I don’t take credit for the title, I got it from within a post from Paul’s Heart . I won’t even tell you which post, just go check out his blog, its both inspiring and well written. Paul is a Cancer Survivor, like myself, and while his blog does tell a lot about his journey of cancer survival, it also tells much about his heart and his wonderful view on a life well lived.
I tried to start a blog for cancer survivors, separate from this one. My pitiful three post blog Life Adapted. I think I will merge it into this one, as I found I couldn’t continue with it. Paul has found the right balance of optimism and daily living experiences, not over-focusing on the survival aspect, more on the living aspect, and that is what was missing in mine. But on to the title of this post.
Relax from Reality. I love that. Thank you, Paul.
It is an essential element of life that sometimes we just have to ignore it and forget it and give ourselves over to relaxing. This is true for everyone, and I’ve become an expert in it without even trying.
Let’s face it, Reality is hard. And although I know we do have to face reality most of the time in order to function in this world, I think sometimes people take reality too seriously.
As a cancer survivor, Reality is something that was pushed at me early – at the age of 15 I was told I might not make it another 5 years. The end of March will mark 45 years cancer free. So much for reality, huh?
Reality is a variable, not fixed in time and space.
Later, it was emphasized that I must face reality, and be vigilant about after care. I admit this is very important and I let it (the vigilance) slip for a number of years, but I think that slippage was necessary. My way of facing reality was to live it, live life, have a family, enjoy. While I would never tell a cancer survivor to let down their guard, I will say that sometimes you do have to “relax from reality” and just enjoy it.
More recently, reality has a certain bite to it, as post-radiation treatment effects are wearing on my body, creating pain and fatigue and muscle weakness. There is nothing that can be done about it, so what am I supposed to do? Face Reality?
I do take care of myself. I see my doctors regularly, make sure nothing new or nasty has arisen in my body. I know how important it is and I am dutifully watchful. But I see no reason why I should focus on it or allow it to control my life or my mood.
So I don’t. Face it, I mean. As my body struggles more and more against pain and weakness, I find myself more and more allowing my mind to wander to places that are not within this realm we call reality. Relaxing from reality comes easily to me, it feels like home, a place in my mind that is both familiar and welcoming.
I don’t know if it’s something that simply comes naturally to me, or if it’s a result of my early experiences. As a child, I was asthmatic, often home sick. I learned to read at an early age and became quite the escapist, falling into my books and going on journeys of imagination. As much as I loved school (yeah, mini nerd here) I also loved just being in my own mind, creating worlds. Homework wasn’t just homework, it was me pretending to be a teacher and explaining the assignment to myself. I’d play both parts, teacher and student in my mind, and the homework was never a drudgery, but something part of the game, part of the fun. So, did the early illness and isolation breed a vivid imagination, or was I always of a nature that is content to be alone in a room with my imagination?
I would like to be able to say that having cancer at age 15 shocked me out of the daydreaming, but it didn’t. If anything, it made the whole cancer journey just part of the story of life. It was an adventure, and I was fascinated by it. Scared? No, I don’t remember feeling fear. I remember thinking that I probably should feel fear. But this was a new experience in this journey called Life, and I took it on with a sense of alert curiosity. This was something real, happening to me, not a dream or my imagination, and that gave it all the more power in terms of fascination. I experienced every moment of it, every treatment, with a kind of awe.
That sense of awe has been with me my whole life. I’d like to say having cancer changed me, made me appreciate life all the more, but that wouldn’t be true. I’ve always appreciated the events in my life, lived them to the fullest. Perhaps even more fully aware than many people are as they go through their routines day after day. It doesn’t matter if the experiences are good or bad, they are life, and life has always amazed me.
But then, so does the imagination. Amaze me. The power of imagination to take one away from the here and now is alive and well within me. A movie, a good book, playing a computer game, all can take me away from the physical effects my body goes through, take me away from pain. So why not?
But there is another element to a good book or movie – it lets me live many experiences vicariously. The blessing of a vivid imagination allows me to experience these emotions as if they were my own, and so my life feels enriched, even though, physically, I can do little more than sit here in my computer room tapping on keys. What a blessing!
I realize most people do have to deal with day to day reality and work and so many different pressures, and most cannot afford to simply escape from reality.
But Relax from Reality, that is different.
When was the last time you daydreamed? Have you ever laid back on a (real or imagined) field of flowers and just let your mind relax along with your body? I think that everyone needs a bit of relaxation from reality from time to time. No I wouldn’t suggest you do it like I do, hey, I’m 60, I’m not working, and so I can allow myself the luxury. But I’m also less stressed, at least, mentally. Emotionally. I don’t “need” to relax, I already am relaxed most of the time.
But how about you? Take an occasional break from reality, relax your mind, let all the questions go away, and just be in the moment. Feel your body relax along with your mind. Care-free. Or read a good book, watch a movie, allow yourself to be taken away. It’s healthy. And it’s good for you. Next time you take a coffee break, why not try for a reality break instead.
Relax from Reality.
Life is good.