Worlds in our words

What I won’t carry

Words matter. My resolution for 2013 is to not wage war against cancer, courageous or cowardly. I decline to be a soldier in the army against a disease. Nor will I win or lose or survive any struggles as a crusader on a cancer campaign. Count me out as battling warrior woman. Fighting is not my load to carry.

Language carries insights into worldviews. My metaphors are for collaboration and caring, not fear and fighting. The many heroes who saved my life are my team, not my fellow combatants. Confrontation doesn’t capture my cancer experience and combat doesn’t describe my mindset. A fighting mindset feels exhausting and fixed to me. Winning or losing to cancer is a random crap shoot, not something I do to or for myself. Death happens. To everyone. 100% of the time. Dying is not losing.

Here’s my strategy for staying alive, which has worked – so far:

 Living involves love, meditation, nature, and good deeds

What I will carry

A peaceful mindset imports space for growth and adventure. Everything I once managed easily now tires me. Still,I’m alive and eager to live the time I have left. However long that may be is not in my control. What I can control, to some extent, is the quality of the quantity in my remaining life. I want to be gentle with the lovely, shared planet we all inhabit. Environmental sustainability is a load I am prepared to carry.

I find energy in how people create quality of life on this small blue world

In particular, the wonderful people of Taipei, Taiwan inspired me with their tenacious individual improvements of a challenged environment. Here’s what made me happy as I wondered around Taipei.

Taipei is a megalopolis. Hovering towers rest on unending concrete and asphalt. People live in stacked high-rises. No matter how dense the district and how little earth poked through the pavement, people put a plant or tree somewhere.

Photo credit

Back alleys with buildings abutting the road sported a narrow line of vegetation. Streets with no pedestrian sidewalk had tiny potted gardens. Huge apartments so close together they got little light had greenery cascading

greenbelt alley

from the balconies. The roof of our rented condo boasted an allotted garden for each suite.

Even in this busiest of metropolises there’s nature in cracks in the sidewalk or out of walls as I photographed in Hong Kong. This picture is oriented correctly and that is a wall it’s growing in, not ground. I couldn’t stop looking at this tree as traffic whipped inches away.

No surprise that being in nature is a life affirming metaphor that crosses cultures. When it comes to resolutions for the year, my personal health issues are on my mind as is the health of the planet. Small gains towards peace and health are possible, word by word, positive action by positive action. Peaceful mindsets – not fighting ones – will heal the world’s trouble spots. As our world’s health goes, so we go.

I’m blessed to witness how conflict management improves lives, including my own. It’s been years since I’ve used ‘neutral’ to explain mediators’ work because ‘impartial’, as in balanced, is more accurate. Winning and losing doesn’t figure in my work or in my plan for my life, however long I live.

My wish and resolution for 2013: even though there are many types of carnage, may the words and worlds of nature and peace flourish for all, like trees growing through cracks in walls. Let’s break down those barriers that keep us at war.


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