This is one of my favourite sayings. I have used it many times to counsel patience in others, but rarely have I used it to counsel patience in myself. The river goes at its own pace. My recovery from major surgery has been remarkable, but it has also moved on at its own pace. The scarring on my belly has faded from its once livid appearance, but I remain covered up on the beach as the scar on my ribcage looks like I’ve survived a shark attack. It will take more time to fade.
I have lost a lot of weight and have continued to grow lighter since I left the hospital five months ago. Cancer is not a recommended weight loss regime, and now, with a reduced stomach size, keeping the weight on is a struggle. There is a disconnect between mind and body as I also never have an appetite. I could go all day without eating a thing and not notice! I work to a timetable so this cannot happen.
And as the weight falls off the workings of my stomach seem to me to be revealed like a village lost to the reservoir dam, exposed during the drought. I can see a round ball on the left when I am full. The one message that gets through, because suddenly I can’t move as my system is working flat out on whatever I have been eating.
But today was a cool milestone day. Today I was brave enough to try nauli, the stomach exercise I had been taught thirty years ago when I began learning Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. I stood up with my legs shoulder width apart, slightly bent at the knee, and exhaled all the way out, then pulled up my stomach muscles high into my ribcage.
Nothing bad happened! So, then I went on to contract the stomach muscles in the centre, then right, then left, then again, a number of times. It felt good. It felt like I was, at last, beginning to reconnect with the vital functions of the body. I am determined to reinhabit this corporeal form.
I may not be able to push the river, but perhaps I can learn how to better ride the rapids and roll with the currents, and trust that one day I will be recovered, and, perhaps, improved, in a bid to honour the new lease on life that I have been granted.