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Finding the Zen Moments
a blog by Suzanne Rico, June 27, 2012
Six years ago on New Year’s Day, I was golfing with my husband when I got the news that I wasn’t pregnant. Three IVF’s in a row, and except for a chemical pregnancy that lasted half a second, I had nothing to show for it — unless you count being out 45 grand and a mild case of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) as something.
I followed my husband down the fairways crying, dragging burdensome golf clubs behind me, until we finally quit on the 15th hole. It wasn’t just another failure I was upset about — it was that the night before I had actually been having fun! On New Year’s Eve, I’d stopped worrying about whether I would ever be a mother for just a few hours, and boy, did I feel terrible about it. How could I ever forgive myself for indulging in the luxury of forgetting?
This feeling has come up again recently as my mother battles cancer. While she is having chemotherapy, blood transfusions, and MRIs, worry roams loose inside me like a lion, pacing and loud and with long, sharp teeth. And when I went with my family to a small, deserted lake to try to outrun the fear and pain, gliding through the clear, still water in a kayak, roasting dinner over an open fire, and finding a Zen moment at the end of a long wooden dock, the next day anxiety hit twice as hard. What right did I have to feel good when life was throwing sucker punches at my mom?
What I am now slowly realizing is that it is OK to forget your troubles. Not only OK, but healthy and smart and strong. Because when you get lost inside the pain of infertility (or a loved one's cancer fight) it is easy to lose perspective, or get mauled by the lion so badly that recovery is impossible. And so I am trying to envision adversity as being in the middle of a very bad storm; yes, it is cloudy and dark and scary, but when it finally clears, you can see for miles.
The day my mother found out she had cancer, she sent me a quote by the 16th century priest and philosopher Martin Luther.
“If I knew the world would end tomorrow,” she emailed, “I would plant an apple tree today.” And therein lies an important message. Forgetting about whatever is threatening our happiness can be one of life’s greatest gifts — and bring a much needed mental break. It is counter-productive to feel bad all the time. Even in the midst of IVFs, IUIs, ICSI, ovulation timing, scheduled sex, broken dreams, or negative pregnancy tests, it is always good to allow some moments in the sun.