Monday, September 10, 2012

Fear Factor

You know the first part of the story: I was young and strong and I got cancer and it is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

You might not know the next part, and the reason it has been silent on the blog for so long: Right after I was confirmed as being in full remission, we bought a thirty-seven foot sailboat.
She's exactly the boat we dreamed about as we sat in the sun on Saturday mornings and spilled coffee on the map of where we now live. We've been quietly preparing her to carry us from Maine to North Carolina to live aboard for the winter. What comes next is uncertain, but it is unlikely to be conventional. (Since I couldn't talk about it publicly, and I can't be insincere about what is important in my life, I couldn't write for a while).

I'm excited. I'm ecstatic. And I'm definitely scared.

I used to think I could rationalize my fears away; I would confront my anxiety with a host of reasons for its cosmic insignificance. Then it would continue to sit and smirk in a corner of my mind, enlarged and empowered by my efforts to banish it. Then one day I sat down across from my own mortality, and I looked at my hand, and I had nothing to bid. I was scared. I was really fucking scared. I was so scared that I had to admit it, admit that I was afraid to die and without any argument for why I wasn't going to.

Then a strange thing happened: the anxiety went away, and my course of action was clear. The unknown was still there, the source of the fear, but the fear itself had no power. I didn't feel afraid anymore.

Sometimes I leave the kitchen a mess all day. I know that it has to get cleaned, and so it will. But that letter might not get written, or that call not get made, or that game not get played. I'm going to wake up in the morning and take breaths, one after another, all day, no matter what happens. Sometimes I'm going to be scared, and that's just one of many things that might happen. Security is illusory. So I'm getting on that boat, and charging into the unknown, because the fear wins only when I pretend it's not there. In adventure, the payoff is proportional to the risks.

Of course, I'll have to eat. Two of my favorite recipes are adapted very closely from these links, both grain- and nut-free: Fluffy Coconut Blueberry Pancakes, (I substitute maple syrup for honey and add a cup of blueberries. If you increase this recipe, increase the eggs by a factor of at least 1.5x, so in doubling it you will need ten eggs, rather than eight) and Sweet Potato Fish Chowder (I omit the bacon because my husband doesn't eat pork, and instead of using broth I add a T of tomato paste to the water. I only find it necessary to use a cup, rather than a pint, of cream).