Of stiles and graceful beeches.

My journey over and beyond the cancer seas.

I hauled myself up onto the soggy bank and rested with heavy breath under the rusty orange paper leaves of a huge beech. I sat on a mushroom speckled branch and contemplated my self made predicament. A gentle wander in an autumn wood, said I. A new place to visit, new views to see to blow the cobwebs of the past year away. The first time out beyond my well trod paths and I had got lost. As ever the intrepid explorer I decided to launch myself into the midst of the undergrowth, away from the main path, in an unknown wood. Only to find a good hour later that I had no idea where I was. How fabulous to be lost in nature with no idea of which way to go, it is a sublime feeling indeed, if a little disconcerting!

I sat for a while catching my breath and looked at the beauty of the beeches in their final dance before winter. How gracefully they shed this years summer coat with such stoic acceptance. Up behind the tree was a field that seemed to offer a far easier option to deal with than boggy peat of the forest floor. So I picked a way through the fence and clambered onto the steep grass. Three deer stood on the brow of the hill, poised in still majesty for what seemed an age, and then they leapt away into the undergrowth and were gone. I thought to myself how fabulous it would be if there was a stile up in that top most corner of the field. Not for a moment thinking that there actually would be one. So I almost cried when I saw there was indeed an actual solid well laid stile over the hedge in the corner of the field. I hauled myself onto it and sat to contemplate the amazing view and my luck. At least now I was on a path heading in the vague direction of where I had left the car.

While there on that stile I considered the journey of my past year and could see the parallel in today’s scenario. Somewhere along my path I had veered into the unknown territory of a cancer story and now I was on a different track entirely, that bore no resemblance to my previous one. A year ago I had no idea how satisfying it would be to draw animals with graphite pencil and coloured pastels, and to now be offering them up as images on bags and cups to help fund the next stage of my healing. I never studied art, the only time I had drawn as an adult was to doodle on the corner of writing pads. Old memories of an art teacher who told me I couldn’t draw had firmly shut down that option before it had begun. And now I cannot imagine being without this side of me.

Similarly my writing has taken off in ways I never anticipated. Sure I have always written, but never as prolifically and not much non fiction. I have half writ stories awaiting my attention, masses of poems, letters and prose, but little that I shared with others. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I was good enough, rather that I just wasn’t ready. That seems utterly ridiculous now. Life is far too short to hold back. The resounding voice in my head is one of encouragement. After all I am the only person that can be me. I am doing the best I can and I want to share myself and whatever gifts I bring to bear. If I continue to do this, I am convinced it goes a small way to helping others to share and shine. I have always believed we rise together, we are as intrinsically linked as the mycelial network beneath every step we take. My journey is your journey in that it is a journey of humanity, the earth and all other beings on her. We are in it together and that is a good thing. Oh and I did find the car eventually!

Journeying through cancer lands and life beyond