Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dragonfly Eyes: Multiple Ways to Envision the Future

So, I just returned from my week-end at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, where I participated in a brainstorming session with a multidisciplinary group of people. We had so many ideas - it was really thought provoking.

Also, in order to put my comment about the forest into context, I want to note that the forest doesn't tend to sooth my soul - it doesn't touch my deepest spirit - in the same way as the ocean - that was something I said to a few people this week-end.

Anyway, this is the email that I just wrote to the organizers and felt that I wanted to share them with you:

Dear K and C,
My mind is kinda racing - I'm feeling rejuvenated so I think the forest affected me more than I acknowledged while I was there. Ideas are percolating. I'm not sure what to do with the energy. So, I think that I might send you the poem I created yesterday, with A's [A is a poet] directions. I'm not sure how well my metaphors are working . . .

I was struck by A's observation that the moss was writing a story on the tree. That's the starting point for this poem:

Our Task
Moss is writing its story on the tree
Like the Willamette River in the past
Sending tendrils to different places
Creating patterns of swirls and squiggles
It is not a violent invasion
It is a peaceful negotiation
To coexist together on the land
We must send our tendrils into the world

[editorial note: We only had about 15 minutes to write it, so it's probably not as well developed as I might wish.]

I think I'm going to write a blogpost about the week-end . . . that might help me get these ideas out of my head so I can sleep tonight.

Also, K, on my way home, I got to thinking about J's and D's pessimistic vision of the future, especially J's "hope vortex". I likened her sense of a doomsday future to my cancer situation. There was (and sometimes are) times when I feel a sense of despair and loss because of my metastatic cancer - despair that I might die of this disease and the sense of loss of a normal life. I could easily stay in that place. But by practicing living in the moment, I have more or less moved past that despair and by being aware of what is going on right now - paying attention to the blooming rhododendrons or irises or how the waves sound at the ocean or the rain trickling through the leaves last night - I sense this future full of possibilities.

I believe that cancer can't live for long in a happy and hopeful body. It needs pessimism and despair and anger to continue to grow. I want to change the "terrain" of my body (to borrow a phrase from the book Anticancer: A New Way of Life) to make it inhabitable to cancer.

If I may use the analogy of cancer, we might say that the cancer that is infecting our environment (the coral reefs, climate change, etc.) is more able to thrive in an environment of despair and hopelessness. Our task is to change the "terrain" of the global discourse - we need to create a context in which these cancerous growths can no longer exist.

I don't know how we will get there. But that's what we will discover as we move along this path.

A final note: they say that as a cancer patient is undergoing treatment, it takes just as long to recover from the treatment as the length of treatment the patient received. So, if they received three months of chemo and three months of radiation, then healing from the effects of those treatments will take six months.

Environmental degradation has been years in the making. I suspect that the fixes may take as long. As a global society, we need to be willing to invest that time.

I felt compelled to share these ideas with you . . . you can share them with the rest of the Dragonfly Eyes group if you wish. At the very least, I think that these observations can be made part of the record of this week-end.

Still percolating with ideas,


Joanna said...

I love this post. Living in the moment... it makes everything so much easier after a cancer diagnosis. The concept had never occurred to me before, but I do think that was my coping mechanism during treatment.

Healing and creating a new terrain...So much to think about

Cat, Jeremiah, Finn and baby limpet said...

I love this post! I love the poem as well. The idea of living in the moment is a new one for've been teaching me to do that through your posts...and I have to say it works. Instead of worrying all the stomach in knots...I've been learning to let go.

I'm glad you posted this and I hope the Dragonfly Eyes really let it sink in.

Dee said...

Hi Joanna,
Thank you! I'm glad that the post made you think more about healing . . . and glad to hear that you were able to learn how to "live in the moment".

@Cat, I'm glad it's been helpful to you, too! That makes me happy. It's a hard skill to learn . . . but I do think it lends itself to a better quality of life. I hope that the Dragonfly Eyes folks see that, too.