder of taking a breath.

I love this description of his sense of aliveness – that feeling I remember of being totally awake to the moment, that heightened sense of being and clarity, which coming face to face with your mortality gives you.

Cary goes on to write that he has come to a realisation of

how much fear had dominated so many aspects of my life. It wasn’t big enormous fear. It was little fears. Like little fears of being uncomfortable about stuff. And now, after all I’ve been through, after what I’ve faced, I just kind of don’t have that

I remember thinking just the very same thing and thinking how I had wasted so much of my precious time in the past sweating the small stuff and worrying about every little thing. And so I changed and I became less fearful and more grateful and in the moment and it was wonderful while it lasted…right up until the first week I returned to work after cancer treatment had ended.  As I sat in traffic watching the rain team down and fought for a parking space and faced a mountain of work in an unheated cramped office, and…well you know the rest…normal life resumed.

What was so good about reading Cary’s piece for me was remembering that the feeling of aliveness is still there, waiting for us in this very moment, if we just become aware.  We are imperfect human beings struggling with the human condition, so sometimes we slip back into our old habits. Yes, we know that life is too precious to allow the small stuff to overwhelm us, but we are only human after all, and sometimes it does. The thing we need to remember is we always have that chance to become aware and then start again. Life is precious and we have been given this second chance – let’s seize it today.