Note: Part of this story has been lifted from the book of Exodus. (No accusations of plagiarism please.)
Year after year at the Passover seder, the story of the Exodus from Egypt is told. The miracle was not simply the physical liberation from slavery, but the mental liberation. As a people, we were spared carrying the psychological burden forward into a new land. Of course, there were 40 years of wandering and dying off to ensure we were well rid of that shit, which left plenty of time to acquire some new shit – maybe that’s where we got the guilt.
While waiting for my bloody sea to part, and some obvious path to present itself, I’ve been wandering in a desert (of my own making – waiting for cancer to come back), trying to shake off a slavery (of my own making - fear) while eating too much matzah brei. I like to imagine my biblical ancestors mixing their wet unleavened bread with eggs and frying it up at the base of Mt. Sinai, while waiting for the Ten Commandments.
“Hey Zipporah, pass the cactus syrup.”
“Save some for the rest of us Eliazer. Sap’s at a premium around here.”
“You’re in tight with Mo, what’s up with the Promised land?”
“I don’t know why he makes promises. Anyway, he doesn’t talk to me, he’s got God and a lot of burning bushes to put out. I have a feeling that wandering’s the goal here. Make some new sandals. Try to enjoy it.”
“Are you actually telling me the path is the goal?”
Did we have any idea what we were waiting for? Did we manage at some point in those 40 years to go with the flow and suspend our need to know how the story ends? To stop asking when we’d be there. Isn’t that what life’s all about – trying to have fun in the desert. That’s hard for me.
I’m a shitty wanderer. I hate being stuck behind a truck I can’t see past. I always have to be first on a hike. I need to know what’s around the fucking corner.
Out for Chinese the other night I got this fortune in my cookie: Your infinite capacity for patience will be rewarded sooner or later. That pretty much summarizes my life’s current paradox.
In two weeks I have my last maintenance chemo and then I’m officially un-tethered from the Odette Cancer Centre, left to drift away, monitor for symptoms and wait. It’s scary. I guess I’m looking for my exodus from fear – that’s my version of slavery. I’m tired of toiling in the anxiety of what will be, might be, could be, and too rarely noticing and creating what is.
Certainty’s an illusion we love to cling to. There are paths and goals, but knowable end-games are just hindsight. It’s a juggling act - hoping, figuring, suspecting, enjoying, worrying and just being. Drop the fear a little more often Aviva, embrace the wandering.
L’chaim and pass the cactus syrup.